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RFID News Roundup

GuardRFID and AppLocation intro RTLS for supply chains; Confidex unveils new EPC Gen 2 label; New York offers RFID-enabled driver's licenses; big jump for RFID patent applications in Korea; ODIN tests passive RFID tags for asset tracking.
Sep 18, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

GuardRFID and AppLocation Intro RTLS for Supply Chains
GuardRFID Solutions, a Canadian maker of active RFID products for health-care organizations and other businesses, has teamed with AppLocation Systems, based in Victoria, B.C., to create a real-time location system (RTLS) for supply chains. GuardRFID has made its RTLS available on AppLocation Systems' MOBILEFusion asset-tracking and inventory platform, which employs a proprietary air interface protocol. It also offers wide-area GPS locating and location-based mobility services. GuardRFID's products include TotGuard, a system of disposable, active RFID-enabled ankle and wrist bands designed to help hospitals protect the security of newborns while in the hospital; SafeGuard, an active RFID-enabled patient-tracking system; and OnGuard, a system designed to help hospitals track assets and hospital equipment using active RFID tags. All three support either Ethernet or Wi-Fi-based 802.11 local area networks. GuardRFID Solutions' tags transmit at 433 MHz and employ a proprietary air-interface protocol, which GuardRFID says allows eight-times-faster transactions and supports a high density of tags within a particular coverage area. According to Zahir Abji, GuardRFID's CEO, the RTLS allows businesses to combine active, passive or any locating technology across departments, and remote locations to provide greater supply chain visibility.

Confidex Unveils New EPC Gen 2 Label
Finnish tag maker Confidex has announced a new RFID label compliant with the EPC Class 1 Gen 2 standard. Confidex says the Casey label is designed for use with items for which RFID labels typically cannot perform adequately—for instance, on boxes, containers or packages with such contents as fruits, vegetables or bottles of liquid. The Casey, which the company claims also works as a general label, has a wideband antenna design combined with a water-resistant, synthetic face paper that can be printed to show item numbers, bar codes, company logos or any other customized information. The label features an NXP Semiconductors UCode G2XL chip with up to 240 bits of extended memory, operating at 860-960 MHz. It offers a maximum read range of 13 to 19 feet and can operate in temperatures ranging from -35 degrees to +85 degrees Celsius (-31 to +185 degrees Fahrenheit). It offers water resistance and was tested for 5 hours in water 1 meter (3.3 feet) deep. The label's dimensions are 92 millimeters by 24 millimeters by 0.2 millimeters (3.62 inches by 0.94 inches by 0.01 inches). The tag is available now worldwide.

New York Offers RFID-Enabled Driver's Licenses
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is now offering its enhanced driver's license (EDL) at all DMV locations across the state. Designed to expedite border crossings and improve the upstate economy by allowing citizens to carry a single, secure document that meets their driving, identity, and land and sea border-crossing needs, each EDL includes an embedded passive EPC Gen 2 UHF tag encoded only with a unique number that will verify issuance of the document to one specific individual. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will accept New York's EDL as an identity document that meets the requirements set forth in the federal government's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which takes effect on June 1, 2009. The WHTI, enacted in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will require U.S. citizens crossing land or sea borders between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean to prove their identity by presenting a valid U.S. passport, an RFID-enabled passport card or other federally recognized identity document. The EDL, according to state officials, is expected to benefit New York's upstate economy by expediting land and sea border crossings. More than 468,000 New York State jobs are currently supported by U.S.-Canada trade. In 2006, the U.S.-Canada merchandise trade was valued at more than $400 billion. Recent statistics show that Canadians made more than 2 million visits to New York State, spending more than $600 million during their stay. New York residents, meanwhile, made nearly 2 million visits to Canada, spending more than $500 million in that country. To apply for an EDL, applicants are required to visit a DMV office and provide their Social Security card, along with proofs of identity, citizenship and residency. Enhanced driver's licenses are the same size as a regular driver's license. Applicants will receive their license in approximately two to three weeks—the same amount of time for a regular driver's license. An EDL costs $30, in addition to any fees required for a driver's license or non-driver photo ID, and is valid for eight years. In comparison, the price of a U.S. passport is more than $100.

Big Jump for RFID Patent Applications in Korea
The Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) reports that the number of RFID patents filed in that nation has jumped from only 70 in 2001 to 1,201 last year, according to a report published by the Telecoms Korea News Service, an online news publication covering the wireless and broadband communications sector. The specific number of patents filed for RFID rose from 70 in 2001, to 186 in 2003, 892 in 2005, and 1,201 in 2007. Among the areas the patents were filed for include systems for finance, postal service and logistics, which account for the majority at 69 percent (2,668 patents filed from 2001 to 2007), followed by chips and tags (14 percent), middleware (7 percent), interrogators (6 percent) and antennas (4 percent). The most active assignee is the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), which filed 293 patents. Samsung Electronics filed 209 patents, while SK Telecom and LG Innotek filed 140 and 117 patents, respectively.

ODIN Tests Passive RFID Tags for Asset Tracking
A new study from Dulles, Va.-based RFID systems integrator ODIN Technologies evaluated passive RFID tags suitable for tracking IT assets. For its IT Asset Tracking Benchmark, ODIN tested seven metal-mount tags from four vendors and compared them based on a number of factors, including physical dimensions, performance and commercial availability. Multiple readers were used during testing. The tests in the study set out to determine read sensitivity (whether the tag will respond if reader power is decreased), orientation sensitivity (which tags require a handheld reader to be at a particular angle), distance (the optimal range for reading tags with a handheld reader), material dependency (which tags work on both metal and plastic equipment cases) and blade server inventory (which tags perform best when placed on blade servers). ODIN attached tags to rack servers and individual sticks of RAM, then tested whether RFID could be used to inventory a variety of IT assets spread throughout an office cubicle, how RFID compared with manual inventory and whether a stack of IT assets could be read passing through a doorway. One key lesson from the study, according to ODIN, is that no single tag or interrogator is appropriate for all use environments, and that companies should look to their IT equipment suppliers to provide pre-tagged hardware. The IT Asset Tracking Benchmark is the 12th installment of ODIN's RFID Benchmark series, which aims to independently evaluate RFID equipment performance based on physics. The report is available now for download from ODIN's Web site; the cost is $1,500 for an enterprise-wide business license. Educational institutions can contact ODIN for a free copy of the report.
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