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RFID News Roundup

Xerafy upgrades on-metal inlays and labels with more flexible material; Round Rock signs licensing agreements with Impinj, Tyco, Technology Solutions UK Ltd.; U.S. Department of Defense phases out legacy active tags; more than 150 grocery stores to deploy inMarket Bluetooth beacons; midsize retailers most likely to see value in item-level tagging, RSR study shows; tags comprise half of global RFID market, TechNavio says; cold temperatures can cause RFID cattle tags to break, PAMI researchers warn.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jan 09, 2014

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Xerafy; Impinj, Tyco, Technology Solutions Ltd. and Round Rock Research; the U.S. Department of Defense; inMarket; Retail Systems Research (RSR); TechNavio; and PAMI.

Xerafy Upgrades On-Metal Inlays and Labels With More Flexible Material
Industrial RFID tag supplier Xerafy has announced that it will replace its Metal Skin family of flexible ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID inlay and labels this year with updated versions. The Mercury inlays and labels have been redesigned based on customer feedback, the company reports. The new Gen1+ Mercury Metal Skin inlay and labels are made from more flexible material, according to Xerafy, enabling them to be attached more securely around small curved surfaces. The Gen1+ Mercury Metal Skin maintains the same look, feel and performance of the original product, the firm notes, and uses the same Impinj Monza 4E chip, adhesive and facestock. The new version contains substrate composed of expanded polyethylene (EPE), while the previous model uses polypropylene substrate material. The bending radius for the Gen1+ measures 40 millimeters (1.6 inches), compared with 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) in the original version. The updated version is compatible with most types of standard desktop RFID printer-encoders on the market, the company adds, such as those from Zebra Technologies, and has been tested and validated for the past few months by existing customers for their applications, such as asset management, product authentication, IT asset tracking and financial services. The Mercury Metal Skin is currently being phased out, Xerafy reports, and customers are encouraged to transition to the upgraded Gen1+ version.

Round Rock Signs Sign Licensing Agreements With Impinj, Tyco, Technology Solutions UK Ltd.
Round Rock Research has entered into licensing agreements with Impinj, Tyco Retail Solutions and Technology Solutions UK Ltd. (TSL). The settlements follows last year's flurry of agreements between Round Rock and a variety of RFID vendors (see Round Rock Completes Licensing Deals With Majority of RFID Vendors). Altogether, 12 RFID technology vendors and six end users have now licensing agreements with Round Rock. Jim Donaldson, Impinj's senior director of corporate communications, says Impinj had signed a reader licensing agreement with Round Rock, adding that "along with other licensees, we look forward to the acceleration of UHF RFID adoption as a consequence of this cloud being lifted from the industry." For its part, Tyco Retail Solutions' royalty-bearing agreement provides a worldwide license to Round Rock's RFID patents, allowing Tyco and its customers, to continue deploying innovative RFID solutions. That agreement covers Tyco's complete RFID portfolio of products, providing a mechanism for customers to deploy RFID solutions free of the Round Rock patent assertions. Tyco's RFID-based Inventory Intelligence solutions feature the company's Sensormatic RFID readers, antennas and tags, and TrueVUE software. The agreement, Tyco reports, allows its customers to use readers purchased from Tyco with tags purchased from Tyco or another licensed supplier. "For nearly 50 years, retailers have depended on Tyco products," said Nancy Chisholm, Tyco Retail Solutions' VP and general manager, in a prepared statement. "This agreement with Round Rock offers our retail customers a clear path to deploying our new RFID-based solutions, free of Round Rock patent assertions and without business interruption from potential litigation."

U.S. Department of Defense Phases Out Legacy Active Tags
Beginning this month, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has switched completely to active RFID tags based on the Joint Defense Total Asset Visibility (JDTAV) v2.5 format and complying with the ISO 18000-7 standard. Consequently, the DOD has retired all 433 MHz active tags based on the legacy JDTAV v2.0 format based on the ANSI/INCITS 256 standard. "ANSI and ISO tags have both been in the system since 2010, but the ANSI tags will no longer be used on shipments after January 1," said Andy Monday, the chief of U.S. Transportation Command's Logistics Enabling Support Division, in a prepared statement. According to the DOD, the change is expected to save the Defense Department at least $5 million annually in transportation and distribution costs. The limitations of the legacy format became apparent after more than a decade of war, the DOD explains. "Frankly, we were running out of tags since the ANSI standard has a limited number of unique tag ID numbers," Monday said. "Even though we emphasize tag reuse, many times the tags were lost or damaged after delivery." In contrast, he added, the ISO standard being introduced "provides virtually unlimited unique tag ID numbers, essential for maintaining in-transit visibility of shipments." Other benefits, Monday said in the statement, include the fact that the ISO 18000-7 standard has become a global commercial active RFID standard, and that the tags themselves are one-third the cost of the legacy ANSI tags. Using the ISO standard, according to the DOD, enables many RFID vendors to compete for DOD contracts, which leads to lower costs for customers—and, ultimately, for U.S. taxpayers. The DOD, TRANSCOM, the military services, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the General Services Administration (GSA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), coalition partners and others have been planning the transition, the DOD reports, and have been making the necessary hardware and software changes during the past five years in order to make the switch possible.

More Than 150 Grocery Stores to Deploy inMarket Bluetooth Beacons

inMarket's iBeacon
inMarket, a mobile in-store marketing solution, has announced the launch of its multi-retailer iBeacon platform. The platform leverages the inMarket iBeacon—a small (about the size of a quarter) battery-powered RFID tag that transmits a Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) 2.4 GHz signal and functions as a micro-location device to enable mobile application with higher accuracy than GPS. BLE technology has been tested in several pilots (see Macy's Tests Shopkick's ShopBeacon at New York, San Francisco Stores and Companies Deliver New Apps for Bluetooth Beacons). According to inMarket, the Mobile to Mortar network is a retailer-agnostic iBeacon platform designed to augment the shopping experience for consumers across the United States. The initial rollout will take place at more than 150 grocery stores in Seattle, San Francisco and Cleveland, and will include Safeway and Giant Eagle supermarkets, with additional retailers and markets launching during the coming months. As inMarket rolls out its iBeacon network, the company reports, it will provide shoppers with a wide range of benefits, such as custom coupons, loyalty rewards, and grocery list reminders while they are in the store. For example, a shopper who opts in can be reminded of items that his or her spouse just placed on their shared list. That customer can also earn loyalty rewards, or be directed to a custom special offer.

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