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RFID News Roundup

3M, Texas Instruments to partner on drug tracking; specialized smart label materials from Technicote; BumbleBee spectrum analyzer sniffs out interference; Gemplus introduces GemProx readers; Manhattan Associates to open European demo labs.
By Ari Juels
Jun 17, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of June 13.

3M, Texas Instruments to Partner on Drug Tracking
3M has released a white paper entitled Securing the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain—The Authenticated RFID Platform, which is available as a free download. The publication of the paper coincides with an announcement between the Minneapolis-based firm and Texas Instruments that the two companies are working together on an integrated security solution for the pharmaceutical market's first authenticated RFID industry platform. This follows an announcement earlier this month that TI and VeriSign, with help from 3M and CCL Label, had designed an open drug-authentication model combining 13.56 MHz RFID technology and a public key infrastructure (PKI). TI hopes to join with 3M, CCL Label and VeriSign to develop applications based on the design and market them to drug manufacturers and other members of the pharmaceutical supply chain.

BumbleBee Spectrum Analyzer Sniffs Out Interference
Berkeley Varitronics Systems, a Metuchen, N.J.-based manufacturer of signal processing devices for RF, video and audio applications, has released the BumbleBee, a portable, precision spectrum analyzer that measures four distinct wireless bands: 900 MHz, 2.4-2.5 GHz, 5.1-5.5 GHz, and 5.5-5.9 GHz. The BumbleBee spectrum analyzer can be used to map out the RF noise environment within a facility in order to identify the type, strength and source of RF communications, such as 802.11 wireless LAN equipment, Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens and cordless phones. This information can be used to calibrate the frequencies used in RFID tagging operations. The BumbleBee spectrum analyzer operates through a Hewlett-Packard iPAQ Pocket PC PDA. Operators can use the iPAQ's touch screen to tap on points of interest in an RF waveform and zoom in for further analysis. The iPAQ can create JPG images of waveforms that can be saved as electronic files. A directional antenna (sold separately) can be attached to the analyzer and used to steer the device to the source of RF activity, in order to pinpoint sources of interference. The BumbleBee spectrum analyzer is available now for $2,500 and includes 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz omnidirectional antennas and a ruggedized case. The IPAQ must be purchased separately.

Specialized Smart Label Materials from Technicote
Technicote, an Ohio-based provider of pressure-sensitive label materials, has introduced a group of pressure-sensitive materials engineered for RFID smart labels. The products will include transRFID, a transfer adhesive used to coat the back side of an RFID inlay in the converting process to improve the overall adhesion of the label and reduce the chances of delamination between the liner from the label area of the chip inlay; RFIDfend, a face stock (paper, film, plastic, fabric or foil used as the top layer of label) designed to protect the RFID inlay from mechanical damage through shock or vibration; and RFIDna, a face stock and adhesive combination designed for security and anticounterfeiting applications that uses traceable lot numbers or taggants that are viewable only under black light, to authenticate the source of the label. These materials are available now. Technicote did not make pricing information available.

Gemplus Introduces GemProx Readers
Gemplus International, a Luxembourg-based provider of contact and contactless smart card products, is introducing GemProx, a series of 13.56 MHz contactless readers of RFID devices for identity, proximity payments, physical access control and mass transit. The GemProx readers have a read distance of up to 5 cm, work with ISO 14443 type A and B contactless cards, and are fully compatible with the U.S. Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 2011 standard, which was released this year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gemplus also offers an interface for Philips' 13.56 MHz Mifare chips, and chips using the T=CL 13.56 MHz communication protocol for contactless e-passport and credit cards. The complete series includes both modular and customized readers, as well as OEM couplers, chipsets and development kits. Gemplus also provides reader deployment kits. The readers are available now, but pricing information is not being released.

Manhattan to Open European Demo Labs
RFID middleware provider and systems integrator Manhattan Associates opened five RFID demonstration labs in France (Paris and Sophia Antipolis), Germany (Munich), the Netherlands (Utrecht) and the U.K. (Bracknell) on June 15. The labs, which offer EPC Class 1 RFID printers and readers from various vendors, are being used to demonstrate Manhattan Associates’ RFID software and provide live demonstrations of how Manhattan's warehouse management solutions can be used with RFID-tagged goods to automate the capture of RFID tag data from pallets, cases and items, as well as to automate operations such as loading and receiving. The facilities in Sophia Antipolis and Utrecht will also include product-testing labs. At these labs, Manhattan Associates consultants will assess the suitability of various RFID technologies and equipment for specific client products in a simulated customer environment. The labs are being opened with the support of Microsoft and several of Manhattan Associates’ industry partners.
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