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Alien Releases New IC With Longer Read-Write Range, Error Protection

The company's Higgs-EC chip and inlays, as well as an Android-based handheld reader, are all designed to accommodate the rapid growth of item-level RFID tagging and the need to read those tags in high volumes.
By Claire Swedberg

Alien expects other RFID vendors will market their own tags made with the Higgs-EC chip. The first company to do so is SML Group, which this week announced the release of its GB4HEC inlay. The new inlay, which measures 42 millimeters by 16 millimeters (1.7 inches by 0.6 inch), takes advantage of all the Higgs-EC's features, according to the company. SML has also developed a new set of RFID labels incorporating the GB4HEC inlay. Those labels, the company reports, are designed for use with small or delicate items, such as intimate apparel, women's blouses or scarves, or gloves or accessories. "Because of the features of the Alien HEC IC," says Robert Wood, SML's director of RFID and technical services, "it adds to SML's inlay portfolio in sectors such as item-level tagging, pharma and retail, where additional user memory and additional security (dynamic authentication) may be needed for product authentication." SML will display the new inlay and labels next week at its LIVE! booth (#720).

The new Alien Android handheld reader, known as the ALR-H450, comes with a QWERTY keyboard and a battery life that extends throughout a typical workday. It is Wi-Fi- and 3G cellular-capable, as well as Bluetooth 4.0-enabled, and comes with a built-in GPS unit and a 2D bar-code scanner. One of the ways in which the device differentiates itself from other UHF handheld readers, however, is in its price. Mitchell says the reader will cost $1,599—which, he adds, is considerably less than the price of most comparable handheld readers.

Neil Mitchell, Alien's senior director of marketing
The new IC and tags are likely to be used for tracking apparel and other retail items that are considered fast-moving goods—products that may be packed in crates and then shipped in high volumes through warehouses and to retailers. "We think [the Higgs-EC chip] is going to create quite a stir in the industry," Mitchell says.

Alien Technology recently opened a new office and laboratory in San Jose, Calif., which, like the company's location in China, is being used for research and development. In addition, both sites, along with Alien's facility in Dayton, Ohio, are used to test specialty tags for particular applications, in response to requests from customers. "For the past 12 months, we've been building our research and development capability for the fast building of specialized and custom tags," Chang explains, noting that requests for such custom inlays are becoming more frequent. "We see a need in this segment."

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