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RFID News Roundup

Digital Angel awarded contract for 50-foot-long RFID antenna system; Dutch researchers to develop open-source smart card with tight security capability; Intelleflex, Minds Inc. team up on RFID-enabled telematics for farmers; IDTronic intros new UHF RFID gate starter kit.
Jun 26, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Digital Angel Awarded Contract for 50-foot-long RFID Antenna System
Digital Angel, a St. Paul, Minn., manufacturer of RFID tags for identifying and tracking animals and other assets, has announced that its Destron Fearing unit has been awarded $885,000 in contracts for passive RFID systems with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project is part of a multiyear, ongoing fish-tracking program employing RFID tags to monitor salmon movement in the dam passages of the Columbia and Snake river basins in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and to help determine where and why salmon mortality occurs. The contract includes a $760,000 award for a nine-month development phase of a large RFID reader antenna system, measuring 50 feet long by 5 feet wide, for the Bonneville Dam. That phase of the project is slated to begin July 1 of this year. Another $125,000 is allotted for reader systems for river applications. The total budget for this multiphase, 18-month project is $2.5 million, with funding for later phases not yet awarded. In 2005, Digital Angel worked with the BPA on a project to develop a 17- by 17-foot antenna that can read RFID tags in salmon as they pass through large chutes en route to the Pacific Ocean, moving at a rate of up to 60 miles per hour (see RFID Antenna to Catch Fish).

Dutch Researchers to Develop Open-Source Smart Card With Tight Security Capability
Radboud University Nijmegen's Digital Security Group is developing a smart card based on open-source technology that employs cryptographic techniques to protect and secure the card. Earlier this year, the group's researchers and students announced they had discovered a security flaw in the authentication mechanism of the Mifare Classic, an RFID-enabled card from NXP Semiconductors, used for the Dutch ov-chipkaart card utilized for public transportation throughout the Netherlands. Mifare cards are also widely used in other countries and applications, including in the United Kingdom's Oyster card. The security flaw enabled the researchers to clone the cards, which they have done with both the Dutch and U.K. card schemes. The Digital Security Group consists of about 25 researchers focused on two themes: software security and identity-centric security. The two-year open-source smart card initiative is being funded by a research grant from Dutch philanthropic foundation NLnet, which supports organizations and individuals contributing to an open information society. NLnet says it funded the initiative because it wanted to promote the development of an open-source scheme that embeds privacy in the design phase. All software developed for the public transport smart card will be open source and, by principle, accessible to everyone.

Intelleflex, Minds Inc. Team Up on RFID-enabled Telematics For Farmers
Intelleflex, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags, and Minds Inc., located in Boisbriand, Quebec, have announced a joint solution that, according to the two companies, employs RFID, GPS and wireless communications to automatically track crop harvesting. The solution can help growers and harvesters track the location, timing and efficiency of their harvesting equipment, the companies claim, as well as when crop transport vehicles arrive, are loaded up and depart. That data is culled from GPS units and RFID interrogators mounted on harvesters, and the information is then transmitted wirelessly to a server so it can be securely accessed by growers via the Web and mobile phones. Intelleflex's technology is already being utilized by Bear River Supply, a provider of crop fertilizers, chemicals and other agricultural products and services to farmers in northern California, to help track equipment used to transport, store and dispense its products (see Agricultural Company Tracks Equipment Loaned to Farmers). Minds, a provider of information technologies and advanced automation systems for the road construction industry, also offers a solution using Intelleflex's BAP RFID tags to track hot-mix asphalt from the time it leaves a plant to when it arrives at a construction site and is dumped into a vehicle used to lay asphalt on roads and parking lots (see RFID Paves the Way for Road Construction).

IDTronic Intros New UHF RFID Gate Starter Kit
IDTronic, an RFID hardware provider based in Germany, has introduced a new ultra-high frequency (UHF) starter kit for developing an RFID gate. The UHF Long Range Gate Starter Kit consists of an IDTronic UHF Long Range Reader/Writer, four circular-polarized antennas, two stands, the necessary mounting equipment and cables, and a software development kit on CD-ROM. Based on Intel's R1000 transceiver IC, the RFID interrogator can be configured for any frequency between 860 and 960 MHz so it can be used in Europe, the United States and Japan. It also comes with a software-programmable RF power supply (up to 2W RF) and multicolor LED indicators. The interrogator is capable of reading tags conforming to the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6-B/C standards, and enables read distances of up to 10 meters (33 feet). It can be upgraded to support future RFID protocols, and has an aluminum enclosure so it can resist temperatures of up to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). A four-channel multiplexer is integrated in the reader/writer. The circular-polarized antenna is a high-performance, waterproof device that allows a user to read the tags in multiple three-dimensional orientations, and covers both European and U.S. RFID bands. Available now, the starter kit includes all required hardware and software, with tools and drivers for Windows and Linux, as well as demo applications, source code and full developer support.
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