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RFID News Roundup

Omron launches international Gen 2 tag; U.S. Army active RFID spending may surpass $400 million; Alliance invests in Goliath Solutions; Loftware upgrades RFID support; BlueBean selling RFID startup kits; SAP green-lights iMotion integration; Ingram Micro's Nimax to distribute Stratum's TagNet.
By Andrew Price
Feb 17, 2006The following are news announcements made during the week of Feb. 13.

Omron Launches International Gen 2 Tag
Omron RFID has announced the release of a new passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tag designed to deliver high performance whether encoded and read in the United States, Europe or Asia. Regulatory agencies within each of these regions mandate the use of different parts of the UHF band (Japan, for example, says UHF tags must transmit between 950 MHz to 956 MHz, while the European Union has specified the 865.6 MHz to 867.6 MHz range). Some manufacturers address these spectrum variances by tuning the tag to function best in specific parts of the spectrum. For its OneTenna tag, for example, Finnish tag maker UPM Raflatac places the RFID chip at one of three different locations on the antenna, depending on which part of the UHF spectrum it will be used in (see Rafsec Set to Produce Gen 2 Inlays). According to Bill Arnold, Omron RFID's chief strategist, the company's new V750 Series EPC Gen 2 UHF Wave tag functions equally well in all parts of the UHF band, thanks to a design that "matches the impedance of the chip to that of the antenna." The tag uses an Impinj Gen 2 chip. Arnold says an end user is currently testing the Wave tag on shipments tagged in Asia and delivered to the United States, but did not disclose further details. According to Omron RFID, the Gen 2 Wave tag will be available in production quantities next month. Pricing information has not yet been released.

U.S. Army Active RFID Spending May Surpass $400 Million
In order to continue supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom with RFID tracking systems, the U.S. Department of Defense says it is increasing its spending ceiling on active RFID goods and services purchased through its RFID II procurement contract with Savi Technology, located in Sunnyvale, Calif. The increase will raise the spending limit from $207.9 million to $424.5 million, Savi reports. The company adds that the DOD is also extending the contract period by two years, to Jan. 31, 2008. Savi says the contract amendments were made by the U.S. Army's Information Technology, E-Commerce and Commercial Contracting Center (ITEC4), part of the Army Contracting Agency, and that with these extensions in place, the Army's deal with Savi could constitute the largest of any RFID contact to date.

Alliance Invests in Goliath Solutions
Alliance, a division of Rock-Tenn and a producer of in-store promotional displays for retail environments, says it has made a financial investment in Goliath Solutions. Located in Deerfield, Ill., Goliath offers an RFID-based system for tracking the use and effectiveness of in-store product displays. Late last year, Goliath entered into a multiyear agreement to install its system at more than 5,000 Walgreens stores (see Walgreen to Use Tagged Displays). Alliance manufacturers some, though not all, of the displays Goliath is tracking at the stores. Jim Einstein, Alliance executive vice president and general manager, says his firm's investment in Goliath "puts Alliance in a leadership role in helping our customers [consumer packaged goods manufacturers] get more information on the effectiveness of promotional displays." Goliath will use the Alliance funding to enhance its research and development efforts. In related news, Larry Shutzberg, vice president and chief information officer of Rock-Tenn, has joined Goliath's board of advisors to help grow Goliath's business and technology strategies.

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