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RFID Weekly News Roundup -- August 7, 2009

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Michigan farmers who claimed, among other things, that RFID cattle tracking violated their religious beliefs. That story, along with new RFID deployments at BMW and Siemens, disappointing financial results from several major RFID vendors, and a new standard for tracking medical equipment lead this week's news roundup.
Aug 07, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

August 7, 2009—A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Michigan farmers who claimed, among other things, that RFID cattle tracking violated their religious beliefs. That story, along with new RFID deployments at BMW and Siemens, disappointing financial results from several major RFID vendors, and a new standard for tracking medical equipment lead this week's news roundup.
  • On July 23, a U.S. District Judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of small farm advocates against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) in protest of the USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and the MDA's RFID cattle-tracking program. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, representing a group of farmers primarily based in Michigan, argued that the programs violated federal laws, created a financial burden on small farmers, and violated the religious liberties of Amish cattle owners who believe that RFID tags represent the "mark of the beast" mentioned in the Bible and infringed on their "dominion over cattle and all living things." You can read the ruling here.
  • The Asia-Pacific RFID market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21.1 percent, from $569.7 million in revenues in 2008 to $2.17 billion in 2015, spurred primarily by government sector projects, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan.
  • Siemens Enterprise Communications Manufacturing has improved production and supply chain performance, as well as foiled counterfeiters of the company's high-end business telephones, using an RFID solution from UPM Raflatac. The company embeds RFID tags (consisting of a UPM Raflatac UHF EPC Gen2 web inlay and NXP Semiconductors' U-Code G2XL IC) in its phones, which are used to track goods through Siemens' logistics centers all the way to the point of delivery. By uniquely identifying each phone, Siemens has also improved field installation and service, and made it more difficult for counterfeiters to introduce imitation product into the market. See the release here.
  • Chinese logistics provider COSCON Logistics has announced it will track and monitor shipper conveyances using a global GPS-based sensor network from Savi Networks. Using sensor devices attached to shipping containers, the company will gain real-time visibility of shipments throughout the supply chain. The system will also report on the security status of shipments and environmental conditions inside the container.
  • Indian insurance carrier Iffco-Tokio General Insurance plans to pilot RFID for a cattle-tracking application that it hopes will reduce claims fraud. RFID tags implanted in the cattle will be used during the claims handling process to positively identify animals. According to the company, the pilot will run from September to December in the Khurda district, and there are plans to launch similar projects in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujrat. Read the Business Standard report here.
  • Former Wal-Mart CIO Linda Dillman, who spearheaded the retailer's RFID initiatives, has joined HP as senior vice president of global information technology. See the announcement here.
  • ANSI has approved the Health Industry Business Communications Council's (HIBCC) proposed RFID standard for tracking medical equipment. ANSI/HIBC 4.0 recommends that 13.56 MHz HF RFID be adopted for healthcare item-level tagging in order to reduce potential interference with medical devices.

    Last June, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the results of a study that indicated UHF RFID equipment could produce electromagnetic inference (EMI) with medical devices (see Study Finds RFID Interferes with Medical Equipment and AIM to Clarify RFID Interference with Medical Devices).

    "Since we first published our initial position paper on RFID in 2007, HIBCC has consistently warned that the UHF implementations proposed by non-healthcare standards organizations and some RFID product vendors could create problems in hospitals," said Robert Hankin, HIBCC's president. "Our position is that the use of generic retail identification standards in medical care settings poses unnecessary risks and the JAMA-reported RFID study confirmed our position by indicating that there can be serious consequences form RFID in critical care environments." See the announcement here, and view the complete standard here.
  • BMW has implemented the Location Identification System/Tool Assistance System (LIS/TAS) at its production plant in Regensburg, Germany. The solution combines quality management software from IBS with a real-time location system from Ubisense, and provides automatic identification of vehicles in the assembly process. The system automatically assigns each vehicle to computer-assisted process equipment (automated screwdrivers, riveting tools, etc.) based on the spatial relationship between the vehicle and the equipment. Once a tool is allocated to a vehicle that has entered a pre-defined zone, the system triggers a vehicle-specific assembly order that is loaded onto the corresponding tool or equipment.

    The system is currently in production at the Regensburg plant, covering approximately 1,000 vehicles per day and 120 automated screwdrivers. Read the announcement here.
  • A group of Central Michigan University engineering students have tested an RFID-based Smart Cane to provide navigation cues to the visually impaired. The cane is equipped with an ultrasonic sensor that communicates with a miniature navigational system held inside a messenger bag to detect RFID tags attached to obstacles on a test course. The data collected during the current project will be passed along to future student design teams so that a fully functional system can later be developed and implemented at CMU.

