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RFID News Roundup

Alien unveils faster encoding scheme; ADT introduces new RFID mobile cart; Tyco Electronics introduces passive RFID stands with integrated readers and antennas; tagmakers roll out new UHF, HF inlays; Atmel launches LF RFID microchip; Fluensee offering asset-tracking startup kit; American RFID Solutions upgrades RF tool; IBM upgrades Premises Server.
By Andrew Price
Atmel Launches LF RFID Microchip
Atmel Corp. announced the availability of the ATA5577, a 330-bit read-write, low-frequency transponder microchip. The device is designed for extended read-write distance and has been optimized for access control applications for hotel rooms, engineering departments, offices, time-recording systems, parking lots and customer loyalty and membership cards. The chip complies with ISO 11784 and ISO 11785 (FDX-B) standards, making it suitable for animal identification, waste management and other applications. This low-frequency device is insensitive to rugged environments and can be used under conditions that normally hinder the performance of higher frequency RFID devices, such as water, metal, dirt and so on. It measures approximately 1.1 square millimeter, allowing it to be used in almost any transponder package including glass transponders for animal identification. The ATA5577 transponder microchip supports different modulations and encodings, and is designed for passive identification systems with a 100 to 150 kHz magnetic field. It is backward compatible with Atmel's T5551, T5557 and ATA5567 LF devices. Samples are available now as wafers or die in waffle packs. Pricing for wafer shipments with quantities of 15,000 pieces starts at 34 cents each.

Fluensee Offering Asset-Tracking Startup Kit
Fluensee, a provider of asset-tracking systems that leverage RFID and other technologies, has announced the AssetTrack Express start-up package, designed to help companies get an RFID-based asset tracking project up and running quickly. The package includes Fluensee's asset tracking software, which can function as Gen 2 middleware and uses the EPCglobal application level events protocol for collecting and filtering tag data. It also comes with a Symbol TechnologiesMC9090 handheld RFID reader and up to 250 passive Gen 2 RFID tags in a variety of form factors. The tags are provided by label converter Metalcraft, and are designed to be readable when mounted on RF-unfriendly assets, such as those made of metal. It also includes a set-up guide and support services. For an additional cost, Fluensee notes, the kit can be customized through the addition of a fixed-position reader or more RFID tags. The kit is available now and costs $10,000.

American RFID Solutions Upgrades RF Tool
American RFID Solutions, a provider of RFID tools and training, has updated its RFID testing instrument, the RF Shark Multi-Meter, which measures and evaluates read zone performance. The tool is designed to help an RFID system architect with installation and trouble-shooting an RFID read zone. The updated version of the tool, version 2.3, provides users a 3D graphic that plots the read zone coverage and can be used as a guide for making changes to a read zone. The system also includes a tool for optimizing the read zone for tags that may be attached to products made of materials that reflect or otherwise interfere with RF signals. The user can employ this optimization tool to determine the best location on a product for tag placement. This feature can help users determine if a read zone failure is due to poor RF coverage or tag location on the SKU. The online tutor course costs $149.00, and the RF Shark Multi-Meter Tool costs $1,995.00. American RFID Solutions has also recently developed an online RFID education tool, RFID IQ Certification Tutor, designed to ready people for RFID certification tests provided by either the International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA) or CompTIA. Users are assessed for their level of understanding of RFID topics, and training is customized to develop the students' knowledge. One hour of personal coaching, provided by an American RFID Solutions instructor, is also included.

IBM Upgrades Premises Server
IBM has announced a major upgrade to its WebSphere RFID Premises Server, a suite of software products designed to enable companies to easily access RFID and sensor data so they can pull it into such application software as an enterprise resource planning program or a billing system, to generate business logic. The upgrade, version 6.0, was designed to aggregate and analyze increasingly large quantities of data from RFID tags or other sensors, collected by various systems across the enterprise, including such remote locations as distribution centers or stores. With the new version, IBM is addressing end users' interest in leveraging the influx of RFID data they will generate when initiating item-level tagging applications. Companies that use device management software (or edgeware) made by other companies can pull RFID and sensor data into the Premises Server through integration software IBM is developing with those edgeware providers. These include OATSystems, which is already supporting this integration software. RFID hardware manufacturers Alien and Reva Systems have also announced support for the Websphere upgrade. According to IBM, a number of its customers are already utilizing Premises Server 6.0, including health-care distribution company AmerisourceBergen, which is using it as part of an electronic pedigree system and to improve its receiving and shipping operations. The upgraded software is available now, though pricing has not yet been announced.

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