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RFID News Roundup

Ekahau announces updated Wi-Fi RTLS staff badge and pager; IVSN Group debuts shipping solution that supports RFID for DOD contractors; Smartrac joins OSPT, an alliance promoting a standards-based, secure contactless transit fare-collection platform; GS1 US, GS1 Germany combine data-management subsidiaries.
May 10, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Ekahau Announces Updated Wi-Fi RTLS Staff Badge and Pager
Ekahau Inc., a provider of Wi-Fi-based real-time location system (RTLS) solutions, has announced the launch of its newest Wi-Fi staff badge—the Ekahau B4 Staff Badge and Pager. According to Jussi Kiviniemi, Ekahau's director of product marketing, the B4 badge is a next-generation Wi-Fi-based RTLS staff badge based on Ekahau's T301Bd model, which is being phased out of production. The B4 badge can be tracked and located by Ekahau RTLS over any brand or generation of Wi-Fi network. The system can typically achieve room-level accuracy using Wi-Fi as the location method. "The B4 takes a leap forward, based on customer feedback and technology evolution," says Kiviniemi. For example, like its predecessor, the badge enables a staff member to issue an alert in the event that he or she is attacked, or if immediate help is required. But the B4 also includes a built-in motion sensor that enables automated "man-down" alarms. All of the alarms, which reveal the badge's location at the time of an alert, can be programmed to call security, re-point video cameras or control door locks and lighting. What's more, the B4 badge incorporates the latest system-on-a-chip (SOC) Wi-Fi 802.11g radio—which, according to Ekahau, improves battery life and decreases Wi-Fi overhead to virtually zero. The CPU and memory has been updated, Kiviniemi says, and the badge also features a newer, more durable design that can withstand heavy usage. When used in tandem with the new Ekahau Location Beacon infrared transmitters, bed-level location accuracy can be achieved, and the B4 badge has been optimized for integration with Wi-Fi infrastructures from Aruba Networks, Cisco Systems, Motorola and Meru Networks. The badge features three call buttons and an alarm switch, all of which can be programmed to address different calls initiated by a user. For instance, a button press can signify a call for assistance in moving a patient, whereas the alarm switch can be used to summon nearby co-workers to help with a life-threatening situation. Due to the system's unique two-way communication capability, employees can directly send each other calls for help or other requests, displayed as text on the LED screen on the badges they are wearing. An audible tone and flashing LED signal lights alert workers that there is a new message. The B4 badge has a rechargeable battery that enables organizations to run the badges with rapid blink rates and real-time text messaging. Battery life is continuously monitored, and the user is alerted via the badge's multi-color LED signal lights if the battery level falls below a specified threshold. The B4 badges can be recharged using a simple AC charger or a USB cable, or with a tabletop or wall-mounted charger that accept 10 badges simultaneously. Recharge time is approximately 90 minutes, and the badges can be configured to last from a few days to several weeks on a single charge. The B4 badge is slated to begin shipping to customers at the end of this month, and is available through Ekahau and its resellers world-wide.

IVSN Group Debuts Shipping Solution that Supports RFID for DOD Contractors
IVSN Group has introduced its IVSN Pack Later Software Solution, specifically designed to help small to midsize contractors for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) more easily connect to the Defense Logistic Agency's Wide Area Workflow (WAWF), and leverage RFID and other technologies for shipping processes in support of the DOD's mandate for unique identifiers on equipment. WAWF, a secure, Web-based system for electronic invoicing, receipt and acceptance, enables government vendors to submit and track invoices and receipt/acceptance documents via the Web, and allows government personnel to process those invoices in a real-time, paperless environment. ISVN Group's software solution, the company reports, is designed to ease the time-consuming and often tedious method of preparing a shipment for the DOD. In addition to building a shipment interface to WAWF, the IVSN Pack Later Software Solution also verifies programmed passive RFID with bar-code shipping labels, says Matthew Gonzales, IVSN Group's president. The solution includes an RFID and bar-code compare component designed to help the contractor compare them regarding accuracy and readability. The solution works with EPC Gen 2 passive tags, though Gonzales says it can be modified to work with high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz tags.

Smartrac Joins Alliance Driving Standards-based, Secure Contactless Transit Fare-Collection Systems
The Open Standard for Public Transport (OSPT) Alliance has announced that Smartrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has joined the organization. The OSPT Alliance is focused on open standards for secure transit fare-collection solutions, which it says promotes vendor neutrality and cross-vendor system interoperability, and provides transit operators with greater flexibility in implementing new applications than proprietary, single-vendor technologies. The alliance has defined CIPURSE, an RF-agnostic platform for securing multiple payment types. Built on standards that include the ISO 14443-4 standard for passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags, CIPURSE establishes a common set of commands to be used between a card and a reader, as well as a standard card data structure. It is form-factor-independent, and is designed for use in smart cards, Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile phones and other devices. However, the OSPT Alliance reports that the ISO 14443 Type A or Type B communication channel is the first channel to be supported by the certification laboratory for approving CIPURSE-compliant products. The CIPURSE platform employs an advanced authentication scheme designed to withstand electronic attacks without requiring dedicated hardware. According to the alliance, a unique design allows all applications, from low-end limited-use tickets to high value cards, such as multi-application cards or NFC devices combining payment with transit fare applications. As a full member of the organization, Smartrac will participate in OSPT's activities regarding the development of next-generation transit fare-collection systems based on the CIPURSE open security platform. In a recent report conducted by market research firm ABI Research, NXP Semiconductors' proprietary Mifare-based range of contactless chips currently has the lead in the contactless ticketing market. According to ABI Research, NXP's market lead is due, in part, to a lack of alternative solutions. The firm cites the CIPURSE platform as one option that could drive new contactless ticketing solutions to market. OSPT reports that it expects new, open standards-based CIPURSE products to appear on the market later this year. John Devlin, ABI Research's group director for security and ID, says he expects that CIPURSE deployments will begin in Europe, and then follow in other regions as more cities see the benefit of employing smarter transportation systems.

GS1 US, GS1 Germany Combine Data-Management Subsidiaries
Nonprofit standards organizations GS1 US and GS1 Germany, two of the GS1 System's largest member organizations, have announced that they have signed a letter of intent to combine GS1 US' 1SYNC and GS1 Germany's SA2 Worldsync subsidiaries. According to the two organizations, 1SYNC and SA2 Worldsync together provide product data synchronization services and solutions to more than 15,000 businesses, directly or indirectly, in more than 40 countries. They manage product data for more than 7 million items, the organizations report, enabling some of the world's largest brand owners to share trusted product information with hundreds of trading partners via the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network, a network of data pools that stores product information accessible by trading partners. The two companies' customers include companies of all sizes across multiple industries, such as consumer packaged goods, retail, food service and health care. "This joint venture is all about meeting businesses' needs in rapidly changing, increasingly global markets," said Bob Carpenter, GS1 US' president and CEO, in a prepared statement. "1SYNC and SA2 Worldsync are the clear leaders in business-to-business (B2B) product data management, but our customers, who are in multiple industries, increasingly need to share more and different product information with consumers (B2C) through new applications and new platforms, such as e-tailers. Our combined companies will provide them with a global, single-touch, one-to-many product data management platform, helping companies use their product information to create a competitive advantage."
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