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EPC Connection Product Roundup

Impinj announces high-octane firmware; Intel-powered RFID readers emerging; Adasa's hands-free RFID tag creation and application; HP announces solution to link BizTalk with SAP's Auto-ID Infrastructure; RFID device makers leverage open source to interface with IBM; RSI ID Technologies unveils tamper-evident RFID tag.
Oct 05, 2007Product announcements made at this week's EPC Connection 2007 conference in Chicago highlight a movement toward enabling integration between EPC Gen 2 hardware, tag data and end users' back-end systems. Hewlett Packard (HP) is easing the exchange of EPC data between edgeware and middleware. Eight reader makers are using open-source software to link their devices to IBM middleware, including Alien Technology, which also unveiled two tags, a pair of interrogators and a portal (see Alien Adds Five Products to Gen 2 Portfolio). Meanwhile, reader and chipmaker Impinj has released firmware designed to make its Speedway interrogator plug-and-play-friendly, while offering a special tool to detect a tag's direction of travel.

Impinj Announces High-Octane Firmware
Impinj has announced the release of its Octane 3.0 firmware for the company's Speedway RFID Gen 2 reader. The firmware supports the low-level reader protocol (LLRP), an EPCglobal software standard interface between RFID readers and middleware for collecting and managing RFID data. Impinj says its has verified the reader's ability to connect to middleware from GlobeRanger, IBM, KeyTone Technologies, Microsoft, OATSystems, Omnitrol Networks and Reva Systems, using the LLRP standard and other drivers required by those middleware platforms. The firmware incorporates tools for setting up the Speedway reader configuration, and for collecting and accessing tag data using the EPC Gen 2 air-interface specification. Octane 3.0 also enables a reader to send directionality signals to middleware, so users know not only which tags the interrogator has read, but also the direction in which tagged products are moving. Users can exploit this functionality to determine whether goods are moving into a warehouse, or leaving it. Octane 3.0 comes standard with new Speedway readers, while existing Speedway customers will be able to download the firmware upgrade at no additional cost.

Intel-Powered RFID Readers Emerging
ThingMagic has introduced the Mercury5E-Compact RFID interrogator module. At half the size of the Mercury5E, the module was developed for reader manufacturers interested in embedding a small-footprint interrogator into mobile devices such as handheld or wearable computers, or into RFID printer-encoders. The Mercury5E-Compact utilizes Intel's RFID Transceiver R1000 chip, which combines multiple components into an integrated RFID circuit, enabling digital signal processing and analog data processing on the same chip (see Intel Announces UHF Reader Radio Chip). This allows for the manufacturing of RFID interrogators modules that are smaller than those made with discrete reader components on many chips. According to Intel, Applied Wireless ID (AWID), Alien, CAEN, Deister Electronic, Kenetics Group and Samsung have also developed interrogators using the R1000 chip.

Adasa's Hands-Free RFID Tag Creation and Application
RFID provider Adasa has teamed with LXE, a maker of wireless products including mobile computers and auto-identification technologies, to offer a mobile solution enabling companies to more easily create and affix RFID tags during operations, such as in picking and packing processes. The ItemSight Mobile solution includes Adasa's InSight Mobile software, which converts an item's GTIN-14 bar-code number into a serialized EPC that is then encoded into an EPC Gen 2 RFID tag. The system, worn on a user's wrist, includes a bar-code scanner that attaches to the finger. InSight Mobile converts the bar code to an EPC number, and an RFID printer-encoder worn at the waist prints the number onto an RFID label, encoding the number to the label's tag. The hands-free system is designed to reduce the time required to create and affix RFID tags. "There is a lot of cost to the labor of applying RFID tags," says Clarke McAllister, president of Adasa. "We designed this to make that manual process much more efficient."

HP Announces Solution to Link BizTalk With SAP's Auto-ID Infrastructure
HP has announced Connector Solution, a software product that links Microsoft's BizTalk Server 2006 R2 with SAP's Auto-ID Infrastructure middleware. Connector Solution is designed to let companies' leverage RFID messages and events in their SAP applications, without having to write custom code. "We want companies to get business value from technology," says Frank Lanza, HP's worldwide director of RFID. The tool formats RFID events from BizTalk Server to make them compatible with SAP's Auto-ID Infrastructure, which enables SAP applications to leverage RFID data. HP worked closely with Microsoft and SAP to develop the tool, which will be certified as interoperable with SAP's product. HP began working on Connector Solution in May, Lanza says, developing a prototype tool in about eight weeks. HP engineers are now coding the tool, which is expected to be commercially available to HP customers by year's end.

RFID Device Makers Leverage Open Source to Interface With IBM
Eight RFID device manufacturers have agreed to implement the Eclipse open-source device model to interface their RFID interrogators and label printer-encoders with IBM's WebSphere RFID Premises Server 6.0. Originally developed by IBM, and now overseen by the not-for-profit Eclipse Foundation, Eclipse is an open development platform comprised of extensible frameworks, tools and runtimes for building, deploying and managing software. The vendors include Alien Technology, Arcom, Feig Electronic, Intermec, Motorola, Reva Systems, Sirit and Tagsys. These eight companies have been approved through the IBM WebSphere RFID Device validation program, which helps device manufacturers ensure interoperability with IBM's WebSphere Premises Server. In addition, embedded systems integrators Apogee Software and MicroDoc have undergone training and are now ready to help RFID equipment manufacturers build device adapters or intelligent reader controller platforms using the Eclipse device toolkit. This will ensure the products are compatible with IBM WebSphere's RFID data capture functions.

RSI ID Technologies Unveils Tamper-Evident RFID Tag
RSI ID Technologies (RSI), a manufacturer of RFID antennas, inlays and tags and also a systems integrator, has announced a family of tags featuring special components and properties that provide physical proof a tag has been tampered with. Located in Chula Vista, Calif., RSI ID reports that the tamper-evident tags are suitable for tracking sensitive goods, product authentication and vehicle registration. The first tag in the group is designed to come apart if someone attempts to remove it. The destructible label appears to be (and is programmed as) a standard RFID tag, and also includes security features that, when removed, leave a residual adhesive or image identifying the tampering. RSI ID makes a variety of high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID labels able to leverage this tamper-evident technology. The tamper-evident tags are available now; pricing depends on the tag frequency, type and quantity.
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