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RFID News Roundup

EPCglobal awards certification to MTI’s Gen 2 reader; Brooks Automation announces new HF reader; Cognio teams with Meritech, upgrades Spectrum Tool; PanGo, Versus partnering on health-care applications; Wells Fargo begins issuing Visa Contactless cards.
By Andrew Price
Aug 25, 2006The following are news announcements made during the week of August 21.

EPCglobal Awards Certification to MTI’s Gen 2 Reader
Microelectronics Technology Inc. (MTI), a Taiwanese firm that manufactures microwave radios, mobile base-station components and broadband wireless-access products, says RFID standards group EPCglobal has certified the company's UHF EPC Gen 2 interrogator, the MRD-E42 (RU-813), for conformance to the Gen 2 air interface standard. MTI designs and manufactures the MRD-E42 (RU-813) as an original design manufacturer (ODM), selling the interrogator to resellers and companies that then repackage the device and sell it to end users. The EPCglobal certification signifies the interrogator has been tested and should operate according to EPCglobal's Gen 2 standard. According to MTI, it is the first vender in Asia to receive the EPCglobal certification.

Brooks Automation Announces New HF Reader
Brooks Automation's RFID division has announced a new HF (13.56 MHz) interrogator designed for applications requiring read ranges of up to 4 feet (typical HF tags cannot be read from more than 3 feet). The division is a Germany-based subsidiary of U.S.-based Brooks Automation. Brooks' new HF70 series interrogator can read tags compatible with the ISO 15693 standard, such as those made with Texas Instruments' Tag-it and Phillips' I-code inlays. It contains a multiplexer that allows it to support up to four antennas, which can be tuned individually. In addition, the interrogator features input and output ports able to support sensors that can be used to excite the interrogator. These sensors can also support indicators, such as light trees or LED displays, to provide read confirmations. The reader is currently available.

Cognio Teams With Meritech, Upgrades Spectrum Tool
Cognio, a provider of RF spectrum analysis tools, has announced a partnership with Meritech, a software company that helps companies deploy wireless networks. Meritech and Cognio have teamed to provide an RFID site-survey tool capable of mapping RFID reader coverage and improving network performance. Meritech will integrate the Cognio UHF RFID Cardbus module into its iSite software application for designing wireless systems and plotting the coverage footprint of radio signals. The new site survey tool is designed to reduce interference and eliminates RF dead zones between RFID readers, improving readability for tag detection and tag performance. The Cognio-Meritech offering shows a plot as a floor-plan overlay, and includes information about signal strength, interference and coverage overlap. The plot is then used to identify and fix problem areas. The RFID site-survey tool also provides prediction capabilities allowing network adjustments to be evaluated before they are applied. Separately, Cognio says it has updated its Spectrum Expert tool, used for troubleshooting and eliminating interference of Wi-Fi or RFID communication from physical-layer devices. The updated tool offers a single view of a facility's RF transmitting devices, which alerts managers of interference problems and the precise cause of the interference.

PanGo, Versus Partnering on Health-care Applications
PanGo Networks, a provider of RFID-based asset tracking applications for health-care facilities, is partnering with Versus Technology to deliver location-enabled clinical-automation and asset-tracking solutions. The companies' combined offerings use Wi-Fi, active and passive RFID tags, and infrared (IR) technologies. These devices are intended to help hospital staff determine the precise location of personnel, patients and equipment so they can use this information for business-process improvements. Hospitals will be able to use a single interface that combines location data from Versus' tags, which contain both RFID and IR sensors, with Versus' software for managing patient flow and PanGo's PanOS location-management platform.

Wells Fargo Begins Issuing Visa Contactless cards
Wells Fargo says it is distributing RFID-enabled (contactless) cards to select customers as a replacement for their expired Wells Fargo Visa Platinum and Wells Fargo Visa Signature credit cards. The company expects to distribute 400,000 such cards, which carry an ISO 14443-compliant inlay provided by tag maker Inside Contactless, by the end of 2006. Customers can also request their current cards be upgraded to include the contactless feature; card account numbers will remain the same regardless of the contactless upgrade. Customers opening new credit card accounts will be able to request the feature later this year. Visa says 4.5 million of its cards are currently RFID-enabled, and accepted at more than 30,000 merchant locations. Wells Fargo is the first bank on the U.S. West Coast to issue RFID-enabled cards.
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