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RFID News Roundup

Sproutel's RFID-enabled bear helps kids cope with Type-1 diabetes; Tap For Message puts NFC technology in greeting cards, invitations and more; Acura Global intros new NFC RFID reader module; Dwinq's RFID solution helps Lexus reach social media during U.S. Open; MicroGen powers wireless sensor network at Rochester Institute of Technology; Nintendo to begin selling NFC-enabled Pokémon figurines for the Wii U.
By Beth Bacheldor

Dwinq's RFID Solution Helps Lexus Reach Social Media During U.S. Open
During three events at this year's U.S. Open golf championship, luxury-car maker Lexus leveraged an RFID-enabled solution from Dwinq to let attendees interact, play online games and watch videos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social-media sites. Dwinq, an RFID and social-media company based in Cambridge, Mass., calls its solution a "social-media operating system," comprising software, passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID-enabled ID cards from Vanguard ID Systems, and a combination of readers from different vendors to interrogate those tags. Hundreds of guests at the golf courses who visited the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion automatically shared their experiences with their social-media friends and followers via the Dwinq platform, which can immediately transmit photographs, onsite activations and real-time videos to the Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube accounts of those attendees who opt in to the system. U.S. Open attendees were given the ID cards at the Lexus pavilion, which they signed up for and activated on an Apple iPad. That data was then linked to the unique ID number encoded to their badge's RFID tag. Various stations contained kiosks for interactive games, a photo booth and a swing simulator, and at each station, a reader collected the tag IDs and other data related to the event, which was then forwarded to the user's selected social network. The engaging activations for the U.S. Open were created by Lexus' agency of record, Team One, located in El Segundo, Calif. Dwinq partnered with Lexus on a similar offering at last year's U.S. Open, and has also worked with other companies for similar social-media initiatives (see Nissan Europe Uses RFID-enabled Social Media to Drive Consumer Interest and Cadbury Offers RFID-enabled Treats During Summer Olympics).

MicroGen Powers Wireless Sensor Network at Rochester Institute of Technology
MicroGen Systems (MicroGen), a manufacturer of piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems (piezo-MEMS), has announced that it is testing its vibrational energy harvesters or micro-power generators (MPG) in partnership with the Facilities Management Services department of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). MicroGen installed its harvesters on the RIT campus to monitor a wireless sensor network (WSN), and to measure temperatures on exhaust and air-handling equipment operating within RIT's Science Building. MicroGen's MEMS technology is designed to capture and store energy for WSNs. MEMS—small silicon chips that can combine mechanical elements, sensors, actuators and electronics—have been used for several decades, in everything from inkjet printers to accelerometers that deploy air bags in cars (see RFID News Roundup: MicroGen Gets Funding for MEMS-based Energy Harvester). According to MicroGen, its BOLT power cells were mounted on various exhaust fans and blowers that exhibited a range of vibrational frequencies. BOLT power cells are 3.3-volt DC power sources, which contain a piezo-MEMS energy harvester, AC to DC conversion electronics, and a small amount of capacitive energy storage. They are intended to replace or supplement batteries, the company reports, providing at least 100 microwatts to 1.0 milliwatt at frequencies ranging between 100 Hz and 1500 Hz at low acceleration levels greater than or equal to 0.1 g. At RIT, the power cells were used for five weeks to enable Texas Instruments' eZ430 wireless sensor motes in a WSN. In addition, temperatures were monitored. "This type of installation using wireless sensors and vibrational energy harvesting provides the flexibility for existing buildings to quickly implement a sensing system for monitoring building performance, which will help in energy conservation and maintenance costs," said Catherine Ahern, an RIT adjunct professor who also serves as the director of engineering services in the university's Facilities Management Services organization. "Coupling the MicroGen's BOLT energy harvesting technology with the wireless motes also will be much less expensive than wired solutions in installation." MicroGen will leave a subset of the self-powered wireless sensors in place for continued analysis and study indefinitely, the company indicates. A similar TI mote-based WSN was set up in early June at the Sensors Expo, held in Rosemont, Ill. MicroGen completed this project as part of a NY State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) commercialization contract award (see MicroGen Gets Funding for MEMS-based Energy Harvester).

Nintendo to Begin Selling NFC-enabled Pokémon Figurines for the Wii U

An NFC-enabled Pokémon figurine and the Wii U game pad
Video game purveyor GameStop will begin selling Nintendo's Pokémon figurines embedded with Near Field Communication (NFC) tags for the Wii U in the United States on Aug. 29, according to the Pokémon Web site. The NFC figurines will work with a new game in the Pokémon Rumble series, known as Pokémon Rumble U, which utilizes the features of the Nintendo Wii U system, including the NFC RFID reader to the game's controller. When announced in February 2012 (see RFID News Roundup: Nintendo to Add NFC to Wii U Controller), Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata, said the NFC functionality would enable the creation of "cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data via noncontact NFC, and to expand the new play format in the video-game world. Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities, such as using it as a means of making micropayments." The forthcoming NFC-enabled Pokémon figurines have NFC bases that can be placed on the NFC reader at the bottom-left of the Wii U controller, which interrogates each figurine's statistics and abilities, and then places that character in the game.

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