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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.
NXP, Identive Partner on NFC Cashless-Payment Solution in India
NXP Semiconductors, a major provider of microchips used to make Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags, has announced that it is partnering with RFID solutions provider Identive Group to supply NFC payment tags for the ara eTap cashless-payment application being launched in India by Yeldi Softcom Pvt Ltd. The NFC payment tags used in the application can be affixed to the back of mobile phones to enable cashless "tap and pay" transactions, the company reports. Yeldi Softcom is a subsidiary of the Yeldi Group, which focuses on the development of telecommunications technology. To make a payment at a merchant site, a customer can tap his or her ara eTap tag against the merchant's NFC-enabled mobile phone, supplied by Yeldi. According to Lakshmi Deepa, Yeldi Softcom's CEO, the NFC payment tags make it possible for Yeldi to equip Indian consumers with the means to make cashless payments and other transactions without the need for a more expensive smartphone with built-in NFC functionality. The tags can be used with both new and existing mobile phones, making the ara eTap application available to the majority of the population. Transactions are secure, the company indicates, and consumers have the ability to reload cash to the tag. Yeldi Softcom plans to deploy 300,000 NFC-enabled mobile phones and millions of NFC tags, Identive reports, and ara eTap customers can utilize the NFC payment tag to load cash onto their phones from their personal bank accounts, or from a special escrow account set up with Yeldi Softcom. In addition to paying for retail items, tag holders can use the application to pay utility bills, recharge mobile phones, or book movie and travel tickets, and can also earn reward points for every usage. What's more, Identive reports, the ara eTap tag can be used as a key to access entry doors, and as a loyalty card for big brands and shopping complexes. To address Yeldi Softcom's requirements for the ara eTap program, Identive says it developed a unique NFC payment tag based on its patent-pending tom (tag on metal) smart inlay technology, which shields the tag's RF signal from the metal in the mobile phone to allow a reliable, high-performance connection between tag and phone. According to Identive, the tag—made with NXP's NFC-compliant PN65 IC for mobile transactions—is manufactured using an abrasion-resistant surface and a unique printing process that offers protection and longevity when deployed on mobile phones in the field.

AeroScout Markets RFID-enabled Evacuation-Monitoring Solution
AeroScout, a division of Stanley Black & Decker, has announced a new evacuation-monitoring solution designed to improve worker safety and operational efficiency. The solution is especially suitable for process-manufacturing plants, metal- and ore-processing facilities, oil and gas refineries, and mining operations, according to AeroScout, and leverages the company's Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide real-time visibility into the location and status of all personnel, contractors and visitors during emergencies or drills. Earlier AeroScout RFID applications for the oil and gas and other industries—such as one being used by Mexican oil-industry maintenance and transportation firm Cotemar (see Cotemar Uses RTLS to Manage Safety, Supplies for Offshore Oil Workers)—were used to track personnel or items that had been checked into or out of the specific areas. The new solution employs excitors, making it possible to indicate when people or items reach a certain area. It tracks each tag (associated with a specific person) and creates a visual representation of tags' locations, thereby automating processes typically performed using clipboards and walkie-talkies, and creating historical records that can be utilized for post-event incident investigation and continuous process improvement. In addition, the solution can be employed to help ensure compliance with various government regulations, such as those of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), as well as ATEX 137 and DSEAR, which require hazardous sites to maintain detailed emergency plans, performance goals and documentation for regularly scheduled drills. "We've measured reductions in evacuation drill times by up to 50 percent, which can translate into hundreds of man-hours saved per year in drills—and potentially lives saved in actual emergencies," said Janet Chaffin, AeroScout Industrial's president, in a prepared statement. The AeroScout Evacuation Monitoring solution provides a visual online dashboard that shows where each person is located on a facility map during a drill or actual emergency, and also indicates when each individual has safely reached a mustering area or other safety zone.

NFC Forum Publishes Analog Specification to Promote Device Interoperability
The NFC Forum, a nonprofit industry association promoting the adoption of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, has announced that it has approved and adopted the NFC Analog technical specification. The organization reports that the new specification is a major step forward in its goal of global interoperability, since it makes it easier for device manufacturers to build NFC Forum-compliant devices. The specification is intended for use by manufacturers looking to implement such devices. Available to the public for download at no charge from the NFC Forum's Web site, the NFC Analog specification is focused on the analog characteristics of an NFC-enabled device's RF interface. It characterizes and specifies the externally observable radio signals for an NFC-enabled device, without specifying antenna design. This includes power requirements (determining operating volume), transmission requirements, receiver requirements and signal forms (time, frequency and modulation characteristics). In so doing, the NFC Forum reports, it provides a common interface to the NFC chip and offers manufacturers greater flexibility to use NFC chips from different suppliers without putting device interoperability at greater risk. The specification's scope covers the analog interface of the NFC Forum Device in its four roles (Peer Mode Initiator, Peer Mode Target, Reader/Writer Mode and Card Emulation Mode) for all three technologies (NFC-A, NFC-B and NFC-F) and for the various bit rates (106 kbps, 212 kbps and 424 kbps). According to the NFC Forum, the document specifies the RF characteristics in such a way that interoperability issues arising from the radio link are minimized, thereby providing a basis for testing and approvals that draws upon the experience of related work.

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