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RFID News Roundup

Headwater announces Watchdog asset tracker; Web conferences on open-source RFID; Wi-Fi-based RFID expected to grow 100 percent annually; Swedish armed forces to deploy Savi's Consignment Management Solution; PDC settles IP suit against Proximities; Inova Technology acquires RFID company RightTag; SkyeTek expands European distribution network.
By Andrew Price
May 25, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of May 21.

Headwater Announces Watchdog Asset Tracker
Headwater Systems, a Minneapolis-based startup, has announced the release of its first RFID product, an asset-tracking platform called Watchdog Locating System. Watchdog employs 418 MHz active RFID tags and interrogators to enable users to locate mobile assets. The tags and readers communicate via a proprietary air-interface protocol, and the readers send tag data to proprietary software that identifies tags based on their unique ID numbers and determines their location. The platform utilizes signal strength to calculate the tag's distance from an individual interrogator, employing a set of algorithms to resolve the tag's location when it passes within the read range of two or more readers. Headwaters Systems CEO Alex Fjelstad says the product is available now, and that a few companies are currently piloting it to track valuable mobile assets. Fjelstad says the product is designed to be affordable for small and midsize firms, though he declines to reveal specific pricing.

Web Conferences on Open-Source RFID
The University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center and Pramari, a company developing open-source RFID software, are launching a series of Web-based conferences to discuss open-source software development in the RFID industry. The groups are offering the Web conferences in response to what they describe as overwhelming interest in a similar session they provided at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2007 conference in early May. The hour-long sessions will provide an overview of the history, benefits and uses of open-source software; a discussion about the creating an Open Source RFID Community to support the development of open-source RFID software; a roadmap for next steps; and a question-and-answer period. The first Web conference will take place on Wednesday, May 30, at 9 a.m. EDT, and will be repeated on Friday, June 1, at noon EDT. This schedule will repeat each Wednesday and Friday, at those same times, until Friday, June 29. The organizers says the Web conferences are designed for executives, managers and system architects and administrators working for RFID end users and potential end users, as well as RFID developers and business analysts. For more information, visit www.rifidi.org/about_webinars.html.

Wi-Fi-based RFID Expected to Grow 100 Percent Annually
A new market study predicts an annual growth rate of 100 percent for Wi-Fi-based RFID technology, through 2010. Conducted by market research firm In-Stat, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., the study estimates 135,000 Wi-Fi-based RFID tags were shipped in 2006. It also predicts that figure to continue growing as more businesses increase their Wi-Fi coverage. In-Stat senior analyst Daryl Schoolar says that while a growth rate of 100 percent may seem high, growth rates can be misleading because the current market is very small. Wi-Fi-based RFID is gaining traction in a variety of industries, particularly in the health-care, manufacturing and transportation and logistics markets, which are using it mainly for tracking assets. One inhibitor to the technology's growth, says Schoolar, has been short battery life, though advancements in technology are changing that. Chipmaker G2 Microsystems, for example, has made improvements to battery life, which can now extend beyond one year, he notes. Wi-Fi-based RFID tag costs haven't been much of an issue in adoption rates, says Schoolar, who expects the current average cost of $45 to come down in the next few years. The In-Stat study reports that AeroScout shipped the most Wi-Fi-based RFID tags in 2006. Other major players include RF Technologies and Newbury Networks. Last year, market research firm Frost & Sullivan estimated that over the next five years, the worldwide real-time locating systems (RTLS) market—which includes Wi-Fi-based RFID—will have a 30 percent compound annual growth rate, jumping from about $245 million in annual sales today to $1.26 billion by 2011 (see RTLS Market to Grow 30 Percent Annually). The other chief RFID-based RTLS technology uses active 2.4 GHz based on the ISO 24730 standard, a relatively new standard championed by WhereNet.

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