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RFID News Roundup

FileTrail offering kit for small, midsize businesses; rug maker expands RFID deployment with ODIN; Taco Bell testing PayPass, Banamex issuing it in Latin America; ProAction HF and Academia RFID join forces; Web startup selling pre-encoded tags; MetraTec rolls out multiplexers.
By Andrew Price
Mar 16, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of March 12.

FileTrail Offering Kit for Small, Medium Businesses
FileTrail, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID technology for tracking paper files, has announced a bundled hardware and software offering for small and midsize businesses, particularly law firms. This package includes a handheld RFID interrogator that comes in a PDA form factor with a touch screen and was contract-manufactured for FileTrail. It also incorporates a fixed-position RFID interrogator designed for commissioning tags and assigning them to files, another reader built for use in setting up a chokepoint for reading tagged files as they are brought into or out of a file storage area, and 5,000 file labels containing RFID inlays embedded with Impinj's Monza EPC Gen 2 chip. Companies purchasing the kit receive on-site staff training on how to use the system and the FileTrail software, which runs on both the customer's backend server and the handheld reader. FileTrail decided to offer the kit as a means of enabling small and midsize businesses to start using RFID for tracking files. Large law firms have spent as much as $250,000 for an extensive FileTrail deployment (see Maryland Court Tries UHF RFID File-Tracking System). The bundled kit costs a fraction of that amount—$25,000—and is available now.

Rug Maker Expands RFID Deployment With ODIN
Carpet and rug supplier Shaw Industries Group is in the process of expanding its RFID pilot from three of its distribution centers to a total of 40 such centers, according to its RFID systems integrator, ODIN Technologies. Shaw began its initial pilot with ODIN in the fall (see Shaw Rolls Out RFID Applications to Track Carpet), and found that using RFID can improve its supply chain visibility. ODIN says Shaw will continue to use its services and Easy Reader RFID software now that the pilot has concluded. Shaw, a supplier to Wal-Mart, notes that its initial interest was in meeting the retailer's RFID tagging mandate by applying RFID tags to shipments headed to Wal-Mart's RFID-enabled stores and distribution centers. However, the firm has also tested the use of RFID for tracking the bill of lading issued to truck drivers transporting products to regional distribution centers, a system it has decided to expand to the 37 additional distribution centers as well.

Taco Bell Testing PayPass, Banamex Issuing it in Latin America
Fast-food chain Taco Bell has announced plans to test MasterCard's RFID-enabled payment system, PayPass, with the intention of equipping all 1,300 of its company-owned restaurants in the United States to begin accepting PayPass payments. The chain will accept PayPass at both its dine-in and drive-through locations. In the fourth quarter of this year, 100 Taco Bell locations will begin processing MasterCard PayPass payments, and if the technology proves successful, the company plans to expand acceptance to the rest of its U.S. locations in 2008. Taco Bell says it is interested in PayPass because the technology promises to decrease transaction times and make customer visits more convenient. The restaurant chain says it will test the RFID-enabled payment terminals needed to process RFID cards at both its in-store counters and its drive-through lanes. Additionally, Mexican bank Banamex, a member of the Citibank family of banks, has begun issuing the first PayPass cards in Latin America, starting with 10,000 cards sent to MasterCard cardholders in the Mexican city of Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo Leon. Thirty McDonald's restaurants in Monterrey are installing VeriFone's MX870 payment terminal with an integrated RFID reader so they can begin processing PayPass payments as well.

ProAction HF and Academia RFID Join Forces
ProAction HR, a recruitment and placement agency in Montreal that places IT and RFID professionals, has partnered with Montreal-based RFID educational organization Academia RFID to find and place certified RFID professionals coming out of Academia RFID programs. ProAction senior partner André Lacaille explains that offering ProAction's recruitment and placement services to Academia RFID participants looking to further their career feels like a natural fit. Anthony Palermo, Academia's director of sales and administration, says that by incorporating job-finding assistance with RFID Academia's RFID training, including certification testing for the CompTIA RFID+ program, the organizations can expand on the benefits it offers professionals seeking RFID training. Academia RFID began offering RFID training across Canada this winter (see Academic RFID Offering RFID Training Across Canada).

Web Startup Selling Pre-Encoded Tags
Tag Your Stuff, a new Web-based passive RFID tag supplier based in Lancaster, Penn., has begun offering pre-encoded EPC Gen 2 inlays. It currently sells Alien Technology's Squiggle EPC Gen 2 inlay, embedded in a 4- by 2-inch or 4- by 6-inch label, and Avery Dennison's AD220 EPC Gen 2 inlay, also embedded in either a 4- by 2-inch or 4- by 6-inch label. Customers can request that Tag Your Stuff send the inlays pre-encoded with a specific EPC, based on data they provide, and printed with appropriate text. This service is designed specifically for companies that must comply with tagging mandates such as those of Wal-Mart or the Department of Defense. The inlays can also be purchased for home or office applications, for which customers can request custom encoding. The RFID-enabled labels cost $6.50 (for 4 x 2) or $6.80 (for 4 x 6) each, plus shipping costs.

MetraTec Rolls Out Multiplexers
German RFID hardware provider MetraTec RFID Solutions has announced a family of RFID multiplexers available with four, eight or 16 antenna ports for HF and UHF applications. The multiplexers are designed to enable users of RFID tagging systems to expand the read zones of RFID readers by increasing the number of antennas each supports. With its products, end users can build up to 16 antennas into a shelving system and link them into single readers. All of the multiplexers are available today, the company says. According to MetraTec, it is distributing the multiplexers through Meshed Systems, a German value-added reseller (VAR) for MetraTec since October of 2006. MetraTec also sells HF and UHF reader antennas.
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