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RFID News Roundup
NFC Forum's new spec eases chipset integration; Intelligent InSites integrates PLUS RTLS technology; IDTronic intros new RFID wristbands, UHF starter kit; Smartrac launches new Mifare-based inlays and Prelam products for automated fare collection; Getac's PS336 handheld supports field-swappable end caps for RFID, other technologies.
Nov 08, 2012—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
NFC Forum's New Spec Eases Chipset Integration
The NFC Forum, an association promoting the adoption of Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology, has announced that it has published its NFC Controller Interface (NCI) specification, available to the public for download at no charge. NCI defines the interface within an NFC device between an NFC controller and a device's main application processor. Prior to the release of the NCI spec, device manufacturers have had to create their own device-specific interface controllers to manage interactions between the device's central processing unit (CPU) and the NFC chip. But with the NCI spec, manufacturers will have access to a standard interface that they can use for whatever type of NFC-enabled device they build—including mobile phones, PCs, tablets, printers, consumer electronics and appliances. As a result, the NFC Forum reports, device manufacturers will be able to integrate NFC controllers into their products more quickly and simply, thereby making it easier to source chips and shortening time to market for new NFC-enabled devices. The NCI provides users with a logical interface that can be utilized with different physical transports, such as UART, SPI and I2C. It also offers a number of partitions allowing an implementer to include various sets of functionality in an NFC Controller, and makes it easier to use NFC controllers from different sources, as well as utilize NFC controllers with a variety of application processors and NFC software stacks. NCI, the latest of the forum's 21 published technical documents, was adopted after a validation period and subsequent votes by the NFC Forum membership and Board. Access to all available technical documents can be found in the NFC Forum Web site's specification section.
Intelligent InSites Integrates PLUS RTLS Technology
Intelligent InSites, a provider of enterprise real-time location system (RTLS) software designed to help hospitals improve patient satisfaction and operational performance while supporting multiple RFID and RTLS technologies, has announced that its software platform now integrates with the ultra-wideband (UWB) RTLS solution from PLUS Location Systems (PLUS). PLUS' UWB technology leverages active UWB RFID tags, interrogators, ceiling-tile antennas, synchronization distribution panels and software. UWB tags emit a series of extremely short signals (billionths of a second or shorter), with each signal spanning a wide band between 3.1 GHz and 10.6 GHz. The Intelligent InSites software platform collects and processes real-time data from health-care IT systems, nurse-call systems, communications platforms, building-management systems, electronic health records, and wireless sensor networks that can be used for various applications, including asset management, patient flow, bed management, environmental monitoring, surgical instrument tracking, rentals management and consumable asset management. According to Intelligent InSites, this ability to leverage real-time information across an enterprise enables health-care organizations to improve operations and care-delivery processes, resulting in more affordable care and improved patient satisfaction. The integration with Intelligent InSites' software enables the Intelligent InSites solution to automatically gather and intelligently process real-time location data from PLUS' UWB system. Intelligent InSites can also leverage data culled from a variety of other locating technologies, including active RFID, infrared/RF, passive RFID, ultrasound, Wi-Fi and ZigBee. The PLUS RTLS solution can continuously track thousands of tags throughout a facility, thereby providing down-to-the-second location information regarding individuals and assets that is accurate within inches, according to Paul Smelser, PLUS Location Systems' president. Health-care facilities, the company reports, are using its automated directional tracking solutions to monitor the movements of patients and staff members between buildings on a campus, and within different areas of a single building. PLUS' UWB technology was originally developed by Time Domain. On Mar. 31, 2011, Time Domain announced that it had sold its PLUS business unit to PLUS Location Systems, a newly formed privately held company.
