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RFID News Roundup

British Airways tests NFC-enabled bag tags; KoamTac adds RFID to its lineup of scanners; Winnix Technologies unveils new UHF RFID reader; Neology and 3M resolve patent litigation; Former Sirit and Federal Signal Technologies execs launch Star Systems International, a new RFID company; Haldor Advanced Technologies updates ORLocate surgical-instrument tracking platform; Kathrein RFID and Cisper Electronics sign distributor agreement; TI expands NFC portfolio with new transponders, software.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jul 11, 2013

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: British Airways; Designworks; KoamTac; Winnix Technologies; Neology; 3M; Star Systems International; Haldor Advanced Technologies; Kathrein RFID; Cisper Electronics; Texas Instruments.

British Airways Tests NFC-enabled Bag Tags

British Airways' electronic bag tag

British Airways is kicking off a three-month trial this month to test baggage tags containing Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID inlays, in conjunction with an app for smartphones and tablets that is designed to streamline the check-in process for passengers. Partnering with Designworks, a product design consultancy with offices in the United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong, British Airways has developed an electronic bag tag designed to eliminate the use of paper tags attached to luggage. Instead, travelers will be able to use their NFC-enabled smartphones and tablets to scan the unique ID on the electronic bag tag using the phone's NFC capability and the British Airways application to match their luggage with their itinerary and contact information. The electronic bag tag then displays a unique bar code that can be scanned via existing bag-handling equipment at airports worldwide. When travelers scan the tags, Designworks explains, the app provides their flight details and an easy-to-see view of their bag's destination. Personnel at the airports can also scan the electronic bag tag upon check-in, in order to update their systems automatically. The tag is designed to be reusable, and is expected to reduce the amount of time required at check-in, since travelers will not have to wait for a traditional paper tag to be printed and attached, according to Designworks. The initial trial is taking place at London's Heathrow Airport, says Michael Johnson, a public relations manager with the British Airways press office. The trial does not involve paying customers, but British Airways plans to expand the trial later this year, and will include travel routes on the airline's shuttle services and domestic long-haul and short-haul services. The airline may opt to replace the NFC chips in the tags with a battery-powered Bluetooth version, Johnson reports, because all smartphones currently support Bluetooth but not necessarily NFC. British Airways expects to go to market with a commercial tag in 2014, he says.

KoamTac Adds RFID to Its Lineup of Scanners
KoamTac has announced that it has added RFID capability to its suite of linear and 2-D image-based bar-code scanners and card readers made for smartphones and tablets. The KDC450 model can read tags compliant with the ISO 14443 (A or B) or ISO 15693 standard, or can operate as a Near Field Communication (NFC) device running in card-emulation mode or in peer-to-peer mode (as per the ISO 18092 and ISO 21481 standards), according to KoamTac. It is the company's sixth model in the KDC400 line of smart sleds designed to work with easy-to-change smartphone and tablet cases; to use the RFID reader, a customer adds the smart mobile device and pairs the interrogator and smart device via a Bluetooth connection, thereby creating a complete data-collection system. The KDC450 comes standard with a charging cradle and features a custom case for smartphones, as well as support for 1D and 2D bar codes, a built-in 1,200-mAh rechargeable battery that can be used as an external power source for smartphones, an optional secondary Bluetooth port that provides seamless connectivity to mobile printers or other Bluetooth peripherals, KTSync keyboard-wedging software and software development kits for Android, BlackBerry, Apple iOS (iPhone, iPod touch or iPad) and Microsoft Windows.

Winnix Technologies Unveils New UHF RFID Reader

Winnex Technologies' HYR830 reader

Winnix Technologies, a China-based provider of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and high-frequency (HF) RFID products, along with technology services, including labels, tags, antennas, cards, readers and other customized services, has released a new UHF RFID reader, model HYR830, that the company claims is suitable for such applications as logistics, clothing and asset management. The reader features Impinj's Indy R2000 EPC Gen 2 interrogator chip, first unveiled in 2009 (see Impinj Adds New Products, Agreements to Its Portfolio). The Indy R2000 is designed for use with high-end interrogators in such challenging applications as item-level and near-field tracking. It features carrier-cancellation technology, enabling the chip to mute the echo of a reader's own transmitted signal when listening for tags. This technology is designed to improve the performance for item-level tracking. The HYR830 has a maximum power output of 31 dbm, four RP TNC ports, and a reading distance of up to 10 meters (32.8 feet) when used with an 8dbi circular polarized antenna, according to the company. The interrogator can read up to 400 tags per second, Winnix reports, and has eight light-emitting diodes (LEDs), a real-time display that illustrates working status, and multiple external ports, including RS232, GPIO, RS485, Wiegand, USB and Wi-Fi interfaces, in order to meet different clients' requirements. The device measures 190 millimeters by 145 millimeters by 30 millimeters (7.5 inches by 5.7 inches by 1.2 inches) and weighs 300 grams (10.6 ounces).

Neology, 3M Resolve Patent Litigation
Smartrac and 3M have announced an agreement between the two companies and Smartrac's subsidiary, Neology, a provider of RFID-based applications, including border control, vehicle registration, high-value pharmaceutical control, electronic toll collection, supply chain, passports and security. The agreement resolves patent infringement litigation that Neology initiated against 3M and Federal Signal Corp. relating to businesses purchased by 3M from Federal Signal in September 2012, according to the companies. Under the terms of agreement, Neology, Smartrac and 3M will have access to each other's RFID products in the transportation market. Specifically, Neology will have access to 3M's multi-protocol readers, while 3M will gain access to Smartrac's and Neology's tags and technology in the transportation market. This positions the firms as suppliers of ISO 18000-6C (EPC Gen 2) passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technologies for toll-collection applications. The agreement also includes a confidential financial arrangement, the companies report. In a prepared statement, Francisco Martinez de Velasco, Neology's CEO, said his company is excited and happy with the agreement, adding that "our patented cutting edge technologies allow us to manufacture superior products and provide excellent integration services tailored to our customers' needs. We are confident we will become a valuable supplier to 3M and its subsidiaries and look forward to advancing the 6C standard." Dan McGurran, 3M Motor Vehicle Systems and Services' business director, added in the statement that "3M is pleased to have reached an agreement that will allow both companies to solve the transportation market's pressing need for interoperability via the ISO 18000 6C technology. This will improve the efficiency of tolling and enhance the motorist experience."

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