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RFID News Roundup

FTC to hold public forum on RFID-enabled payment devices; Fujitsu launches UHF garment tags for North American, European and Chinese markets; Weber Marking Systems' new RFID label printer-applicator; GHX Mobile Solutions updates RFID-enabled inventory tool; RFID verifies collectibles for Texas Sports Hall of Fame; Motorola, Y3 Technologies to develop RFID solutions for YCH Group.
May 15, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

FTC to Hold Public Forum on RFID-Enabled Payment Devices
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Technology Law and Public Policy clinic at the University of Washington School of Law are hosting a public forum to examine RFID-enabled smart cards, key fobs, mobile phones and other contactless payment devices. Entitled "Pay on the Go: Consumers and Contactless Payment," the meeting is slated for July 24 at the Seattle-based law school. This forum will explore the extent to which contactless devices and the requisite RFID interrogators are being deployed in the United States and abroad, along with any potential benefits and risks to consumers who use them. Topics at the forum will include an overview of various contactless payment devices; consumers' understanding of the capabilities and potential risks; the need for further consumer education; security and privacy threats, along with proposed solutions; and emerging practices and technologies that may shape the contactless payment marketplace over the coming years. Additional information about the meeting can be found here. The FTC is inviting interested parties to submit a request to serve as a panelist. Such submissions should be sent via e-mail by June 6 to payonthego@ftc.gov, and should include a statement detailing expertise on the issues. Interested parties may also submit suggested topics, comments and original research until June 20. No preregistration is required for attendance. Members of the public who wish to participate but are unable to attend can view a live webcast on the FTC's Web site.

Fujitsu Launches UHF Garment Tags for North American, European and Chinese Markets
Computer and communications maker Fujitsu and Fujitsu Frontech, part of the Fujitsu group and a manufacturer of ATMs and point-of-sales (POS) terminals, has announced plans to expand sales beyond Japan of Fujitsu's ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags designed specifically for tracking and managing garments. The tags will be marketed primarily in North America, Europe and China. Waterproof and thin enough to be attached to a wide variety of fabrics, the tags are designed to withstand heat, bending and pressure during washing. According to the companies, they can withstand tough environmental conditions through 200 cleaning cycles. Initially, the tags were developed to work with RF frequencies used in Japan. Now, Fujitsu and Fujitsu Frontech say they have developed RFID garment tags compatible with RF frequencies used in other nations. The tags are compliant with the ISO 18000-6C and EPCglobal Class 1 Gen 2 standards for passive UHF RFID tags. Two model types are available: the A501, which has predefined Electronic Product Code (EPC) input by Fujitsu, and the A601, which can have customized code input by customers. With the A601 model, users can customize the field codes to manage their products in accordance with detailed characteristics, including such information as product type, color and size. Fujitsu Frontech is manufacturing the tags, which are available for order now and are expected to ship in early July.

Weber Marking Systems' New RFID Label Printer-Applicator
Weber Marking Systems, a label and label-equipment manufacturer based in Arlington Heights, Ill., is offering an RFID label printer-applicator that prints, encodes and verifies UHF inlays, and can reject an nonfunctioning inlay before it is affixed to a package or item. If the 5300rfid SmartTrak label printer-applicator cannot properly encode or read a label's RFID tag, it prints the word "void" on the label and discards it. The 5300rfid offers a selection of print engines that utilize thermal-transfer technology to produce SmartTrak labels with text, bar codes and graphics at 203 or 300 dpi. The unit comes with enhanced RFID processes for throughput up to 12 inches per second. Labels as large as 4.5 inches wide and 6 inches long can be dispensed and applied using the non-contact, tamp-blow method, an air-assisted process in which labels are affixed using a pneumatic cylinder. Companies employing Weber's existing 5200 or 5300 label printer-applicator systems may purchase a retrofit kit to upgrade those units into RFID-capable systems.

GHX Mobile Solutions Updates RFID-enabled Inventory Tool
Louisville, Colo.-based GHX Mobile Solutions, a software and services provider for the health-care market, has unveiled a new version of its SalesAccelerator handheld inventory management tool that now works with RFID. The tool, which previously could read only bar codes, now reads high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID tags. The SalesAccelerator is designed to help health-care suppliers and providers more easily manage inventory. Using the new version of SalesAccelerator, an employee can automatically count the RFID-tagged inventory on hand. As products are consumed, the company says, the system can generate billing and/or a replenishment order.

RFID Verifies Collectibles for Texas Sports Hall of Fame
The Texas Sports Hall of Fame, located in Waco, has signed a three-year agreement with Prova Group to utilize Prova's RFID-enabled system for authenticating, certifying and registering autographs and other sports memorabilia. Using Prova's system, the Hall of Fame plans to apply 1- by 1-inch HF passive tags, complying with the ISO 15693 standard, to large items, and EPC Gen 2 passive UHF tags, measuring about 1 inch by 0.25 inch, to trading cards, baseballs or other smaller items. The tags are designed so that if one were removed from an item, its antenna would be broken, rendering the tag inoperable. Prova provided its technology and services at the Hall of Fame's 2008 Induction Ceremony on March 11, authenticating autographs on limited-edition prints by artist Robert Hurst for its honorees. The organization intends to employ Prova's system at other signing events held throughout the year as well. Members of the Hall of Fame, established in 1951 by the Texas Sports Writers Association, nominate and vote in new inductees, culminating in an induction gala each winter. Prova's authentication technology is already being utilized by several other organizations, including Triumph Sports, which has used Prova's system at its Football Spectacular Shows in Dallas and New Jersey (see RFID Gives Sports Memorabilia Stamp of Authenticity).

Motorola, Y3 Technologies to Develop RFID Solutions for YCH Group
Motorola and Y3 Technologies, a Singapore provider of RFID and supply chain management software, have partnered to provide RFID solutions for third-party logistics and supply chain company YCH Group, also headquarted in Singapore. Under the terms of the agreement, Motorola will combine its RFID technology with Y3 Technologies' supply chain management applications to jointly create tailor-made solutions for YCH Group and, in the future, other customers throughout Asia. Last month, YCH Group announced plans to build an RFID-enabled warehouse in the Lingang Logistics Park in Shanghai, China, using Y3 Technologies to deploy the solution with Motorola RFID readers and Wi-Fi infrastructure. Motorola and Y3 Technologies began working together in 2004, when the latter was seeking RFID equipment to drive its RFID-based solutions. This arrangement, the two companies indicate, has since evolved from a vendor-client relationship to a partnership in which Y3 Technologies is one of Motorola's key collaborators. Y3 Technologies has also worked with YCH Group, and has already implemented a warehouse management system for the firm. YCH Group has been testing RFID internally for the past four years, and those tests have proven RFID offers real business benefits, Robert Yap, YCH Group's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "We are ready to deploy the technology across all of our operations," he stated.
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