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RFID News Roundup

Confidex launches new NFC RFID stickers and heavy-duty NFC RFID tag; Printronix unveils Short-Pitch RFID technology for thermal printer; Malaysia Sabah University, in Borneo, leverages TagMaster RFID technology for attendance, asset security; Awarepoint, Rauland-Borg partner to streamline nursing and patient workflows; I.D. Systems unveils analytics for industrial vehicle fleets.
Sep 20, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Confidex Launches New NFC RFID Stickers and Heavy-duty NFC RFID Tag
Confidex, a supplier of contactless ticketing and RFID tag solutions, has unveiled new 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags and stickers compliant with the Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum Tag Type 2 specifications, as well as the ISO 14443-A standard. The Ironside Micro NFC tag is designed for multipurpose use in industrial, authentication and communication applications, and is capable of withstanding harsh environments. The Ironside Micro NFC tag contains 144 bytes of available user memory and an operating range of up to 70 millimeters (2.8 inches), dependent on the reader antenna. The tag, encapsulated in impact-resistant plastics, is designed to be background-insensitive so it can operate when attached to metallic surfaces. It measures 1.06 inches in width and length and 0.22 inch in thickness and operates in temperatures between -4 degrees and +185 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees to +85 degrees Celsius). It is resistant to salt water (10 percent) and motor oil, the company reports, and offers at least five hours of resistance against sulfuric acid (10 percent), as well as against up to 1 hour of exposure to sodium hydroxide (10 percent). Confidex has also announced stickers designed for multipurpose use in industrial, authentication and communication applications. There are two versions, the firm indicates: One is background-insensitive, meaning it can be attached to any material, including metal, while the other works only on non-metallic surfaces. The stickers, which measure 40 millimeters by 35 millimeters (1.6 inches by 1.4 inches) in size, are available with various IC options and memory sizes. The new Ironside Micro NFC tag and the NFC stickers are all rated IP 68, meaning they are dustproof and waterproof, and are all available now. "We expect to launch additional products according to market demand," says Timo Lindström, Confidex's CEO. "We believe that NFC will be a market requiring primarily personalized products and personalization, as service is a key part of our NFC offering." In addition to the new product releases, Confidex also announced that this month, it has exceeded the milestone of delivering 300 million limited-use contactless tickets compliant with NFC Forum Type 2 specifications.

Printronix Unveils Short-Pitch RFID Technology for Thermal Printer
Printronix, a manufacturer of printers for supply chain applications, has announced that its SL4M Thermal Printer is now available with Short-Pitch RFID technology, designed to enable businesses to print smaller, more affordable RFID tags with an inlay pitch of only 1 inch (versus 2.25 inches for a standard-pitch RFID label). In the past, the company reports, one of the greatest hurdles to implementing an RFID solution was the cost of tags or labels. According to Printronix, the Short-Pitch RFID solution allows businesses to generate smaller labels at a lower cost than larger labels, making it more affordable to implement a new RFID solution or expand an existing one. The move to the Short-Pitch technology came from customers and resellers, the company explains, adding that while many of its customers currently employ RFID tags to track large containers or pallets, the ability to print smaller, less expensive tags means they can now afford to tag and track inventory at the item level, and potentially save thousands of dollars in lost inventory. The SL4M Short-Pitch RFID printer, a 4-inch thermal printer with a multi-position RF coupler, supports all leading ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) silicon and inlay brands, and features an EPC Gen 2 hardware-certified UHF RFID encoder. It includes PrintNet Enterprise Remote Printer Management software, as well as 10/100 Base-T Ethernet, Serial, Parallel and USB 2.0 connectivity, and comes with embedded printer language emulation software. Optional wireless 802.11 b/g connectivity is also available. The SL4M Short-Pitch RFID Printer is available now. A field-installable kit is also available for customers already using Printronix's standard pitch SL4M MP2 RFID printers. The kit contains an easy-to-install reader, a coupler (antenna) and a harness, and is priced at $2,295 in the United States.

Malaysia Sabah University Leverages TagMaster RFID Technology for Attendance, Asset Security
Swedish RFID solutions provider TagMaster has announced that it has received an order to expand the active RFID-enabled student- and computer-tracking system installed at the University of Sabah, in Borneo. The order is for an additional 2,400 units of TagMaster's Samui and Edam RFID tags, along with an extension of the school's network of Celebes RFID readers, to be deployed during October and November 2012. The initial deployment was completed in May, the company reports. The Samui tag—a small active identification tag for tracking and security purposes—has a flanged enclosure that can easily be fixed to various types of assets. It weighs less than 25 grams (0.9 ounce), uses the 2.4 GHz ISM band and has a range of up to 80 meters (262 feet). The Samui tag can be configured to beacon mode (TTF) or wake-up mode (RTF); in beacon mode, it will transmit its unique identifier (UID) at regular intervals, or immediately upon alert conditions. In wake-up mode, the tag will not send anything unless commanded to do so by an authorized reader. The optional motion sensor can be programmed for multiple uses, including reducing activity when the tag is stationary. The Edam card tag is suitable for monitoring people both indoors and outdoors. It can be affixed to a shirt's breast pocket, or be worn as a necklace, and can either beacon a message at certain intervals or be configured to wake-up mode. The messages contain the UID, user-defined information stored in the tag, an Electronic Product Code (EPC) and various types of tag-status data. The Celebes reader can acquire information from more than 200 tags per second, as well as issue commands to selected tags. It has two configurable channels, programmable RF modes and multiple antenna options, and is available with various types of physical interfaces, including Ethernet LAN, USB, long-range Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and RS232. The Samui tags are being fitted to students' laptops, while the Edam tags are provided to students who either wear them as necklaces or affix them to their shirts. Initially, the readers were installed at key doors to faculty offices, but with the expansion, they will be installed within classrooms and lecture halls as well, according to Martin Harnevie, the chief executive of TagMaster's Malaysian subsidiary. A central application, developed by a TagMaster partner, receives the RFID events from all readers and depicts where the students and laptops are, as well as the movement history. The application can also send alerts, for example, if a laptop is located in a different zone than its owner. The system not only monitors the laptops, but also students' security and safety. It monitors concentrations of students within various parts of the campus, such as eateries, social areas, sports facilities and gymnasiums, and the application is being prepared for automated features, Harnevie says—for example, issuing an alert if too many students gather in a certain area, or some other metric that appears abnormal. The system will eventually monitor up to 5,000 laptops, he says. Currently, 700 are being monitored, but that number is expected to rise to approximately 2,500 by the end of November. In addition, the university plans to place readers within every classroom. "This means the central system can see which students are attending a lecture or workshop. Like most universities, the curriculum gives some freedom in which lectures students need to attend, as long as they follow some basic schema," Harnevie explains. "But the system will at least keep the statistics, which can then be used for feedback purposes."

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