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RFID News Roundup

RFID Journal unveils speakers for Europe conference; survey shows fewer U.S. consumers concerned about RFID; Avicon offers free EPC translation; ODIN benchmarks handheld readers; CompTIA launches RFID skills survey; Zebra, Intermec Cross-Licensing IP; Weber announces smart labels; RF Code receiving VC funding; ConnecTerra, Cisco work on AON version of RFTagAware.
By Ari Juels
Jun 24, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of June 20.

RFID Journal Unveils Speakers for Europe Conference
RFID Journal unveiled its lineup of speakers for RFID Journal LIVE! Europe, its European executive conference being held in Amsterdam, Oct. 10 to 12. The conference will feature addresses by John Clarke, chief technology officer at Tesco Stores; Gerd Wolfram, managing director, MGI Metro Group Information Technology; and Elgar Fleisch, research director of Auto-ID Lab at the University of St. Gallen. The event will cover the major issues raised about RFID deployments, including how to justify the cost of deploying the technology, how to cope with the flood of data from RFID systems and how to share data with supply chain partners. This is RFID Journal's first executive conference in Europe. Its most recent conference in the United States attracted 1,600 attendees. The company recently appointed an editor for Europe.

Survey Shows Fewer U.S. Consumers Concerned About RFID
Growth in U.S. consumer awareness of RFID has slowed, according to the latest quarterly RFID Consumer Buzz survey jointly carried out by market intelligence companies BIGresearch of Worthington, Ohio, and Artafact of Freemont, Calif. In June, 43.6 percent of the 8,400 adults surveyed were aware of RFID, up slightly from the 41 percent level found in March (see Consumers More RFID-Aware, Still Wary). "That less-than-three-point gain reflects that RFID awareness is reaching the saturation point. Forty-three percent awareness of anything is pretty high," says Linda Stegeman, Artafact’s president. A report on the survey notes that attitudes toward RFID and its use are stabilizing, with a third of respondents believing RFID adoption is "not a good idea." However, concern over RFID use is declining. Compared with previous quarters, when more than 67 percent were somewhat or very concerned about information being shared without their permission, only 58.7 percent expressed similar concerns this time. "There is a slight trend toward a more positive view of RFID, as more balanced information reaches consumers interested in the issue," says Stegeman. The June 2005 RFID Consumer Buzz report is available at BIGresearch’s Web site as a single report for $1,000, or as part of four quarterly reports priced at $3,750.

Avicon Offers Free EPC Translation
Avicon, an RFID systems integrator based in Westborough, Mass., has announced the availability of its epcTranslator, a tool based on EPCglobal's Tag Data Translation specification, which is currently being considered for standardization. The epcTranslator translates codes in various formats used by GS1 (formerly EAN International) and the U.S. Department of Defense to identify goods in the supply chain—including GTIN, SSCC, GLN, GRAI, GIAI, GID and CAGE/DODAAC—into Electronic Product Codes. This translation tool helps users of EPC data to communicate and translate codes from other formats into EPC, an important part of the movement of data through users' RFID systems. This tool can also translate EPCs back into their legacy code format. The translator can be used free of charge on Avicon's Web site by keying in a legacy code along with other information related to the code, such as object class, SKU or serial number. An application program interface to download the translator is also available for a 30-day trial, after which Avicon will charge an undisclosed nominal fee for maintenance. By downloading the translator, EPC users can integrate it into their own systems. Avicon says it is hoping to collaborate with other companies to be able to offer the API on a completely free basis.

ODIN Benchmarks Handheld Readers
ODIN Technologies, a Reston, Va.-based RFID systems integrator, has released a report on its benchmark analysis of four UHF handheld readers, or interrogators, designed to read tags based on the Class 1 Electronic Product Code specification. This follows benchmark reports of fixed readers and tags that ODIN released within the past year, and was developed in order to help end users find the most appropriate and best-performing handheld interrogators for their RFID deployments. The devices were tested against 16 criteria in each of three categories: performance, flexibility and ergonomics. ODIN says one handheld reader far outperformed the other three tested, and that the Symbol Technologies, Psion and LXE devices are the most advanced of the four tested. The RFID Handheld Reader Benchmark report is available as a single user license for $750, or as an enterprise-use license for $1,500 at www.odinrfid.com/store.

