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RFID News Roundup

NXP's free online antenna-designing tool helps electronics manufacturers embed UHF tags in their products; RFIDdirect intros cold-chain tracking solution with CAEN RFID temperature loggers; Star Systems International announces secure headlamp tags for tolling and AVI applications; French sports retailer rolls out Nedap Retail's RFID-enabled EAS systems to hundreds of stores worldwide; Wooshping partners with GameLayer on NFC-based gamification solutions; Microsoft researchers develop 'acoustic NFC' technology for non-RFID phones.
By Beth Bacheldor
Aug 22, 2013

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: NXP Semiconductors; RFIDdirect, CAEN RFID; Star Systems International; Nedap Retail; Wooshping, GameLayer; and Microsoft.

NXP's Free Online Antenna-Designing Tool Helps Electronics Manufacturers Embed UHF Tags in Their Products
NXP Semiconductors has unveiled a new software application designed to help electronics manufacturers more easily embed an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) range (840 to 960 MHz) RFID tag in their products. The RFID–PCB Antenna Designer helps manufacturers implement antennas on a printed circuit board (PCB). According to NXP, UHF antenna design is more complex than that of a typical high-frequency (HF) antenna, and requires an expert understanding of the electronic design constraints. For example, small changes have a big impact on performance and UHF antenna design is full of compromises, NXP reports in a blog written about the new design software. One size does not fit all, the company notes, and requirements must be traded off against each other in order to achieve something that functions in the desired way. There are also challenges involving size and form factor, NXP adds, particularly when integrating RFID functionality into consumer electronics that are becoming increasingly smaller, leaving little room on the PCBs. A good UHF antenna, the company says, needs a lot of board space, or else the designer must shorten it by twisting and turning the design. To create a turnkey UHF antenna design for a specific application, users can visit the RFID-PCB Antenna Designer Web page and input such parameters as the RFID chip being used (the tool supports only the following NXP chips: the Ucode I2C in the SOT902 package, the Ucode G2iL in the SOT886 package, and the Ucode G2iM in the SOT886 package), the space available on the PCB, the target performance, the board materials and the target frequency range (based on the region of the world in which the device will be sold and used). Additionally, NXP reports, the tool offers an overview of all features of the Ucode portfolio, thus enabling designers to select the proper Ucode product for their particular application. An easy-to-use interface helps non-RFID experts design high-performance antennas, according to the company, and the software supports customized and application-specific antenna design. Available now, the software was produced with support from Computer Simulation Technology (CST), a developer of high-performance software for the simulation of electromagnetic fields in all frequency bands, as well as Transim Technology, which delivers cloud application engineering solutions for online design support in the electronics industry.

RFIDdirect Intros Automated Temperature Logging for Cold Chain Processes

CAEN RFID's RT0005 temperature-logging tag
RFIDdirect has announced its Log 2.0 system, designed for tracking and tracing temperature-sensitive and perishable items while they are being transported and stored. The system is composed of two main components: RFIDdirect's Log 2.0 software and a CAEN RFID semi-passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) temperature-logging RFID tag (either the RT0005 or A9272 model). To use the system, a customer would employ an RFID reader (such as CAEN's qID Bluetooth UHF handheld scanner or Slate UHF USB desktop reader), and the device would forward that data to RFIDdirect's Log 2.0 software, operating in the cloud. The Log 2.0 software would then analyze the RFID and temperature data and generate reports, and/or transmit that information to the user's back-end software system. The semi-passive temperature tags can be programmed to conduct temperature reads at intervals that suit product requirements. Temperature thresholds can also be set on each tag—which, when exceeded, will trigger an onscreen alert via the Log 2.0 software. The tags are re-useable, last up to three years and feature a memory capacity capable of storing up to 8,000 temperature measurements. The Log 2.0 software records items' temperatures at every stage, RFIDdirect indicates, and provides the history of product temperature throughout the cold-chain processes used by food manufacturers and distributors, pharmaceutical companies, chemicals companies, biomedical companies and more. According RFIDdirect, the current cold-chain systems leverage manual, visual checks for "spoilage," a method that is limiting and often inaccurate. Log 2.0 automates checks so that it is easier to prevent spoilage, the company adds. What is unique about Log 2.0, according to Frits Van Calker, RFIDdirect's managing director, is that the system can be personalized from tag requirements down to report generation.

Star Systems International Announces Secure Headlamp Tags for Tolling and AVI Applications

Star Systems' Aries UHF vehicle headlamp tag
Star Systems International, an RFID hardware provider and value-added distributor, has announced the availability of a new RFID tag designed specifically for automatic vehicle identification (AVI) applications, such as toll collection, electronic vehicle registration, parking, secure access and fleet management. According to Star Systems, the Aries tag, compliant with the ISO 18000-6C and EPC Gen 2 standards, is tuned to work while affixed to a vehicle's headlights, thereby providing an alternative for scenarios in which a tag cannot be used due to a windshield's metallic content, or for aesthetic reasons. Designed specifically for vehicle-identification applications, the tag features a patented Break-On-Removal anti-theft technology that, according to the company, protects users by rendering the tag useless when removed. The small, clear tag is constructed to withstand extreme weather and harsh driving environments, Star Systems reports, and the Aries' IC offers read-lock and/or write-lock features on 64-bit blocks, allowing it to support a variety of public or private usage models. The IC also features a factory-programmed and permanently locked 64-bit serial number that cannot be altered. In conjunction with the Electronic Product Code (EPC) data and optional uniquely generated access codes, the tag provides a high-level of security for every tagged vehicle and its collected data, according to Star Systems. Sometimes, says Chris Cheung, Star Systems' senior applications manager, an RFID tag cannot be placed on a windshield due to how the vehicle is configured—and in the case of motorcycles and motor scooters, there might not even be a windshield present. The Aries tag was designed as a solution for such situations, Cheung says, and can be read consistently on vehicles driving at high speeds and in harsh environments.

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