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RFID News Roundup

Major North American retailer adopts Checkpoint Systems' RFID solutions; Phychips selects Thinkify as its exclusive North American distributor; Blue Spark, Trace Tech to develop disposable RFID temperature sensors; KTS announces Bluetooth HF RFID reader; Crescent Guardian and NControl collaborate on RFID-enabled security solutions; University of Melbourne researchers study effect of GS1 standards on supply chain integration, efficiency; Macy's launches visual recognition app to simplify consumer purchases.
By Beth Bacheldor

Crescent Guardian and NControl Collaborate on RFID-enabled Security Solutions
Crescent Guardian, a security firm providing physical security and technology solutions, and NControl Security Integrations, a provider of RFID asset-tracking services, have announced a partnership to develop custom solutions designed to protect buildings, assets and individuals. Crescent Guardian provides end-to-end security that integrates multiple technologies and services, such as access control, video surveillance and RFID asset tracking, into a single solution for companies. "Customers have told us they want one person, one company, to be responsible for all their security systems they use," says Ray Cavanagh, Crescent Guardian's VP. "So if an alarm goes off in the middle of the night, there's only one company to call. You don't have to call the alarm company, and then the surveillance camera services provider, and others. Customers can just call us." According to Cavanaugh, Crescent Guardian—which already features RFID products in its portfolio—opted to partner with NControl because NControl offers a wide variety of active and passive RFID products from multiple vendors, and also specializes in asset tracking. That variety is essential to providing custom security solutions to meet each client's specific needs, Cavanaugh explains. The two companies will work together to integrate NControl's various asset-tracking systems, including NEAT Lite, NEAT and NEAT Enterprise, into Crescent Guardian's portfolio of security solutions. NEAT Lite is an entry-level asset-tracking system that supports up to five IP-based RFID readers. It is available in various packages, including one version that comes with a single reader, 10 asset tags and the software, as well as another version that only includes the software for customers that already have IP-based RFID hardware. NControl also offers the NEAT System, which lets users define various rules to perform "on-demand" actions when required. According to Crescent Guardian and NControl, this scalable system can track different types of assets, determine asset directionality, control doors, generate workstation alarms and activate video cameras, and offers two-man rule of increased security. The NEAT System is also available in various packages. NEAT Enterprise is designed for large-scale installations for which multiple locations are monitored, and gathers asset information from multiple locations, displaying the information on a single user interface. It can support up to 50 locations with an unlimited total of readers and assets. Like the other solutions, the system is available in various package options.

University of Melbourne Researchers Study Effect of GS1 Standards on Supply Chain Integration, Efficiency

Project Noah: When it Comes to the Crunch
New findings from a study in Australia show that the adoption of a number of technologies based on GS1 standards can lead to more integrated and efficient supply chains. The research study, named Project Noah, was conducted by the Department of Management and Marketing at the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Business and Economics, in cooperation with GS1 Australia. Two reports, titled "Project Noah: To Integrate or Not to Integrate? A Ten-Year Study of Australian Businesses" and the "Project Noah: When it Comes to the Crunch—A Study of Australian Businesses," are the result of the joint research study, which is based on surveys of GS1 Australia's membership. The objective of the research was to gain a deeper understanding of the issues affecting the adoption and use of supply chain technology standards in Australia. According to the researchers, the studies reveal how supply chain integration is a critical strategy for businesses today. In "When it Comes to the Crunch—A Study of Australian Businesses," researchers found that the bar code is the number-one GS1 standards-based technology used by Australian businesses, and that the other three technologies—e-messaging, GDSN and EPC RFID—were recorded at similar levels of moderate to low usage. Adoption of EPC RFID technology was found to be low across all sectors, though usage was slightly higher for agricultural and food and beverage applications. Interestingly, the study found that businesses that have been members of GS1 Australia for more than 10 years were using e-messaging and EPC RFID at much lower levels than newer members. The study states that researches "expected businesses who are GS1 members to learn about and increase their usage of GS1 standards based technologies over time, especially as they would receive frequent communications promoting the technologies. However, this appears not to be the case." The study attributes this to the fact that businesses tend to approach GS1 when they have already decided to implement the technologies, but notes that "there is a real opportunity for GS1 and existing members to work together to ensure businesses understand the advantages of GS1 standards based technologies above and beyond what they are mandated to do." The research project collected data only from Australian firms, according to Dr. Richard Lars Gruner, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne. "I suspect that many of our findings also apply to countries where they use similar—or even the same—GS1-based technology standards," he states. "But I can, of course, not make this statement with any certainty without having collected and analyzed data from these countries."

Macy's Launches Visual Recognition App to Simplify Consumer Purchases
While many retailers and product manufacturers are trying out QR codes and Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags to provide customers with additional information about a product, Macy's is taking a different tack. The company is launching a new mobile application that leverages visual recognition technology so shoppers can purchase items whenever and wherever they are. The new Macy's Star Gifts app has NantMobile's iD visual recognition technology integrated into it, so customers can purchase items from Macy's Star Gifts catalog by simply pointing the device at a particular Star Gift item, featured on a page within the catalog, and then tapping the device's screen to view additional information about that product. Star Gift items will also be featured in magazine advertisements, on outdoor digital billboards and in public spaces, such as subway stations, bus shelters and windowscapes, as well as in other catalogs available throughout the holiday shopping season. When NantMobile's technology recognizes an item, the Macy's app serves up product information, gift-giving assistance, videos and more. The Macy's Star Gifts app is available for free at iTunes and Google Play. For a limited time, through Nov. 17, 2013, shoppers can also scan the first page of the Star Gifts catalog to receive a $10 Macy's mobile Gift Code, enabling them to kick-start their holiday gift shopping. NantMobile says its technology platform can recognize 2D images, 3D objects, television content, music, speech, and QR and bar codes from any mobile computing device, capturing both the time and location of activation in real time.

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