IDTronic Intros New RFID Wristbands, UHF Starter Kit
IDTronic, an RFID hardware provider based in Germany, has announced three new RFID-enabled wristbands and an RFID starter kit for ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID initiatives. The wristbands—designed for applications in leisure, wellness and health—consist of the Switch, the Move and the Smooth, and are all made of soft, flexible silicon and can be equipped with a variety of different RFID technologies. All of the wristbands are composed of a colored silicone band with a metal closure; a customer's logo or other information can be printed or laser-engraved on the wristband's round silicone plate. The wristband features an IP 67 rating, which means it is dustproof, waterproof and able to withstand submersion in water for brief periods of time, as well as function within a temperature range from -25 degrees to +65 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees to +149 degrees Fahrenheit). The Smooth model is available with 125 kHz passive chips supplied by Atmel, EM Microelectronic and NXP Semiconductors, as well as 13.56 MHz passive chips from Legic and NXP. The Move version is equipped with two housings—which, IDTronic reports, makes it easy to use it for two different frequencies. The Move wristband is also available with 125 kHz chips from Atmel, EM Microelectronic and NXP, and 13.56 MHz chips from Legic, NXP and Texas Instruments. The Switch features a unique housing available as either a closed or open version. With the open version (which is not waterproof), customers can change out the RFID inlay. It is available with 125 kHz chips from Atmel, EM Microelectronic and NXP, as well as 13.56 MHz chips from Legic, NXP and Texas Instruments. In addition to launching the three new wristbands, IDTronic recently released a new RFID starter set, known as the Tag Demo-Kit UHF, which includes a range of transponders in various sizes, all complying with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards. The kit contains four hard tags, six Indus tags, six on-metal tags, six in-metal tags, four on-metal tool tags, four in-metal tool tags, two flex tags, one high-temperature tag and 15 wet/dry inlays.
Smartrac Launches New Mifare-based Inlays and Prelam Products for Automated Fare Collection
Smartrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, announced that it has launched new RFID inlay and Prelam products for automated fare collection (AFC), based on a new smart paper-ticketing chip from NXP Semiconductors. The Smartrac PET inlays and Prelam products are designed for limited-use tickets, public-transportation cards, access-control tickets and access-control cards, and feature the new Mifare Ultralight EV1 chip, which complies with the ISO 14443A specification for 13.56 MHz contactless smart-card applications. According to Smartrac, the new EV1 chip offers three independent 24-bit one-way counters designed to enable the more flexible ticket-tariff schemes through trip counting, reloading, limited stored values and expiration-date management. "The new Mifare Ultralight EV1 covers the needs of public transport operators for more flexibility regarding local tariff schemes and brings more convenience to passengers," said Martin Gruber, NXP's senior segment director of AFC, in a prepared statement. "NXP´s market leading position in the identification market is based on a close cooperation with key customers and enables the AFC ecosystem to match today's and tomorrow's market and system requirements from growing smart cities."
Getac's PS336 Handheld Supports Field-Swappable End Caps for RFID, Other Technologies
Getac, a manufacturer of rugged computers, has announced that its new PS336 handheld, which the company says has the ability to offer a variety of critical features for field-based personnel, including RFID, long-range Bluetooth functionality, a 1D laser bar-code reader and a three-in-one card reader—a 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) RFID reader, a smart-card reader and SAM card slots. The interrogator complies with the ISO 15693 and 14443A/B standards. The result, according to Getac, is a fully rugged handheld that minimizes the size and number of devices necessary in the field. The PS336 device employs Getac's Flexiconn technology, which allows for various interchangeable modules, or end caps, to be fitted and removed from the end of the device, based on the function required. The Getac PS336 unit features a rugged certification of MIL-STD 810G and an IP 68 rating, certifying that it can be submerged in water for a maximum of 390 minutes and remain fully functional. The PS336 handheld is also certified for drops of up to 6 feet, the company reports, and includes a 600-nit display for viewing in sunlight and other brightly lit environments. The handheld also provides a variety of geographic information system (GIS) components, including GPS, an e-compass, an altimeter, a three-axis accelerometer and a 5-megapixel digital camera.
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