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RFID News Roundup

Columbus McKinnon embeds InfoChip RFID tags in shackles, hoists; Convergence Systems Ltd. fixed reader includes 3G, GPS; TeleTracking, Hill-Rom integrate RTLS, hand-hygiene monitoring; Murata announces availability of RFID tag module with I2C interface; Motorola Solutions intros Workabout Pro 4 mobile computer with new RFID options; Palace Resorts implements InvoTech's RFID-enabled laundry system; Xerafy, Censis Technologies partner on RFID for sterilization of surgical instruments; IDTechEx expects RFID market to grow 17 percent this year.
By Beth Bacheldor

Motorola Solutions Intros New Workabout Pro 4 Mobile Computer with RFID Options

Motorola's Workabout Pro 4
Motorola Solutions has introduced its Workabout Pro 4 rugged mobile computer, a modular device that businesses can customize to meet their mobile workers' specific needs. The ergonomic Workabout Pro 4 now supports modules capable of reading low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags (linear and circular variants), Motorola Solutions reports. The new LF module now offers support for the Temic LF tag protocol; the HF module has two secure access module (SAM) sockets available for data encryption and secured transactions, while the UHF module has 1 Watt RF power for the United States and Canada (previously, it was limited to 0.5 Watt). The Workabout Pro 4 offers the following multi-modal options that were not available in earlier Workabout generations: the combination of RFID and camera (LF, HF and UHF linear); the combination of RFID and GPS; and the combination of RFID and UMTS/HSPA (GPRS only on Workabout Pro 3). The Workabout Pro 4 is designed for manufacturing, transportation and logistics, warehousing, field service and government environments, for applications such as voice picking, proof of delivery, vehicle maintenance and remote expert solutions. It is built on an entirely new platform that includes a faster 1 GHz Sitara AM37x processor, a larger memory footprint with 512 MB RAM and 4 GB flash memory, and 802.11n support. New modules include an 8-megapixel camera, new Motorola Scan Engines (1D standard range laser, 1D extended range laser, 1D linear imager and 2D imager), and a GPS/Wi-Fi antenna (along with the RFID modules). With the high-resolution 8-megapixel camera, Motorola Solutions reports, a user can take advantage of new applications, such as capturing indisputable proof of delivery and documenting damaged packages. The device uses Microsoft's Windows Embedded CE 6.0 and Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 operating systems, as well as Bluetooth communications and optional wireless wide-area network (WAN) communications.

Palace Resorts Implements InvoTech's RFID-Enabled Laundry System
Palace Resorts has recently installed InvoTech Systems' Multi-Property RFID Linen and Laundry Systems to automate control of its linen inventories and establish more efficient laundry operations at all seven of its oceanfront resort properties, as well as at its laundry distribution center. Palace Resorts has approximately 500,000 linens tagged with EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID laundry tags made by Fujitsu Frontech North America. The solution includes Impinj UHF RFID Speedway Revolution readers for all fixed reading stations, and MC9190-Z handheld readers from Motorola Solutions, utilizing InvoTech Mobile Software. InvoTech installed UHF-RFID Linen Reading Stations at each Palace Resort for the real-time tracking and processing of entire laundry carts of soiled linens going to Palace Resorts' laundry distribution center, InvoTech reports. The UHF-RFID Linen Reading Stations also process pallets of bundled clean linens returned by the laundry. The pallets carry as many as 3,000 linen items, according to the company. InvoTech has provided Palace Resorts with both Spanish- and English-language operating systems, so each user can specify his or her preferred language for ease of use. InvoTech also supplied onsite system training and reference guides in both Spanish and English. Palace Resorts' corporate operations director, Lorena Zahoul, has said that the systems will help consolidate all laundry processing, centralize inventory and increase staff productivity. The resort also utilizes InvoTech's Multi-Property Uniform System to track and manage employee uniforms. The system maintains employee uniform assignments, establishes accountability and reduces loss, InvoTech reports, while also enabling Palace Resorts to transfer uniforms between properties—which, the firm reports, has significantly reduced uniform purchases since the system's installation in 2008.

Xerafy, Censis Technologies Partner on RFID for Sterilization of Surgical Instruments
RFID tag supplier Xerafy is teaming up with Censis Technologies, a provider of surgical instrument tracking solutions. The two companies are working on a solution that leverages Xerafy's on-metal RFID tags and Censis' Censitrac portfolio to provide an accurate, time-saving alternative to bar codes and other methods used for tracking surgical instruments and trays as they are moved between sterile processing departments (SPDs), operating rooms and other areas. Censitrac has multiple software modules that give hospitals the ability to track the locations of surgical instruments, trays and other assets in real time, produce usage history and asset utilization reports, ensure proper sterilization procedures are followed, maintain reprocessing records and provide other information to optimize OR management and improve patient safety. Censitrac users typically apply Data Matrix two-dimensional (2D) bar codes to the items they want to track and manage, but RFID tags provide an alternative identification method. The development effort will leverage Xerafy's on-metal RFID tag, such as the Roswell tag (see New Stainless-Steel Ultra-rugged Tag Promises Durability for Health Care, Oil and Gas) and its XS series. According to the two companies, the tags are small enough to be attached unobtrusively to surgical instruments and trays, can withstand hundreds of autoclave cycles, comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) biocompatibility requirements and meet the ISO 18006-C and GS1 EPCglobal Gen 2 RFID technology standards. Xerafy believes that its Roswell and XS series tags to be the only EPC Gen 2-standard tags tested to survive 1,000 autoclave sterilization cycles. For some time now, Censis has had the necessary application programming interfaces (APIs) embedded in its Censitrac applications so that they can accept and leverage input from real-time location system (RTLS) and RFID solutions, according to Mike Patterson, Censis' senior VP of sales and marketing. For example, Censis' Censitrac portfolio works with Intelligent InSites' software designed to help hospitals improve patient satisfaction and operational performance while supporting multiple RFID and RTLS technologies. Patterson describes the work with Xerafy as an active research-and-development effort.

IDTechEx Expects RFID Market to Grow 17 Percent This Year
The RFID market—including tags, readers, software and services, for passive and active RFID—will grow from $7.88 billion in 2013 to $9.2 billion this year, representing a 17 percent growth in just one year, according to new research conducted by IDTechEx. While most growth is due to active RFID and real-time location system (RTLS) solutions, interrogators and then tags, in terms of total money spent, the market for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags grew rapidly, according to the research firm, from just over 3 billion tags last year to 3.9 billion tags in 2014. IDTechEx estimates that 2.48 billion passive high-frequency (HF) tags will be sold this year, though at a much higher average sales price than passive UHF tags, so the money spent on HF tags will be almost ten times more. According to the research firm, the highest-volume sector for passive UHF systems is retail apparel—which still has some way to go, with RFID penetrating only about 7 percent of the total addressable market for apparel in 2014. IDTechEx says it conducted extensive interviews with RFID suppliers, and that there are now emerging or established leaders in most positions of the value chain across the different technologies. However, it notes, very few companies have sales of more than $100 million. IDTechEx expects that the RFID market will reach $30.2 billion in 2024. This research was conducted for the report "RFID Forecasts, Players and Opportunities 2014-2024," which provides key data and analysis in all main applications of the RFID market.

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