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RFID News Roundup

Tagsys intros button-shaped RFID tag for garments; IDTronic releases new readers, tags for industrial apps; Ekahau adds 802.11n support, gets new funding; Toppan Forms unveils ultra-thin smart cards; Library Automation Technologies debuts small portable self-checkout RFID station.
Jun 05, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Tagsys Intros RFID Tag that Functions as a Clothing Button
RFID systems provider Tagsys has announced a new RFID tag that can serve as a garment button and is designed to track clothing throughout the laundering process. The ARIO 370L-HL RFID tag is a 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) passive tag that supports the ISO 15693 standard. According to Tagsys, the tag's disc-shaped white casing has two holes in the middle, enabling it to be sewn onto garments either manually or automatically, using most sewing machines, without compromising durability. The tag, which measures 15.5 millimeters (0.6 inch) in diameter and has a thickness of 2.8 millimeters (0.1 inch), is guaranteed by the company to survive 200-plus washings and withstand extreme humidity, temperature, pressure and chemical applications. The new tag joins Tagsys' family of other tags designed to track garments throughout the laundering cycle, including the ARIO 370L-DL, as well as other products designed specifically for the textile supply and service markets, such as the Medio L400 reader and textile services antenna series, the TS400 RFID Tunnel, and software for remotely managing and administering RFID networks.

IDTronic Releases New Readers, Tags for Industrial Apps
IDTronic, an RFID hardware provider based in Germany, has announced two new RFID reader-writers and a new RFID tag specially designed for industrial environments. The low-frequency (LF) version can read and encode 125 kHz tags, and the high-frequency (HF) version works with 13.56 MHz transponders. Part of the company's Bluebox RFID Multitag System family, the devices are designed to resist temperatures up to 55 degrees Celsius (131 degrees Fahrenheit) and are completely sealed against dust and water. They have two digital inputs with optical insulation and two digital output (relay) ports, and may be used with RS232, RS485 and Ethernet interfaces. The maximum power consumption for the RS232 and RS485 versions is 150mA, and for the Ethernet model is 400mA. The interrogators are able to store data for up to 30,000 tags, which can be preprogrammed with specific IDs based on customer requirements. The 125 kHz version supports tags made with the following RFID chips: EM Microelectronic's EM 4100 and EM 4550, NXP's NXP Hitag 1/S, and Atmel's Temic 5567. The 13.56 MHz version supports tags complying with the ISO 15693, ISO 14443A and ISO 14443B standards, as well as NXP's Mifare family of transponders. IDTronic's new PPS "Indus" Disctags, the company indicates, are particularly suited to the identification of goods and objects in industrial, logistics and production applications. The Indus tags have a protective overlay layer made from polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) lamination, which, according to IDTronic, allows them to withstand exposure to harsh environmental conditions, such as abrasion, impact, temperatures up to 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit), and a wide range of corrosive chemicals. The tags are available with the most common 125 kHz chips, such as the EM 4100 and NXP Hitag 1 + 2. They are also available with 13.56 MHz transponders, including NXP's Mifare family and I-Code SLI, as well as Texas Instruments' Tag-it HFI. The tags are available in diameters of 13, 18, 20, 28 and 30 millimeters (0.5, 0.7, 0.8, 1.1 and 1.2 inches), with a thickness of 2.5 millimeters (0.1 inch).

Ekahau Adds 802.11n Support; Gets New Funding
Ekahau, a provider of Wi-Fi-based real-time location systems (RTLS), has announced that its RTLS location-tracking solution and Ekahau Site Survey (ESS) Wi-Fi network planning and optimization tools will be compatible with the upcoming 802.11n standard. That standard—a proposed amendment that adds multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) and other features, and is expected to be finalized by year's end—offers greater radio coverage and location accuracy, according to Ekahau. The company claims its ESS software will help organizations with new 802.11n installations, both in off-site planning and during post-deployment verification and troubleshooting. Ekahau RTLS 4.X, with its support of 802.11n (based on the current draft), is available now. ESS 4.5, which will include the 802.11n support, is expected to ship during the third quarter of 2008. Existing customers with an active support and maintenance contract will receive the ESS 802.11n upgrades free of charge. In other news, the Helsinki, Finland-based company has reported that it has raised more than $10 million in Series C funding. Mobile venture capital firm Nexit Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers such as Finnish Industry Investment Ltd. and Sampo Group, as well as several private investors. Nexit Ventures' executives have been pivotal in helping develop Ekahau's business since 2000; in 2002, for instance, the firm assisted Ekahau in transferring its headquarters to Silicon Valley, close to its major customers. Though Ekahau's product development and most of its staff are located in Finland, the company says its revenue is generated almost exclusively from international markets—primarily the United States.

Toppan Forms Unveils Ultra-Thin Smart Cards
Toppan Forms, based in Tokyo, has introduced new RFID-enabled smart cards featuring Solicore's Flexion product portfolio of ultra-thin flexible lithium polymer batteries. Solicore, headquartered in Lakeland, Fla., makes batteries using Polymer Matrix Electrolyte (PME), which the company says enables batteries to be ultra-thin, flexible, and environmentally friendly and safe. Specifically, the batteries can operate over a temperature range of -20 to 60 degrees Celcius (-4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit), can be shaped and formed into a variety of designs, and are non-toxic. Toppan Forms' new smart cards contain NXP's Mifare passive 13.56 MHz chips, which comply with the ISO 14443-A standard. The cards can generate one-time passwords that can be seen on the cards' display, making them ideal for securing such financial applications as online trading and online banking, or for company intranet access. Dynamic, one-time passwords are typically more secure than memorized passwords—which can be stolen—because they can be used only once. The new smart cards are now commercially available, and sample shipments have been distributed to select customers in Japan.

Library Automation Technologies Debuts Small Portable Self-Checkout RFID Station
Library Automation Technologies, a Somerdale, N.J., provider of RFID-enabled library checkout and security systems, has announced a new self-service system designed to fit in very small spaces. The device, known as FlashScan-MAXine, measures 33 inches in width, and 22 inches in depth and height. As with other systems in the company's FlashScan line, it can support 13.56 MHz RFID tags compliant with ISO standards for library RFID systems. The FlashScan-MAXine can be placed anywhere within a library, the company says—even on a moving cart—and includes an interactive touch-screen display so library patrons can easily use and interact with the system. In addition, the device includes LAT-Central Enterprise Management Software so the desktop system can be remotely managed from anywhere. The system is available now.
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