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RFID News Roundup

SkyeTek launches EPC Gen 2 desktop USB reader; Blaze Mobile, MasterCard offer NFC payment sticker for mobile devices; PowerID announces new BAP RFID labels; Inside Contactless, First Data team up on contactless payment stickers; Austriamicrosystems, IE Technology intro new fixed UHF reader; ARINC/Impeva tracking solution passes test for tracking of ordnance, explosives.
Apr 10, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

SkyeTek Launches EPC Gen 2 Desktop USB Reader
RFID hardware and software provider SkyeTek has announced the SR70, a desktop USB RFID interrogator for EPC Gen 2 UHF applications. The SR70 incorporates SkyeTek's M7 reader module, first unveiled in February 2008 (see SkyeTek Announces Smaller, Low-Power UHF Reader Module). The M7 reader module is smaller than a matchbook and draws only a quarter of a watt of battery power—features that SkyeTek says could turn a handheld PDA into an RFID interrogator, as well as replace the high-frequency (HF) RFID technology employed in machine-to-machine communications, such as robotic equipment used on factory floors, or deployed in RFID-enabled shelving, among other things. The SR70 also includes the SkyeReader Console software, which provides users with a graphical Web-based interface to configure, provision and monitor RFID-tagged inventory items and RFID components. According to SkyeTek, the SR70 is designed for reading and writing to tags attached to items and documents, enabling such desktop applications as tag commissioning, shipping and receiving, point-of-sale, and check-in/checkout. The device features plug-and-play USB 2.0 connectivity, a 5.8-inch by 3.5-inch footprint, an integrated directional antenna, power control and tag anticollision/filtering algorithms. The SR70 is certified for use in North and South America. Available now, the reader is priced at $369 apiece (at quantity).

Blaze Mobile, MasterCard Offer NFC Payment Sticker for Mobile Devices
Blaze Mobile, a provider of mobile commerce and advertising solutions, has teamed with MasterCard Worldwide to offer the Blaze Mobile MasterCard PayPass mobile payment sticker. The Near Field Communication (NFC) sticker can be affixed to any mobile device, enabling it to be used for purchases at more than 141,000 merchant locations that currently support MasterCard's NFC-based contactless payment system. The mobile payment sticker is tied to a prepaid account, and is issued by MetaBank, a federally chartered savings bank headquartered in Storm Lake, Iowa. The mobile payment sticker is designed to work specifically with mobile devices, but functions just like other PayPass devices, MasterCard reports. The mobile payment sticker transmits account information to the merchant's point-of-sale terminal, via highly secure advanced radio frequency technology, enabling consumers to simply tap their mobile device with the sticker affixed on a PayPass reader, in order to complete their transaction. "This innovative mobile payment sticker leverages the ubiquity and convenience of mobile phones, as well as the increasing comfort level among consumers with converging technologies on mobile devices," said Art Kranzley, MasterCard's chief emerging technology officer, in a prepared statement. "Contactless payment capabilities on the device will make life easier for mobile users who can quickly make purchases at retail locations without their wallets."

PowerID Announces New BAP RFID Labels
PowerID, a provider of battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID technology, has announced the availability of two new versions of its PowerG and PowerM BAP labels. The new PowerG and PowerM labels, which comply with EPCglobal's Gen 2 (18000-6C) standard, are 56 percent and 62 percent smaller than previous versions, respectively. According to PowerID, the new designs were created in response to partners and customers requesting smaller labels. Performance is no different than the older (and still available) versions of PowerID's EPC Gen 2 BAP labels, first released in April 2008, the company reports. The PowerG is a general-purpose tag designed for logistics applications, such as pallet tracking, and can be utilized on pallets containing RF-unfriendly food and beverages. The new version measures 85 by 54 millimeters in size, PowerID notes. The PowerM is designed for tracking metal goods such as steel slabs, automotive parts or IT assets, including laptops. The new version of the PowerM measures 80 by 65 by 2.8 millimeters in size. Available today in high volumes, the labels will be showcased at RFID Journal LIVE! 2009, taking place on Apr. 27-29 in Orlando, Fla., at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin (Booth 620).