CompTIA Launches RFID Skills Survey
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a global IT trade organization that develops certification processes for the IT industry, has launched a new survey to identify the knowledge, skills and abilities individuals should have to be proficient in RFID technology. CompTIA will use survey results to define the content for its CompTIA RFID+ Certification Exam, which it says will be available by early 2006. The CompTIA RFID+ certification will validate a person’s knowledge and skills with respect to installation, maintenance, repair and upkeep of RFID hardware and software. To take the survey, known as the CompTIA RFID+ Blueprint Survey, click here. Individuals must have experience in RFID technology to complete the survey, such as installing and implementing RFID systems. To participate, you must first answer a series of qualifying questions . The survey was written with help from a committee of RFID experts that is also helping CompTIA develop the content of the certification exam.

Zebra, Intermec Cross-Licensing IP
RFID printer specialist Zebra Technologies, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., has joined Intermec's Rapid Start RFID intellectual property licensing program. The licensing program provides Zebra access to a number of Intermec portfolios of patented RFID technology, including RFID tags, fixed and portable readers, and fixed and portable printers. In addition, Zebra has exercised the cross-licensing provision of the Rapid Start program, providing Intermec access to Zebra's RFID innovations. No terms of the deals, such as what types of flat fees or royalties the two companies have agreed to, are being disclosed. The agreement was signed last week. Intermec, which holds more than 145 RFID patents, initiated this 90-day Rapid Start intellectual property licensing program in May. It is available only through Aug. 31 and is designed to provide access to Intermec RFID innovations and to clearly indicate which manufacturers and vendors are licensed to use Intermec's patented RFID technologies. Earlier this month, SAMSys became the first RFID technology vendor to license Intermec's RFID patents through the Rapid Start plan (see SAMSys Signs Up for Intermec IP License).

Weber Announces Smart Labels
Weber Marking Systems, a labeling systems developer based in Arlington Heights, Ill., has announced its SmartTrak pressure-sensitive smart labels, which include embedded 96-bit, read-write EPC Class 1 RFID inlays from Alien Technology, Omron and UPM Rafsec. The SmartTrak smart labels with Alien, UMP Rafsec and Omron inlays are available in 4-by-2.5-inch and 4-by-6-inch label sizes. SmartTrak labels with Alien and Omron labels are also available as 4-by-2-inch labels. In addition, Weber is providing a small roll of SmartTrack labels and a thermal-transfer printer ribbon for companies in the initial phases of establishing RFID programs. The labels are available now; pricing information has not yet been released.

RF Code Receiving VC Funding
RF Code, an eight-year-old developer of hybrid RFID data management software and enabling technologies based in Mesa, Ariz., says it is closing its first round of institutional funding with $20 million of venture capital from QuestMark Partners of Baltimore and Intel Capital of Santa Clara, Calif. The funding will support RF Code’s product development and sales efforts. RF Code also announced that Thomas Hitchner and Michael Leidesdorff of QuestMark Partners will join RF Code’s board of directors.

ConnecTerra, Cisco Work on AON Version of RFTagAware
RFID middleware provider ConnecTerra says it is developing a version of its core RFTagAware software to operate with network-equipment giant Cisco's newly announced Application-Oriented Networking (AON) messaging middleware. Cisco says AON will bring additional intelligence to networks through new router blade servers and software that will enable networks to exchange data with applications about traffic being carried over the network. General availability of Cisco’s AON blade servers is planned for this fall. ConnecTerra claims the AON version of its middleware will allow for greater management of RFID networks. "By bringing RFTagAware together with AON, our customers will be able to move more processing onto the network, as well as more flexibility in messaging and more quality of service and security," says Kenneth Traub, ConnecTerra’s chief technical officer. ConnecTerra says it is jointly working with Cisco on the AON version of RFTagAware product, which is set for launch later in this year.
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