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RFID News Roundup

Confidex expands tag family for IT and enterprise asset-tracking applications; Elpas announces new Man-Down Emergency Call Transmitter; Internet of Things gains real-world traction, according to new study; NXP, Identive partner on NFC cashless-payment solution in India; AeroScout markets RFID-enabled evacuation-monitoring solution; NFC Forum publishes analog specification to promote device interoperability.
Oct 11, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Confidex Expands Tag Family for IT and Enterprise Asset-Tracking Applications
Confidex has announced that it has extended its RFID tag family for IT and enterprise asset-tracking applications with the next generation of its Steelwave Micro RFID tag for source-tagging and retrofit asset-tracking applications. The new Steelwave Micro II tag is a passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag designed to offer consistently high performance on both metal and non-metal assets (the previous version was tuned to work better on metal items), and comes in a form factor similar to that of a hangtag, allowing it to be tethered to an object. The Micro II tag supports the global UHF band (865 to 928 MHz), and is available in a wide variety of custom configurations so that it can be incorporated into almost any IT or non-IT high-value asset. The tag comes with an Impinj Monza 4 QT chip, offering 128 bits of EPC memory and 512 bits of additional user memory. The Steelwave Micro II is also available in a Near Field Communication (NFC) version for asset management using mobile devices, Confidex reports. The NFC model incorporates NXP Semiconductors' NTAG203 high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID chip, which offers 144 bytes of user memory. With the HF version of the Steelwave Micro II, customers would be able to utilize NFC-enabled mobile devices to scan the tag and remotely access information related to an asset in the field. According to Confidex, in addition to tracking IT assets, such as servers, computers or high-value prototypes, enterprises are beginning to utilize RFID to track non-IT assets—for example, high-value medical devices, lab equipment and manufacturing tools. Expanding its portfolio of IT and enterprise asset RFID tags, the firm notes, will help cover the needs of a greater variety of assets' sizes and materials. Confidex can now work with customers to design tags in its IT and enterprise asset RFID tag family to meet their unique requirements. In specific source-tagging environments, says Timo Lindström, Confidex's CEO, when an RFID tag is attached during the manufacturing process, commonly available RFID products may not always be optimally designed to provide the safety and compliance required by its customers. The firm's RFID tag family for IT and enterprise asset tracking is on display in Booth 10 at RFID Journal's RFID in High Tech conference and exhibition, taking place this week at the Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley, in Milpitas, Calif.

Elpas Announces New Man-Down Emergency Call Transmitter
Elpas, part of Tyco Security Products, has announced the availability of its new Man-Down Emergency Call Transmitter. The device, designed for the monitoring and protection of lone workers, prison guards and security personnel who may be subject to attack or injury in high-risk workplace environments, is an active RFID tag built into a holster that clips onto a belt. It uses the same technology as Elpas' Quad-Tech Personal Badge (see RFID News Roundup: Visonic Technologies Intros Hybrid Tag for RTLS and Access Control), and works with the company's Elpas real-time location (RTLS) solution. The Man-Down Emergency Call Transmitter leverages a 433 MHz active RFID tag for real-time zone location, and includes an infrared receiver for room and sub-room tracking accuracy, as well as a 125 kHz low-frequency (LF) passive RFID transponder for instant doorway and pinpoint location visibility. The transmitter provides RTLS visibility down to sub-room-level accuracy, along with duress-call signaling via two emergency call buttons on either side of the unit for manual wireless duress alerting. An onboard tilt sensor can automatically initiate an alert in the event that, for example, a prison guard is attacked and knocked down. Additionally, if a prisoner were to grab a holster and yank it off, a pull cord would enable automatic alerting.

Internet of Things Gains Real-World Traction, According to New Study
A survey commissioned by Zebra Technologies indicates that the Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer a concept, but a reality that is improving global enterprises' operations. Based on a definition agreed upon by 85 percent of the survey's respondents, Internet of Things solutions are "smart interconnected devices that businesses use to get more visibility into the identification, location, and condition of products, assets, transactions, or people to drive more effective and timely business decisions or to improve customer interactions." Forrester Research conducted the survey during the first half of 2012, through online interviews of IT executives at 646 global enterprises representing primary operations in 11 countries, in sectors including manufacturing; health care; oil, gas and petroleum; retail; hospitality; transportation and logistics; and government. The study found that companies across multiple industries are already using IoT technologies to track and manage physical assets, improve the customer experience, enhance supply chain visibility and more. While only 15 percent of surveyed organizations worldwide said they already have an Internet of Things solution in place, 53 percent indicated that they plan to implement one within the next 24 months, while another 14 percent said they will do so during the next two to five years. In examining adoption by industry, 21 percent of transportation and logistics respondents noted they already have IoT solutions in place, while this is true for only 3 percent of health care organizations. The study compared responses among various regions when considering benefits achieved from implementing IoT solutions. Improved customer experience ranked the highest in Asia (85 percent), whereas loss prevention received the highest rank in North America (82 percent). Other high-ranking benefits across all regions included supply chain visibility, improved delivery process, and supply chain optimization and responsiveness. "Organizations are struggling to do more with less, to be more productive. They actively seek not only smarter ways to track and manage assets, but also insights that can drive new, breakthrough ideas for their organization," said Anders Gustafsson, Zebra Technologies' CEO, in a prepared statement. "At Zebra, we believe every organization has an opportunity to use IoT technologies to illuminate operational events occurring throughout their value chain so they can act upon them to make smarter decisions and inspire innovation." When respondents were asked which issues (from a pre-set list) their organization will address by implementing IoT solutions, the top answers included supply chain visibility (56 percent); tracking customer, partner or supplier transactions (50 percent); asset location (50 percent); asset identification (48 percent); and inventory levels (46 percent). When asked how necessary various technologies are to enabling Internet of Things solutions and bringing value to their business, more than 70 percent of respondents identified bar codes or real-time location-tracking active RFID tags as important or very important devices, while 58 percent cited passive RFID tags. Other technologies cited by many participants as important or very important included Wi-Fi (71 percent), mobile computing (69 percent) and GPS tracking (63 percent). According to the study, a variety of forces are aligning to drive increased enterprise demand for IoT solutions, including declining device costs and widely deployed IP networks. "Building Value from Visibility: 2012 Enterprise Internet of Things Adoption Outlook," a report describing the survey and its results, can be downloaded from RFID Journal's white paper archive.

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