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RFID News Roundup

WaveMark enhances comprehensive OR inventory-management solution; HID Global introduces RFID-enabled laundry tag; Nordic ID launches small, compact UHF RFID reader; Diamond Services unveils gem-scale integration with GemBox RFID; ams announces analog front-end chip for secure operation of NFC-enabled payment transactions; survey shows that, on average, half of world's DCs use RFID.
By Beth Bacheldor

Diamond Services Unveils Gem-Scale Integration With GemBox RFID
Diamond Services Ltd, GemBox RFID's distributor in Hong Kong, China, India, Belgium and Israel, has announced that it is introducing GemBox's latest feature: integrating the operation of a number of digital diamond scales into the software of GemBox RFID, so that a gem's weight, recorded by the scale, can automatically and simultaneously be saved into the GemBox software program and onto the proprietary tag attached to the gemstone. GemBox RFID includes RFID tags small enough for gem industry applications, enabling users to track stock and store information about each item. GemBox RFID allows diamond, gem or pearl traders to perform inventory counts of up to 1,000 items within 30 seconds, Diamond Services reports, and can also reduce the incidence of theft. This particular procedure eliminates the need for an operator to enter a gemstone's weight into a record, and consequently eliminates any possibility of human error, according to Yossi Kuzi, a co-owner of Diamonds Services Ltd. GemBox RFID uses Magellan Technology's phase jitter modulation (PJM) RFID technology. Magellan's passive high-frequency (HF) system includes 13.56 MHz passive PJM labels compliant with the ISO 18000-3 standard, as well tunnel and desktop readers (see RFID Helps Gem Dealers Track the Diamonds They Buy, Cut and Sell).

Ams Announces Analog Front-End Chip for Secure Operation of NFC-enabled Payment Transactions
Ams, an Austrian manufacturer of ICs and sensors (formerly known as austriamicrosystems), has announced its AS3922 chip, an advanced active tag analog front-end (AFE) chip that enables the operation of Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID functionality on micro-SD, micro-SIM, SIM and other space-constrained carrier devices. According to ams, the AS3922 IC, which features the company's Active Boost Technology to overcome the limitations of passive load modulation, basically allows a complete contactless credit card to be put onto an ultra-small form factor within a challenging environment. The active tag AFE IC is designed for ultrasmall form-factor ISO 14443 tag applications, particularly for those in which the coupling factor between the reader coil and the tag coil is so small that using passive modulation would not produce sufficient signal on the reader coil, resulting in little or no communication. Boosting the response to the reader, the company explains, allows for tag functionality in applications with a lot of RF interference in the field, or that require ultrasmall form-factor antenna. The benefit, according to Ams, is that any legacy mobile phone can now become a payment vehicle. The AS3922 chip emulates an ISO 14443A/B tag through active transmission of the tag's response, in synch with the reader's carrier field. This overcomes the difficulties with using conventional passive load modulation in a micro-SD or micro-SIM card, a device with a very small antenna and—in a mobile phone—operating within a harsh environment. The AS3922 IC can be installed in micro-SD- and SIM-based cards developed by payment and security companies, as well as by manufacturers of microSD and SIM cards. In that way, mobile phone network operators, banks and others will be able to provide customers with a contactless payment technology card suitable for the many mobile phones lacking built-in NFC capability. As well as offering Active Boost functionality, the AS3922 chip also features antenna auto tuning (AAT) technology, Q factor adjustment and a low-impedance output driver with adjustable output power. The chip complies with the ISO 14443A and B standards for tag emulation, according to ams, supporting data rates of up to 106 kilobits per second, as well as FeliCa at data rates of up to 212 kilobits per second. The AS3922 chip provides an analog contactless bridge (ACLB) interface for communication with a secure element, and a digital secure environment interface supporting NFC CLF, DCLB and NFC-WI interfaces. "Previous SIM or micro-SD card-based NFC products needed an external booster antenna, which is not user friendly or robust due to its extended antenna," said Mark Dickson, ams' senior marketing manager for wireless technology, in a prepared statement. "Active Boost technology from ams changes the game because it enables NFC to become a 'plug and play' function for any device with a micro-SD, SD or SIM card slot." The AS3922 chip is in volume production now.

Survey Shows That, On Average, Half of World's DCs Use RFID
Nearly 3,000 hours annually are lost at distribution centers due to inefficient processes, with DCs losing an average of nearly $390,000 per year due to mis-picks, according to a new global research report released from Intermec. But organizations surveyed report that technology can help. In fact, 89 percent of managers queried believe that investing in new technology would enable them to achieve time-savings and improve worker productivity, while 74 percent of managers believe that increasing automation within a DC would have the greatest impact on increasing profitability. More than two-thirds, or 68 percent, of those surveyed believe that worker mobility and flexibility is key to improving profitability—a sentiment felt strongest in the United States (76 percent) and the United Kingdom (84 percent). Despite these findings, the report found that nearly one in four, or 23 percent, of all companies surveyed are still utilizing paper to conduct DC processes. Technologies that pique the interest of those surveyed include multifunctional devices, which 72 percent of managers cited as being critical to ensuring that workers are flexible and are equipped to do more. In addition, 67 percent indicated that intuitive, user-friendly devices help drive employee satisfaction, morale and loyalty. RFID technology is also seen as a boon to efficiency. Fifty-two percent of managers queried currently use RFID within their distribution center. This is highest in Germany, at 60 percent, followed by 59 percent in the United States and 44 percent in France. The research report, commissioned by Intermec and carried out by research company Vanson Bourne, surveyed 250 senior supply chain and distribution center managers at organizations with within the United Kingdom, France, Germany and North America employing more than 500 workers.

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