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RFID News Roundup

Dutch shoe company Wolky to affix RFID labels on shoeboxes during production; Concord Hospital implements Logi-D replenishment system; Balluff offers new performance-based training for RFID; Fluensee rebrands as TrackX, announces investment; William Frick & Co. adds 3D printing services for rapid prototyping of tags; SITA implements NFC-enabled boarding pass system at Schiphol Airport; AccelerateNFC begins inaugural class, Startupbootcamp ends first program.
By Beth Bacheldor

Fluensee Rebrands as TrackX, Announces Investment

Fluensee, a provider of RFID-enabled asset-tracking and supply chain solutions, has announced that it has rebranded under the name TrackX, and that it has received an investment from Robb Capital Group (RCG), a private equity firm investing in technology companies. The rebranding and investment is designed to help the company extend its position in the delivery of RFID-enabled solutions, and to leverage the strength of its technology portfolio to deliver these capabilities within a cloud environment, according to RCG Group and TrackX. The investment from RCG Group—which has holdings and intellectual properties in a number of startups in health care, technology, health sciences, insurance and transportation—consists of funds that will allow TrackX to scale up its sales, marketing, delivery and partner channel in response to an increased demand for its RFID-enabled asset-management solutions from a growing customer base, says Robb James, RCG Group's chairman. RCG Group's team will assist TrackX in the areas of finance, administration, legal and marketing. According to James, TrackX will focus on expanding use of its RFID-enabled asset-tracking platform to the health-care, retail and personnel-safety sectors, and will also continue to expand on its existing solutions for managing yards, high-value assets, returnable containers and IT equipment. What's more, he adds, the firm will package its many supply chain-oriented capabilities into a comprehensive and tightly integrated Supply Chain Management Suite, and will incorporate new features and support for smartphone and iOS devices, sensor technologies and real-time location technologies across all of its solutions. In addition, the company will deliver its solutions in a cloud environment. "Over the past couple of years, TrackX has seen a significant shift in the demand by customers from on-premise-based solutions toward hosted, cloud-based delivery options," James says. "The TrackX RFID-enabled Asset Management Delivery Platform was initially architected to be delivered via the cloud, so it is uniquely positioned to accommodate this shift from more traditional enterprise licensing to cloud-based delivery. The advantages to customers are many. The cloud solution allows for quick deployments and implementations, and it allows for virtually limitless scale. Various levels of redundancy and security will be offered as well."

SITA Implements NFC-enabled Boarding Pass System at Schiphol Airport
An organization representing 80 airlines and ground handlers at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has announced that it will implement Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to streamline passenger boarding processes, as part of a five-year partnership with IT provider SITA. The Schiphol CUTE Local User Board (CLUB), which represents the airport's common-use technology users, has signed a new contract for SITA's AirportConnect Open passenger processing platform. SITA's AirportConnect Open enables airports, airlines and their handling agents to access their respective IT applications in real time on shared equipment. It also allows any airline to utilize any agent desk, gate position or self-service kiosk for passenger check-in, bag drop and boarding, according to SITA. Deployed in a virtual environment, AirportConnect Open helps provide an efficient journey for the airport's 52 million annual passengers, SITA reports. The contract includes NFC technology—which, SITA explains, means Schiphol has also become the first airport in Europe to "future-proof" its passenger processing platform by connecting it with NFC technology. By using NFC-enabled smartphones, passengers will be able to pass through a special boarding gate at the airport with the simple tap of the phone. The gate—which uses Access-IS' BGR135 boarding gate reader, which accepts both bar-code documents and RFID-enabled media—links with SITA's AirportConnect Open passenger processing platform and will automatically read passenger boarding passes, SITA reports, even if their phones are turned off or out of battery power. The BGR135 can also read the traditional two-dimensional boarding passes currently in use. The Schiphol CLUB's AirportConnect Open renewal with SITA covers some 700 positions at check-in desks, as well as at transfer and reclaim areas, and also includes 90 common-use, self-service kiosks that passengers can use for checking in. At this stage in the deployment, there is a single NFC-enabled gate in place, connected to the airport's common-use passenger processing system. "As more smart phones incorporate NFC, more airlines will start asking for this technology. That's why we have already equipped a gate with NFC and connected it to our common-use passenger processing system—and we're inviting airlines to try it," said Jan Bruns, the chair of the Schiphol CUTE Local User Board, in a prepared statement.

AccelerateNFC Begins Inaugural Class, Startupbootcamp Ends First Program
OTA Ventures has announced the first four companies to be accepted into its inaugural AccelerateNFC seed accelerator program. The AccelerateNFC program, which began on Jan. 21, 2014, is designed to nurture, mentor, advise and help fund Near Field Communication (NFC)-based startup companies, according to OTA Ventures, in order to fill the void in application development and enable businesses to drive the growth and adoption of NFC. The four companies accepted into the AccelerateNFC program are inProximity, the creator of the EatingOut mobile Web app that provides hotel guests and employees of local businesses with hyper-localized information regarding restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, cafes, bars and more, via a smartphone enabled with NFC technology or a QR scanner, all without installing an app; NFC Game Studio, which develops video games, board games and educational products using NFC to bridge the real world and the digital world; TapSpaces, an NFC product-design firm focused on marketing activation sites and interaction-based efforts; and True Mileage, which has developed a comprehensive, cost-effective NFC solution for in-vehicle data capture. Participants began their 12-week, intensive program on Jan. 21, and the program will culminate with Pitch Days in various cities around the United States. Meanwhile, a similar business accelerator, Startupbootcamp NFC & Contactless, has wound up its inaugural program, which launched in Amsterdam in October 2013 and ended on Jan. 17. Ten participating companies, from seven different countries, were guided by a pool of mentors on every aspect of their business, team and proposition. The 10 high-potential startups are all developing wireless and interactive products, and are focused on a variety of markets and applications, including the Internet of Things, online and mobile marketing, sports analytics, retail and loyalty systems, smart city and security, the pet industry, safety for children, and the food industry. AccelerateNFC and Startupbootcamp NFC & Contactless were introduced in June 2013 (see A Pair of Business Accelerators Focus on NFC RFID Startups).

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