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RFID News Roundup

New U.S. ID for border crossing to use RFID; Click and Vue partnering on RFID warehouse solution; GENCO, KeyTone Technologies to offer RFID training; William Frick & Co., Stratum Global combine products, services; PanGo, ePlus offer asset tracking for health care.
By Andrew Price
Jan 20, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of Jan. 16.

New U.S. ID for Border Crossing to Use RFID
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced plans this week to introduce an RFID-enabled ID card that would be used by U.S. citizens who regularly cross the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders. The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin issuing this card, the People Access Security Service (PASS) card, starting in late 2006. According to a DHS spokesperson, however, the PASS program is still being developed and the card's RFID specifications (frequency, air-interface protocol and so forth), have not yet been determined. Also undetermined is exactly what information will be encoded to the card's chip. U.S. citizens in border communities who frequently cross the borders would use the card in compliance with the land-border crossing requirements of the statutory Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. This directive goes into effect on Dec. 31, 2007, and will mandate that anyone crossing a land border with the United States, including U.S. citizens, must present secure travel documents denoting citizenship and serving as proof of identity. Because the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative does not require the use of a passport, the PASS card will serve as an alternative to the traditional passport book. In August, the DHS began testing RFID tags embedded in I-94A forms. The department issues such forms to visitors who have nonimmigrant visas, are under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or are Mexican Border Crossing Card holders planning stays longer than 30 days and/or traveling outside the border area. The RFID tags will be used to record border entries and exits automatically (see DHS Testing Tags for US-VISIT Program). These tests are taking place at five entry ports along the borders of Canada or Mexico and will continue into the spring. At that time, an evaluation will be conducted to determine the test results and whether or not the pilot will be expanded to other sites.

Click and Vue Partnering on RFID Warehouse Solution
Click Commerce, a provider of warehouse and supply chain management software, is partnering with Vue Technology to offer an end-to-end, RFID-enabled solution. Vue develops RFID interrogation systems that enable single interrogators to support hundreds of antennas, and also provides software to manage the readers and generate and manage electronic Product Codes (EPCs). The combined offering includes the Click Intelligent Supply Chain platform, comprised of Click's warehouse management system and its supply chain execution software, as well as Vue Technologies' RFID software, which provides a method of configuring RFID interrogators to support a large number of off-the-shelf or customized antennas. This reportedly expands each reader's tag interrogation zone. Also included in the combined offering are Vue software products for managing interrogators and linking RFID data to the warehouse management system. Initially, Vue's RFID integrator technology was designed to enable retailers to read tags attached to products placed on smart shelves on the store floors. This application would extend that capability to identify cases of tagged goods in warehouses and distribution centers, as well. Click Commerce says the combined offering is available now, and that it and Vue are in the early stages of technology trials to test it. Pricing information has not yet been released.

Alien Technology, SmartCode, Offering Trade-In Deals
Morgan Hill, Calif.-based RFID systems provider Alien Technology has launched a three-month promotion enabling customers who purchase 100,000 Alien RFID Squiggle tags before or on March 3 to receive a free Alien ALR-9780 RFID interrogator. Each additional 100,000-tag purchase entitles the customer to another free ALR-9780. The offer includes specially priced packages. For $2,500, the company is offering the ALR-9780 developer's kit, an Alien Academy RFID training course and technical support. For $4,000, the same kit is available with an ALR-9800 developer's kit instead of the ALR-9780 version. In addition, any customer trading in a non-Alien UHF RFID reader is entitled to a $500 credit toward the purchase of a new Alien ALR-9780 or ALR-9800. More details on the offers are available here. New York-based SmartCode, meanwhile, says it is expanding its Gen 2 Quickstart program (see SmartCode Announces 7.5-cent Gen 2 Inlay to include a trade-in offer. Under the program, customers who order a new Gen 2-compliant interrogator from SmartCode will receive a $500 discount by trading in any older, non-SmartCode, EPC Gen 1 UHF readers. The trade-in offer is available until the end of April.

GENCO, KeyTone Technologies to Offer RFID Training
Pittsburgh-based third-party logistics and supply chain management provider GENCO has formed an alliance with KeyTone Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif., firm that offers integration services for RFID and other auto-ID technologies. Under the alliance, the companies will provide a hands-on RFID training program called "RFIDApplied2U". Initially, the program includes two courses: "RFID for Managers," a two-day, $3,500 course providing basic training in the technology and how it impacts business processes and IT; and "RFID Operations and Project Management," a two-day $4,500 course covering RFID basics, as well as how to deploy (execute and manage) the technology. All courses will be held in a 9,000-square-foot training facility in Pittsburgh, including an RFID-enabled warehouse with conveyors, forklifts, dock doors, storage shelves, RFID printers, UHF and HF readers, real-time location systems (RTLS) systems, mobile devices and a variety of different RFID middleware and applications operating in a realistic supply chain environment. This will allow instructors to demonstrate various industry solutions. The first classes begin Feb. 7, with two more courses—"RFID Application Development and Integration" and "RFID Networking & Troubleshooting,"—scheduled to be offered later in 2006.

William Frick & Co., Stratum Global Combine Products, Services
William Frick & Co., a Libertyville, Ill., firm that manufactures SmartMark RFID tags encased in molded plastic, as well as traditional custom synthetic and paper RFID label solutions, is partnering with Stratum Global, an RFID applications solutions provider and systems integrator that sells the TagNet RFID middleware and warehouse management system (WMS) integration platform. The firms will combine their offerings and help end users deploy RFID systems utilizing both William Frick & Co. tags and Stratum's software and integration services. The partners say their products can be used to help other companies comply with RFID tagging mandates, as well as deploy asset management, access control, attendance monitoring and other applications.

PanGo, ePlus Offer Asset Tracking for Health Care
EPlus Technology, an IT service firm based in Herndon, Va., says it has entered into an agreement with real-time location systems (RTLS) provider PanGo, based in Framingham, Mass. Under this agreement, the new partners will provide RFID PanGo's Locator solution, which uses Wi-Fi-based RFID devices to track assets, to users in the health-care industry. EPlus Technology says its focus on integrated health-care solutions and its expertise with Cisco Systems' wireless local area network (WLAN) technology provide an ideal approach to support PanGo's asset tracking solution. EPlus Technology's team of engineers, who have Cisco certifications in network management, routing and switching, VPN security, WLAN and IP communication, can help deploy the PanGo system in health-care facilities to track in real-time the location of medical equipment—such as wheelchairs, infusion pumps, beds and other clinical assets–to assist nurses and medical professionals, improve patient care, reduce capital and lower operating expenses.
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