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RFID News Roundup

Omron shipping Gen 2 inlays in October; European logistics provider to track 40,000 cars; printed RFID market to surpass $2 billion by 2010; SAMSys releases API to ease reader networking; Intelligent Systems becomes Vue Technology; SmartCode announces new reader, antenna; Axcess, Sun partner to integrate Java with ActiveTags.
By Ari Juels
Sep 09, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of Sept. 5.

Omron Shipping Gen 2 Inlays in October
Omron Electronics, an RFID hardware manufacturer based in Tokyo, says it will ship samples of its EPC UHF Class 1 Gen 2 inlays to label converters and RFID technology vendors in October. The company expects to begin mass production of the inlays in February. Omron says it is the first Japanese manufacturer to produce a Gen 2 inlay and expects to be the first to begin shipping inlay samples. The firm says it can ship up to 500,000 samples per month and plans on shipping a total of 200 million inlays during 2006, once it enters full production. Omron uses an ultrasonic bonding technique to mount its chips onto a strap on an inlay, then welds the strap to the antenna. Omron will continue to manufacture its current EPC Class1 UHF inlays for users until Gen 2 products become more widely adopted in the marketplace. The company estimates it will also ship 10,000 of its V740 Gen 2-ready UHF interrogators. Pricing for the Omron Gen 2 inlays has not been released.

European Logistics Provider to Track 40,000 Cars
WhereNet, based in Santa Clara, Calif., , says the Broekman Group, a shipping and logistics firm serving the automotive industry, has deployed WhereNet's active RFID real-time locating system (RTLS) technology in what the active RFID provider calls the largest active RFID RTLS installation to date. The system tracks up to 40,000 vehicles parked at any one time at the Broekman Group's automotive logistics terminal at the Port of Rotterdam, where the company stores and prepares vehicles for shipment. New vehicles arriving at the terminal are assigned an active RFID WhereTag transmitter. Saved to the transmitter's memory is a unique ID that correlates in a database with the car's vehicle identification number (VIN). The WhereTag stays on the vehicle until it has been processed and is ready to ship to one of several hundred European dealerships. Each tag is triggered to emit its signal, carrying a unique ID, when the tag enters the range of a WherePort device. WhereLAN locating access points then process the signal to determine where the tag is located within the terminal. The WhereNet system can also automatically record the arrival, dwell and departure times of each tag within specific terminal zones. The Broekman Group expects to realize a complete return on its investment in the WhereNet system in less than one year through numerous benefits, including labor savings, improved yard utilization and throughput, increased damage control (since vehicles can now be identified without workers having to open doors to read the VIN), and a competitive advantage through better customer service.

Printed RFID Market to Surpass $2 Billion by 2010
By 2010, the printable electronics market will generate more than $7 billion in revenues, and $2.2 billion of that will come from printed RFID tags and antennas, according to a new report from NanoMarkets. The analyst firm, based in Glen Allen, Va., studies nanotechnology within the electronics, biomedical, energy and specialty materials industries. Of that estimated $2.2 billion, the report says, $119 million will come from printed RFID antennas, $640 million from printed RFID tags for use on pallets and cases, and $1.4 million from printed RFID tags designed for individual products. The firm based the report, titled "Printable Electronics: Roadmaps, Markets and Opportunities," on phone and in-person interviews held with representatives from more than 30 companies in the printing, electronics and RFID industries, as well as on an informal Web-based survey. NanoMarkets initiated the research in late spring and completed the report in late August. Printable electronics, created using printing technologies, include circuitry made of conductive polymers and nano-metallic inks. The NanoMarkets' report says printable electronics technology can be used to mass-produce products more cheaply than conventional electronic-circuit production. German firm Poly IC has printed a passive RFID tag with a printed integrated circuit that operates at 125 kHz. The tag has a read range of 2-3 centimeters. And while a number of other companies, including OrganicID of Colorado Springs, Colo., are also developing printable RFID tags, they will need to operate in the 900 MHz range and have read ranges much longer than 2-3 centimeters to be viable for EPC deployments in the supply chain. Still, the printed electronics industry holds promise as a source of low-cost RFID tags, says the report.

SAMSys Releases API to Ease Reader Networking
SAMSys Technologies, a Durham, N.C., provider of RFID hardware, says it has launched RFID Application Programming Interface for Developers (RAPID). The new API was written to simplify the management of SAMSys RFID UHF readers by enabling developers to use Java and Microsoft .NET programming environments when writing interfaces to their RFID middleware or custom applications for controlling reader functions. SAMSys says it is offering RAPID at no charge with its MP9320 v2.8 UHF Gen 2 reader. The MP9320 interrogator reads tags compliant with the EPC UHF Gen 2 standard, as well as first-generation EPC Class 0 and 0+, EPC Class 1 tags, ISO 18000-6A, ISO 18000-6B, Philips UCODE 1.19, EM 4222 and Intermec Intellitag protocols. The reader is available in a North American version, as well as international versions that support frequencies for all global regulatory environments. SAMSys says it will demonstrate the RAPID programming interface at the EPCglobal conference in Atlanta from Sept. 13-15.

Intelligent Systems Becomes Vue Technology
Investment firms Partech International and Canaan Partners have acquired Intelligent Systems, a provider of RFID systems for item-level tracking of goods in the retail supply chain, and have renamed the company Vue Technology. Before it was acquired, Intelligent Systems was a division of MeadWestvaco's New Ventures Group. Partech International and Canaan Partners say Vue will continue to develop its RF networking and item-level RFID solutions, while also extending its sales and distribution capabilities. Vue Technology will operate independently from Canann and Partech, but representatives from Canaan, Partech and MeadWestvaco will serve on its board. According to Vue Technology, Best Buy, CVS Pharmacy and Tesco are evaluating its RFID systems, which include RFID-enabled smart shelves that monitor tagged products in real time. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

SmartCode Announces New Reader, Antenna
SmartCode, a New York provider of RFID hardware, has released the SR-90046 EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID interrogator. The device, which SmartCode says is the first low-cost Gen 2 reader available, has an integrated UHF antenna with a read range of up to 1 meter. Designed for applications in which the required reading distance is short, such as on belt conveyers, the SR-90046 is available now for $1,389. SmartCode has also released the SRA-372006, a UHF reader antenna measuring 11.8"x11.8"x1" (300x300x25mm). SmartCode says the SRA-372006 sells for less than $200 and is available now. Mounting kits for both the SR-90046 interrogator and the SRA-372006 are available for mounting on poles, portal doors, conveyers and walls.

Axcess, Sun Partner to Integrate Java With ActiveTags
Axcess International, the Dallas-based provider of the ActiveTag active RFID system, has joined the Sun Microsystems Partner Advantage Program and agreed to integrate its active RFID hardware with the Sun Java System RFID software. According to an Axcess spokesperson, this partnership will result in the first application of Sun's Java software in an active RFID system. Sun currently provides infrastructure and software systems for passive RFID deployments in logistics and supply chain applications. Making partnerships with active RFID providers such as Axcess, Sun explains, is part of its RFID strategy. The two companies plan to demonstrate active RFID application solutions soon at the Sun RFID Test Center in Dallas. The Sun RFID Test Center provides RFID system testing and evaluation services, using equipment from Sun and its partners.
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