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RFID News Roundup

Ingram Micro to distribute Impinj reader; BlueStar distributing Capton's RFID bartending product; Austrian University holding NFC event; epcSolutions upgrades middleware; PayPass payments the new scoop at Braum's; JCB and Visa to share RFID Payment spec.
By Andrew Price
Feb 23, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of Feb. 19.

Ingram Micro to Distribute Impinj Reader
UHF Gen 2 RFID chip and reader supplier Impinj has signed an agreement with technology distributor Ingram Micro to distribute Impinj's Speedway UHF Gen 2 RFID reader to value-added resellers serving North America. This arrangement is being facilitated by Ingram Micro's Data Capture/POS Division, a distributor of automatic-identification data capture (AIDC), RFID, point-of-sale (POS) and mobile-computing products. According to Impinj, the Speedway interrogator uses a monostatic antenna design intended to reduce ownership costs and complexity as compared with other reader solutions. EPCglobal has certified the Speedway as being compliant with its Gen 2 standard, and has also awarded it Gen 2 Interoperability Certification, indicating it can be successfully deployed to read Gen 2-compliant tags from a variety of tag makers, or used as part of a network of other Gen 2 readers.

BlueStar Distributing Capton's RFID Bartending Product
BlueStar, a distributor of point-of-sale, hospitality, RFID and other auto-ID products, is now distributing the Capton line of RFID products to resellers in the hospitality industry in the United States and Canada, with plans for Latin America in the near future. Capton's Beverage Tracker solution uses RFID-enabled pour spouts to monitor how much liquor bartenders pour over the course of a shift. The tags, embedded in the spouts, send this data to Beverage Tracker software, which managers use to ensure liquor sales match consumption levels (see Vegas Hotel-Casino Uses Tags to Keep Tabs on Liquor). VARs may now purchase Capton's RFID Hospitality products from BlueStar by contacting their BlueStar account manager, or by logging on to www.bluestarinc.com.

Austrian University Holding NFC Event
The Upper Austria University of Applied Science is holding an NFC (near-field communications) Applications Conference on March 20 at its Hagenberg, Austria, campus. NFC is a short-range, high frequency (HF) RFID protocol utilized in such applications as transmitting information securely from an NFC-enabled cell phone to another NFC-enabled device, or making electronic payments. During the event, attendees will hear from speakers representing NXP Semiconductors, which makes NFC chips; handset maker Nokia; and other firms. Attendees will also learn about an NFC technology trial underway at the university. In the trial, the university—in partnership with mobile telecommunications operator Mobilkom Austria and the IT subsidiary of steelmaker Voestalpine—-is testing NFC-enabled electronic access and micro-payment systems, as well as peer-to-peer network services (see Austrian University Begins NFC Trial).

epcSolutions Upgrades Middleware
epcSolutions, a Great Falls, Va.-based RFID systems integrator, has announced the release of version 3.5 of its RFID software, RFIDTagManager, which incorporates tools for end users to comply with the U.S. Department of Defense's RFID tagging mandate, as well as its Unique Identification (UID) requirements for high-value assets. The new software generates a combined RFID/UID WAWF remittance and material-handling document, as well as a hard-copy generation of the DD250. The software upgrade also includes a new software development kit enabling end users to link RFIDTagManager to external programs, print tags and retrieve tag read reports. It also comes with a new security tool. RFIDTagManager 3.5 is available immediately. Pricing information has not yet been released.

PayPass Payments the New Scoop at Braum's
Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Stores has announced that all 276 of its stores, located in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri, now accept MasterCard's RFID-enabled PayPass debit and credit cards. Customers presenting PayPass cards to RFID payment terminals do not have to sign receipts for purchases under $25, which enables an easy transaction that takes less time than using cash or a traditional magnetic-stripe card, both of which Braum's will continue to accept. Braum's says it decided to begin accepting PayPass to offer its customers a fast, easy and convenient shopping experience.

JCB and Visa to Share RFID Payment Spec
International credit card organizations JCB and Visa have agreed to share Visa Asia Pacific's specification for RFID-enabled payments, making if possible for consumers to use JCB's RFID-enabled payment cards at merchant locations outside Japan, provided those merchant payment terminals accept Visa's RFID contactless cards. This should ease investment costs for merchants, since they will not need to purchase separate RFID readers to process the cards. Visa Asia Pacific's spec for RFID-enabled payments allows the use of RFID contact cards combining RFID technology—for transmitting payment data over RF with an RFID-enabled payment terminal—and EMV, a payment protocol used in Europe and Asia. JCB first announced its plans to launch an RFID payment system in March of last year, then launched a payment trial in June (see JCB to Run RFID Payment Trial in Amsterdam).
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