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RFID News Roundup

NXP Semiconductors, Kestrel partnering on RFA; Paxar 9855 printer-encoder and Alien Higgs chip interoperable; CYBRA announces middleware upgrades; Sirit secures continued BATA contract; Gentag, Core Institute develop smart skin patches; InfoLogix ramps up its RFID offerings with acquisition.
By Andrew Price
May 18, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of May 14.

NXP Semiconductors, Kestrel Partner on RFA
NXP Semiconductors has announced its involvement with the Radio Frequency Activation (RFA) product authentication platform introduced last year by Kestrel Wireless (see RF Activation Seeks to Turn Off Theft). The system is designed to prevent the theft of DVDs and other types of optical media by using an RFID tag to disable the media until the point of sale. NXP says it plans to work with Emeryville, Calif.-based Kestrel to apply the RFA model to protect other products from counterfeiting as well. These include such consumer electronics products as MP3 players, electric shavers, toothbrushes, flat-screen TVs, ink-jet cartridges and flash memory. The NXP chips used for the platform are compliant with the EPC Gen 2 standard but also include additional memory to support the data encryption and optical switch that are part of the RFA platform.

Paxar 9855 Printer-Encoder and Alien Higgs Chip Certified as Interoperable
Paxar, a White Plains, N.Y., provider of RFID printer-encoders and label solutions, says its Monarch 9855 RFID Gen 2 EPC printer-encoder has been awarded a mark for interoperability with the Alien Technology Higgs EPC Gen 2 tag chip, after the two products were put through a battery of tests as per EPCglobal's interoperability test standard. In September 2006, the 9855 printer-encoder received the interoperability mark, but only for its ability to interoperate with tags containing the Impinj Monza Gen 2 chip. At that time, the Higgs chip had not been awarded a Gen 2 conformance mark signifying the chip's compliance with the Gen 2 standard. Conformance is a prerequisite to entry into interoperability testing, and EPCglobal requires that all individual products be tested for interoperability with other Gen 2-conformant products individually, rather than granting interoperability across product types. In other words, a reader is not guaranteed to be interoperable with all chips after being certified to interoperate with a Gen 2 chip from just one manufacturer.

CYBRA Announces Middleware Upgrades
CYBRA, which makes MarkMagic software for generating bar-code labels, RFID smart labels and electronic forms, says version 6 of its software is now shipping and available for download at the company's Web site. CYBRA says it has incorporated a host of new forms-management features, printer drivers and usability enhancements, including improved control of RFID field types and formatting to help customers comply with retail and government compliance specifications requiring the application of EPC Gen 2 RFID labels. The new software also includes an administration menu with new security and control. The MarkMagic software is available now and ranges in price from $3,595 to $13,095, depending on options selected.

Sirit Secures Continued BATA Contract
Toronto-based RFID hardware provider Sirit has secured a year-long contact with California's Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). The deal calls for Sirit to continue providing its active RFID transponders for automated toll collection to BATA, as it has done since 2004. The Title-21 active UHF tags mount on a vehicle's windshield and conform to the California Department of Transportation's electronic toll collection standard, Title-21. The contract is valued at up to US$4.8 million and commences in July 2007. Sirit also announced this week that it achieved consecutive record-setting quarterly revenue of CND$6.5 million (US$5.9 million) in Q1 2007, up 14 percent from the prior quarter's high of CND$5.7 million (US$5.2 million), and representing over 20 percent growth from the first quarter of 2006. The company says its net income for the quarter was CND$0.5 million (US$0.46 million), compared with a net loss of CND$2.1 million (US$1.9 million) in the fourth quarter of last year.

Gentag, Core Institute to Develop Smart Skin Patches
Gentag, an intellectual property (IP) development company in Washington, D.C., has joined together with the CORE Institute, an orthopedic services provider, to develop RFID-enabled diagnostic sensors. The plan is to embed temperature, pressure and other sensors into skin patches, enabling physicians to monitor damaged tissue after surgery using RFID-enabled cell phones, PDAs or laptops. The patches will allow patients to self-monitor recovery after surgery, from their homes. "The idea is to put into the hands a self-monitoring technology based on cell phones, RFID and sensors," says John Peeters, Gentag's founder and president. Gentag and CORE are basing the RFID skin patches on technology Gentag is developing to turn cell phones into universal RFID readers (see Gentag Foresees Cell Phones as Thermometers, Glucose Readers). Prototype skin patches are currently available; in the next few months, Peeters says, the partners expect to announce a manufacturer that will build the chips with integrated sensor components embedded in the patches.

InfoLogix Ramps Up Its RFID Offerings With Acquisition
Mobile solutions provider InfoLogix has acquired the health-care mobility services and RFID business of AMTSystems, a maker of RFID, bar code and other automatic-identification technologies for a variety of sectors. Financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed. The acquisition covers AMTSystems' existing relationships with customers, vendors and partners, as well as the intellectual property rights behind AMTSystems' clinical and financial mobility products for health care. This includes the company's Surgichip, a patent-pending RFID-enabled label used on surgical patients and designed to ensure the correct surgery is performed on the proper site and the right patient. Started in 2001 with about $350,000, InfoLogix finished 2006 with approximately $60 million in revenues, according to David Gulian, the firm's CEO. InfoLogix provides products and services leveraging wireless and RFID technology to help businesses manage workflow, improve processes and so forth. The company is focusing its RFID efforts on passive 13.56 MHz RFID and active Wi-Fi-based RFID. The AMTSystems acquisition "rounds out" InfoLogix' RFID capabilities, but Gulian says InfoLogix will offer much more. "RFID is just one piece of the puzzle, and that is where I think we are differentiating ourselves," he says. "The RFID tag technology will become a commodity. It is what you wrap around it that will become the value proposition."
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