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RFID News Roundup

Dow joins EPCglobal; Gartner says RFID to grow to $3 billion in 2010; Zebra announces Gen 2 firmware availability; Symbol, Vue developing item-level tracking solutions; RFID in China: uneven growth; Gen 2 start kits from Avery Dennison Printer Systems; ToP Shop selling Rafsec, other RFID goods; NCR partnership targets Mediterranean market; Inside Contactless raises €9 million.
By Andrew Price
RFID in China: Uneven Growth
Has RFID technology in China matured? That depends on what frequency and standards you're referring to, says a new study from ABI Research, an Oyster Bay, N.Y., market researcher. Applications using RFID devices that operate in the low-frequency range have matured and are widely deployed for such things as access control. High-frequency applications are also strong and serve the largest RFID markets—namely, identification and transportation (such as highway toll collection cards). Ultra-high frequency applications, however, are still in the start-up phase, says the report's author, Junmei He. The regulation of the UHF band in China is still evolving, and ABI Research does not expect to see a national Chinese UHF RFID standard published in 2006. The author notes that the high costs of UHF products and problems with readability are also holding Chinese companies back from moving forward with UHF applications. The report suggests, however, that companies should consider the use of UHF RFID in closed-loop environments, where technology standards are not as relevant as in open-loop applications. The report is available at ABI's Web site for $4,000.

Gen 2 Start Kits From Avery Dennison Printer Systems
Avery Dennison Printer Systems, a business unit of Avery Dennison, has announced Gen 2 starter kits to help companies begin printing and encoding RFID smart labels in compliance with EPCglobal's Class 1 Gen 2 UHF inlays. The kits come in two configurations. The Basic kit, designed for companies generating small volumes of tags, includes Avery Dennison Printer Systems' AP 5.4 printer-encoder, label formatting software, a thermal transfer ribbon and one complementary roll of RFID labels. The Industrial kit, designed for larger volumes, also includes the software, ribbon and labels, and comes with Avery Dennison Printer Systems' 64-05 printer-encoder instead of the AP 5.4. The Industrial kit costs $7,395, compared to $6,195 for the Basic set. The AP 5.4 printer-encoder has a 32-bit processor and prints 8 inches per second at 200 dots per inch (dpi) resolution. The 64-05 printer-encoder has a 64-bit processor, prints 16 inches per second at 300 dpi and uses a printing process designed to protect the chip inside the RFID inlay from damage by the print head. Both printers are available with a wireless network connectivity option.

ToP Shop Selling Rafsec, Other RFID Goods
Finnish RFID systems integrator ToP Tunniste and RFID tag and inlay manufacturer UPM Rafsec are partnering to make Rafsec products, including EPC Class 1 Gen2 OneTenna UHF tags and Rafsec HF smart labels, available for purchase online at the ToP Shop netstore, operated by ToP Tunniste. The agreement makes ToP Shop a global distribution channel for UPM Rafsec tags, which can be purchased in quantities as low as 100 pieces. ToP Shop also sells RFID starter kits from FEIG Electronic and RFID-enabled mobile phones and phone components from Nokia.

NCR Partnership Targets Mediterranean Market
NCR, the Dayton, Ohio, technology and IT services firm, and Business Effectiveness, an Athens, Greece, provider of RFID hardware and supply chain solutions and RFID systems integration services, are partnering to offer RFID solutions combining business strategy consulting, systems integration, deployment and project management. The companies say they will work together in Greece and neighboring countries with NCR clients that are evaluating, implementing and expanding the use of RFID technology. The two firms will work to identify clients in the retail and consumer goods industries that could benefit from operational efficiencies and business process improvements through the use of RFID technology.

Inside Contactless Raises €9 Million
French RFID specialist Inside Contactless has raised €9 million ($10.6 million) in a new round of financing that has brought in three new investors to the company, including Visa International, the global credit card company that has long been working to promote contactless payments. Visa states that contactless payments are strategically significant to its operations and that Inside Contactless' experience with the technology will help Visa push contactless payments into banks and merchant operations. New investors Sofinnova and Vertex Venture Capital, as well as prior round investors GIMV, Vertex Singapore and Siparex also took part in the financing round. Inside Contactless says it intends to use the new funds to expand its business in both contactless payments and mobile NFC (near field communication), and to drive the creation of a family of products for those markets. The firm will also add new members to its management team in a bid to expand the company's international sales.

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