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RFID News Roundup

AeroScout partnering on tracking system for mines; Innovision announces NFC platform; RFID4U, ODIN offering training in D.C. area; Ipico tags cross finish line in increasing numbers; RFID-enabled mouse and pad for European users; Navigational Sciences licenses DOE's RFID technology; SkyeTek HF/UHF development kit; Royal Bank of Scotland testing RFID payment cards.
RFID-enabled Mouse and Pad for European Users
Macally Peripherals, an Irwindale, Calif., manufacturer of computer peripherals, has entered into a partnership it hopes will see its RFID-enabled mouse pad and PC mouse sold in Europe. Michael Letterer will help Macally market the mouse and mouse pad to European businesses, resellers and consumers. Both products have built-in RFID interrogators operating at 13.56 MHz, able to read tags compatible with ISO 14443A, Philips Mifare, Sony Felica and NFC standards. The peripherals provide a way for people to use RFID cards to identify themselves and log on a PC. According to Macally, adding RFID to the computer log-on process provides an authentication check during log-on, eliminating the need to enter names and passwords to access secure Web sites. This process can also help prevent spyware from stealing personal information during the log-on process.

Navigational Sciences Licenses DOE's RFID Technology
Navigational Sciences, an asset-tracking service provider based in Charleston, S.C., has signed a license agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The agreement includes nine patents related to several advanced communications methods developed at the lab, including one called hybrid spread spectrum (HSS). According to Navigational Science's vice president of product development, Scott Blair, HSS combines three radio frequency transmission techniques—frequency hopping, time sequencing and direct-sequence spread spectrum—to create a waveform inherently resistant to multipath interference and RF null spots. The company is using HSS to create a 2.45 GHz active RFID tracking system for track and trace applications in the transportation and logistic industry, specifically for tracking shipping containers and other mobile assets. The technology will be marketed under the Wave Additive Radio Processing (WARP) brand. Navigational Sciences says tags and readers using the licensed technology will be available during the first quarter of 2007. The firm's current WARP RFID tracking systems use technology developed in-house at Navigational Sciences, but are less robust and secure than the technology being licensed by ORNL.

SkyeTek HF/UHF Development Kit
SkyeTek, a Boulder, Colo., designer of RFID modules, has announced the release of its Item-Level Developer Kit. This kit enables developers of RFID solutions to create either high-frequency (HF) or ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) products that use stationary or mobile RFID interrogators for inventory management applications. The kit utilizes SkyeTek's Common Blade UHF/HF RFID reader modules, comprised of the M2 HF SkyeModule and M9 UHF SkyeModule. These devices share a common software, mechanical and electrical interface that allows RFID system developers to create a single, frequency-agnostic, item-level application. The HF/UHF decision can be made either during deployment or post-deployment, as one module could be replaced by the other in the field due to their identical form factors and software/hardware interfaces. The interrogator modules could also use the same applications for data encryption, general-purpose input/output ports (for controlling external sensors or controllers), and antenna control. The M2, M9 and Item-Level Developer Kit can be ordered now. SkyeTek will begin shipping them in July.

Royal Bank of Scotland Testing RFID Payment Cards
About 1,000 employees of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) began testing an RFID-enabled payment card this week at the bank's Edinburgh headquarters, making purchases at eight merchant locations, including Starbucks and Tesco Express. RBS is partnering with http://www.mastercardinternational.com/ MasterCard, whose ISO 14443-compliant PayPass RFID payment devices are now in use throughout the United States, to deploy the pilot test. The cards include a contact-based Maestro chip for debit transactions, so testers can use the cards at any retailer accepting Maestro. The PayPass function can be used to pay for goods only at the merchants' participating in the trial, and only for transactions totaling £10 ($18.28) or less. The pilot will run until the end of the year.

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