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RFID News Roundup
New Israeli hospital to install Wavetrend active RFID technology; Istanbul mass transit buys more than 1 million RFID tickets; SkyeTek offers RFID solutions for medical inventory management; RadarFind offers temperature-sensing tags; Innovision launches higher-memory NFC RFID chips; Toshiba TEC unveils new RFID modules for printers.
Jun 12, 2008—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
New Israeli Hospital to Install Wavetrend Active RFID Technology
The newly built Ashdod Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, plans to implement an active RFID system to monitor and track equipment, personnel and high-risk patients. Wavetrend Technologies, headquartered in Surrey, United Kingdom, is supplying its active 433 MHz RFID solution for the implementation. Israeli systems integrator Ardan Control Tech Ltd. is overseeing the project, and will deploy asset- and personnel-tracking software with an open-architecture design to foster improved integration with other hospital software applications. RFID interrogators will be positioned throughout all six of the hospital's operational floors. According to Wavetrend, the real-time tracking capabilities offered by the system will enable the medical center to locate critical equipment and personnel in the event of an emergency, and to monitor the whereabouts of high-risk patients in real time so medical staff can react to an alert immediately. Employees will be able to access required information from any computer within the facility, based on predetermined authorization levels.
Turkish Mass Transit Buys More Than 1 Million RFID Tickets
RFID provider and systems engineer Confidex, based in Tampere, Finland, is providing more than 1 million limited-use Contactless PET RFID tickets for deployment in Istanbul, Turkey. The city's mass-transit system includes a mix of bus, rail and watercraft operated by the government and a number of private companies. Millions of passengers in Istanbul ride public transportation each day, Confidex reports, and city officials are investing heavily in an effort to modernize and increase the use of the transit system, while also reducing vehicle congestion. The city plans to expand its rail lines and is upgrading its electronic ticketing technology to improve efficiency. The Confidex PET tickets comply with the ISO 14443-A standard, are water-resistant and can be read in 0.3 seconds. They will augment the existing electronic ticketing system, replacing conventional paper tickets, and enable passengers to take five trips using a single ticket. Buses in Istanbul are currently being outfitted with new wireless readers that can scan the "5 in 1" tickets. Once the new reader systems are installed on turnstiles at all piers and rail stations, the RFID tickets will also replace traditional tokens. Belbim, a Turkish firm that designs and develops computer systems and software, and provides consulting services to the Istanbul, bought the tickets on behalf of the city. The company made the purchase based on a contract with smart-card technology provider Plastikkart Akilli Kart Iletisim Sistemleri.
SkyeTek Offers RFID Solutions for Medical Inventory Management
Embedded RFID reader technology provider SkyeTek is now offering two solutions designed to help medical manufacturers and distributors improve their operations and inventory management—particularly for the management of consigned and vendor-managed inventory. The solutions, known as RFID Smart-Container and Mobile-RFID, are designed to replace manual inventory processes and leverage RFID to enable employees to automatically track inventory in the field. Hospitals are asking medical implant manufacturers and their distributors to sell on consignment, and to manage inventory on behalf of the hospital, but the manufacturers and distributors are experiencing inaccurate inventory, shrinkage and slow billing due to the manual inventory-counting process. Moreover, SkyeTek claims, the manufacturers' sales teams typically conduct inventory counts, leading to less time spent out in the field selling and generating new revenue. The SkyeTek Smart-Container Solution retrofits existing cabinets and shelves through the installation of a network-connected RFID interrogator that automates item-level tracking. Tags applied to medical implants and other devices can be read multiple times per day, and the data is transmitted to back-end inventory management and billing applications in real time, via a wired or wireless network connection. The SkyeTek Mobile-RFID Solution includes an RFID handheld reader so field personnel can take inventory of an entire shelf with a simple arm wave. This information is then sent as well to the back-end inventory management and billing applications in real time, again via a wireless network connection. SkyeTek's solutions support several RFID frequencies, including high-frequency (HF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF).
RadarFind Offers Temperature-Sensing Tags
Real-time location system (RTLS) vendor RadarFind is extending its system's sensor capabilities to enable customers to track temperatures. For the past three years, the company's readers have included Microchip Technology's TC1046 so that RadarFind can gather environmental data to monitor the hardware's health; for instance, if one reader plugged into an outlet were to begin overheating, the embedded sensor would detect that problem and alert the RTLS. RadarFind decided to extend the sensor capability after a hospital asked it to develop asset tags with the sensor chip to monitor the temperature of refrigerators. According to RadarFind, the Microchip sensor offers high accuracy, a wide temperature-measurement range and low power consumption—features well suited for numerous automatic temperature-sensing applications within hospitals. The company is working with hospitals to develop a custom application leveraging the temperature-sensing capabilities to monitor refrigerators for medications and laboratory samples, as well as to document and meet regulatory standards for maintaining consistent temperatures within refrigerators and freezers. RadarFind temperature-sensing tags—battery-powered ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID transponders operating at 902 to 928 MHz—can measure temperatures ranging from -40 to 40 degrees Celsius (-40 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). The tags can be placed inside refrigerators or freezers, for instance, to monitor their temperature and provide instant notification of variances. If the temperature within a refrigerator varies beyond a preset range, an alert can be sent out via e-mail or text to the wireless devices of specified personnel, in accordance with hospital protocols. This information is automatically logged in the RadarFind software for use in compiling reports for internal or regulatory purposes.
Innovision Launches Higher-Memory NFC RFID Chips
IC manufacturer Innovision Research & Technology, headquartered in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, has launched next-generation Near-Field Communication (NFC) RFID chips offering up to 2 kilobytes of memory. The new IC platform, Innovision says, allows RFID and NFC integrators to select the optimal tag for their application performance and price requirements, and is designed for high-volume, small-size and lower-cost NFC RFID tags for integration into smart objects. The platform is both backwards-compatible with the company's existing Jewel and Topaz NFC RFID chips (which offer 96 bytes of memory), and forwards-compatible for new releases of consumer products meeting the NFC minimum level of interoperability (MLOI) specifications. Samples of the chips based on the platform are expected to be available in the second half of 2008.
Toshiba TEC Unveils New RFID Modules for Printers
Toshiba TEC Europe, an independent company of Toshiba Corp., has introduced new EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID modules for its label printers. The modules support Gray Area Detection, Short Pitch RFID Encoding Technology (SPRiNT) Gen 2 printing and, according to the company, a data-processing performance double that of previous kits. The patent-pending Gray Area Detection feature measures a tag's reflected power and ensures that only a tag meeting the set requirements will be programmed. If the reflected power output is too low to be reliably detected by RFID readers, the printer treats the tag as void and marks it as nonfunctioning. Toshiba TEC Europe's patent-pending SPRiNT Gen 2 technology is designed to accelerate RFID-based business processes. When a tag is beneath the printhead, it is typically very difficult to program the tag correctly. To overcome this limitation, the tag must be at a specific distance from the printer when programmed—a process that can slow printing when working with large batches of labels. To increase the throughput, Toshiba TEC Europe has configured the module so the printer will first encode data to one RFID tag, then move the label to its print position and encode information to the next tag while printing the first one. The SPRiNT Gen 2 feature is estimated to increase throughput by 2.5 times, the company reports. The data-processing enhancement increases the overall throughput for standard label applications; in tests, according to Toshiba TEC Europe, the time required to encode the tags has been cut in half. TEC UHF RFID modules for the company's B-SA4 and B-SX label printer family are available now throughout Europe.
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