Inside Contactless, First Data Team Up on Contactless Payment Stickers
Inside Contactless, a provider of contactless chip technologies, and First Data, an electronic commerce and payment processing services provider, have announced a three-year agreement to jointly develop contactless payment stickers, which First Data will market as GO-Tag products. Inside will supply its contactless MicroPass payment sticker prelaminates exclusively to First Data-qualified card manufacturers for production. First Data will market and distribute GO-Tag products to financial institutions, major U.S. merchants and other distribution channels in a variety of form factors, according to the two companies. "First Data's GO-Tag Solution represents an important step in the evolution from today's plastic cards and fobs, offering a bridge to the future of mobile payments," said Barry McCarthy, First Data's general manager of mobile commerce and point-of-sale solutions, in a prepared statement. "Our partnership with Inside Contactless enables us to offer consumers an opportunity to turn just about any personal item, from a mobile phone to an employee ID badge, into a payment device."

Austriamicrosystems, IE Technology Intro New Fixed UHF Reader
Austriamicrosystems, a designer and manufacturer of analog ICs for communications, industrial, medical and automotive applications, has partnered with IE Technology Co. Ltd. (IET), an RFID systems integrator located in Bangkok, Thailand, to offer the IET RU-210u, a mid-range fixed EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) interrogator that includes a USB serial interface. According to the two companies, the reader is ideal for logistics, manufacturing and retail applications. The device incorporates Austriamicrosystems' AS3990 UHF RFID reader chip, which includes an EPC Gen 2 protocol engine. Austriamicrosystems' UHF RFID reader chip, the company reports, is designed to enable firms such as IE Technology to more quickly develop RFID readers. "We at IET are working closely with our customers to find dynamic and flexible solutions," said Apiwat Thongprasert, IE Technology's business development manager, in a prepared statement. "In some applications like food traceability and asset tracking, we needed a custom-made UHF RFID reader with special features. With Austriamicrosystems' AS3990 reader chip, we can speed up the duration for launching new models from four months to only seven weeks. This will help us to serve and satisfy our customers' needs, which is our primary objective."

ARINC-Impeva Tracking Solution Passes Test for Tracking of Ordnance, Explosives
ARINC, a provider of communications and engineering solutions as well as systems integration to government, defense and commercial organizations, has announced that its Next Generation Wireless Communications (NGWC) global satellite tracking system received Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation (HERO) certification on Mar. 10, 2009. The tracking system, unveiled in early January, was developed in cooperation with partner Impeva Labs, a provider of global asset-management and optimization systems and services (see ARINC, Impeva Unveil Real-Time Supply Chain Tracking Solution). The solution leverages a variety of RFID technologies, including mesh networking and wireless sensors that can measure a variety of conditions, such as temperature, humidity, movement, shocks and intrusions (a door opening on a container, for instance) to monitor mobile assets. Such assets include locomotives, railcars, trucks, trailers and sea vessels; intermodal containers; fixed assets, such as pipelines and oil platforms; and high-value components, such as jet engines. The solution includes two main components: the Global Sentinel Unit (GSU), which serves as an RFID interrogator and communications gateway, and the Remote Sensor Units (RSUs), which function as active RFID tags. Each RSU transmits a unique ID number, along with any data collected from wired and wireless sensors communicating with the RSU. The GSU forwards all of that information to servers that make up the Global Sentinel Device Management Center. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, located in Dahlgren, Va., performed HERO testing on the GSU. With the HERO certification, the GSUs can now be used to track U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) container shipments of ammunition and explosives, as well as non-explosive shipments. According to the Navy, the test results showed that the GSU device does not require "safe separation" distances when mounted on standard ISO shipping containers of ordnance.
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