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RFID News Roundup
Alien Technology adds Low-Level Reader Protocol support to interrogators; Powercast announces RF-based chipset and RF energy-harvesting reference; Met Labs completes first round of medical-device RFID susceptibility testing; Libelium debuts new Wi-Fi sensors for Web-enabled servers, Apple, Android devices; New NFC Products, partnerships and services announced.
Mar 01, 2012—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
Alien Technology Adds Low-Level Reader Protocol Support to Interrogators
Alien Technology has announced a software update for its ALR-9900+ and ALR-9900+EMA RFID enterprise-class readers that supports Low-Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) Version 1.1. The LLRP specification, from EPCglobal, provides a common but extensible interface for linking EPC Gen 2-compliant readers to middleware or other types of networking software. LLRP's goal is to simplify application development for end users, Alien Technology explains, thereby eliminating the need to conform to different proprietary communication protocols provided by each RFID vendor. Its support of LLRP in its enterprise-class readers, the company reports, enables users to more easily migrate between different readers. According to Alien Technology, the software release is specifically designed to let customers easilychange from one protocol to another, and the software update supports both LLRP and the Alien Reader Protocol (ARP). To access some of the advanced features, the firm is providing some additional LLRP extensions to higher-level, Alien-specific features. Examples include Dynamic Authentication and Read Locking of the user memory. However, the company notes, ARP enables the full set of Alien Enterprise Reader capabilities, including full Autonomous Mode and Alien's advanced filtering that results in significantly less network traffic, reduced network infrastructure and smaller, less expensive servers. The LLRP/ARP code release is now available from Alien Technology's Partner Portal.
Powercast Announces RF-based Chipset and RF Energy-Harvesting Reference
Powercast Corp., a provider of wireless power technology, has announced its RF-based wireless power chipset and reference design for embedded, low-power, wireless charging applications. The chipset and reference design, available for licensing, is designed to make it easier and more affordable for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to embed Powercast's core RF energy-harvesting technology into their battery-less, or rechargeable battery-based devices, the company reports, enabling RF energy (radio waves) to perpetually power them. Powercast, based in Pittsburgh, was launched in 2003 to develop a system for harvesting wireless power over distances using RF technology. The solution was intended to enable a tag to receive a continuous RF signal from a dedicated RF transmitter or ambient source (such as a mobile phone), and to convert that RF energy into DC power. The receiving device can then simply utilize the battery's stored energy for its own functionality, or transmit data and an ID number. Applications include wireless sensors for remote monitoring, portable electronic devices and other low-power devices. In May 2011, Powercast introduced a solution, known as the Lifetime Power Wireless Sensor System, for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) sector, as well as other building-controls industries, that can acquire data from sensors for heating and air-conditioning, lighting controls, access controls or other building automation. That solution includes an RF transmitter that provides power signals to sensor tags, as well as a gateway that receives information transmitted by those tags (see Powercast Debuts Energy-Harvesting Wireless Sensor System). The new chipset and reference design enable OEMs to directly embed the same functionality provided by the company's P1110 or P2110 Powerharvester receivers, Powercast reports, but with greater flexibility in terms of footprint and frequency selection, and at a lower cost. The energy-harvesting reference design converts RF energy to DC down to -12dBm of input power over a frequency range of 1 MHz to 6 GHz, and provides an output up to 5V to either trickle-charge batteries or battery-less devices. The chipset consists of Powercast's three custom chips for RF-to-DC conversion and power management. The licensable reference design contains all design files necessary to embed the Powerharvester functionality, along with 100 sample chipsets for prototyping. Customers may use any 1 MHz to 6 GHz RF transmitter of sufficient power with a properly tuned Powerharvester receiver. For example, the P2110 design, coupled with a 6 dBi receiving antenna, receives power from up to 40 feet (12 meters) away from Powercast's TX91501 3-watt RF transmitter. The reference design's bill of material (BOM) cost, including the Powercast chipset, is estimated to be less than $2 per unit in high volumes, the company reports. The chipset, part number PCC210, is available through Powercast's global network of distributors. The design of the firm's TX91501 transmitter is also available for licensing.
MET Labs Completes First Round of Medical-Device RFID Susceptibility Testing
MET Labs has announced that it has completed testing on the first product to be submitted to the Medical Device RFID Susceptibility Program. The program, designed to help medical-device manufacturers determine whether their electronic medical devices are susceptible to any potential adverse events of RFID emissions, was developed in cooperation with AIM Global's AIM Healthcare Initiative (HCI) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (see RFID News Roundup: MET Labs Announces Program to Test Medical Devices for Susceptibility to RFID Interference). The first device tested—a patient-worn, battery-operated vital-sign monitor—underwent testing at MET's laboratory in Santa Clara, Calif. It passed six of seven tests, MET Labs reports, demonstrating a hard fault when subjected to 860 to 960 MHz frequency RFID at 54 V/m, as specified in the ISO/IEC 18000-6 Type C standard. Testing was performed using the RF parameters that emit the minimum and maximum occupied bandwidth. The testing ranged from 134.2 kHz at 160 A/m to 2.45 GHz at 54 V/m. In a prepared statement, Ted Osinski, MET Labs' RFID program manager, said the device, along with others scheduled for testing, are subjected to worst-case scenarios. "The vendor now has the benefit to mitigate the problem and make the device safer," Osinski said. Interested medical device manufacturers that have not expressed interest in the past are still eligible to participate in the program. Eligible medical devices are those covered by the IEC 60601 family of standards—the product safety standard for electrical medical equipment, which covers everything from defibrillators to electrocardiogram (EKG) machines. Submitted equipment is tested at several different RFID frequency bands, and participants receive confidential test reports. If equipment is found to be susceptible to RF interference, MET Labs will assist manufacturers in formulating strategies for minimizing or eliminating interference effects.
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