    "This project started as a way for me to teach students to see and understand the ways that engineering can be used for the greater good," said CMU assistant professor of engineering Kumar Yelamarthi. "We wanted to do something that would help people and make our campus more accessible."
  • Lowry Computer Products announced that it has been awarded a U.S. Department of Defense AIT-IV contract to provide automatic identification technology to the U.S. military, other federal agencies, NATO and foreign allies.
  • UK-based NFC solution provider Innovision has raised $9 million from existing and new investors. Among other offerings, the company develops NFC intellectual property that it licenses to chip manufacturers.

    "As far as Innovision is concerned, our business model for NFC will continue to focus on propagating our IP with major semiconductor vendors for use in 'combo' and other chips designed for the mobile handset, laptop and consumer device markets," Innovision CEO David Wollen was quoted in the announcement. "We believe 'combo' chips are a major growth area in handsets, combining multiple wireless functions, such as Bluetooth, WiFi, FM and GPS on a single chip."
  • The NFC Forum, a non-profit association that advances the use of near field communication (NFC) technology, has announced a new $5,000 "Implementer" membership level targeted at companies that are directly implementing NFC solutions. Current membership levels are primarily targeted at technical specification development.
  • Wafer handling systems provider Crossing Automation announced it will acquire the assets of Asyst Technologies' atmospheric technologies and IP, including the sorter, EFEM (equipment front end module) and RFID products as part of Asyst's restructuring plan. Asyst's RFID products are used for work-in-process tracking in semiconductor manufacturing.
  • 3M Track and Trace Solutions announced its RFID Tracking Systems V3.0 software, which includes configurable, real-time alerting features and web-based reporting.
  • Tharo Systems introduced the PR100, a sub-$1,000 Gen2 handheld reader with a read range of up to five feet.
  • RFID reader and chip developer Impinj today announced that BlueStar will distribute its readers and reader antennas in the North American and Latin American markets.
  • SICK announced the RFH620 13.56 MHz RFID read/write unit, which is designed for intralogistics applications.
  • RedPrairie announced that it has integrated the asset management functionality from its Mobile Resource Management application in the company's warehouse management software, providing web visibility of serialized assets and enhanced integration of RFID yard transactions.
  • Passive RFID tag manufacturer Omni-ID announced that it has established a subsidiary in China dedicated to the production of its tags. The new Omni-ID High Science & Technology Co., Ltd. includes a manufacturing facility to enable Omni-ID better control over tag production quantities and quality.
  • Newport Digital Technologies announced it will distribute and market Ingram Micro's wireless solutions and products as part of its RFID offerings.
  • The Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park in Concord, North Carolina, has deployed Precision Dynamics' Smart Band RFID Wristband System for guest room access and cashless payments. This is the seventh Great Wolf location to utilize the technology. See the press release here.
  • Laird Technologies announced the RFID HD RooTenna, a series of 865-960 MHz weatherproof antennas designed for use in harsh environments.
  • Metalcraft announced that the company can now program expanded memory RFID inlays during the label converting process. RFID inlays with memory larger than 96 bits can be programmed inline, with synchronization of the item's printed image and post-programming data verification.
  • EV-Charge America's Gen2 electric vehicle charging stations utilize RFID keyring fobs to authenticate drivers, allowing them to charge their car at any of the stations. The charging stations are sold to municipalities and parking lot owners, and drivers subscribe to the company's service to obtain charging access for plug-in vehicles. See the announcement here.
  • Munich-based Schreiner LogiData has announced a self-adhesive RFID windshield label for use with the Cartag automatic parking payment system. See the release here.
  • Zebra Technologies announced its second quarter results. The company claimed net income of $9 million for the second quarter of 2009, compared to $25.5 million for the same quarter in 2008. Net sales were $187.7 million for the quarter ending July 4, 2009, compared with $253.8 million the prior year. Zebra cited the ongoing recession, sales declines in high-performance and midrange tabletop printers, and movements in foreign exchange as contributors to the sales decline.

    Intermec, meanwhile, reported second quarter revenues of $158 million and a net loss of $6.5 million, compared to revenues of $218 million and net earnings of $7.7 million for the same period last year.

    I.D. Systems reported a net loss of $2.3 million against revenues of $2.7 million for the second quarter, compared to a net loss of $1.5 million against revenues of $5.5 million in Q2 2008.

    Both Axcess International and SIRIT are scheduled to release their second quarter earnings next week.
  • NeoMedia Technologies and Mobile Tag have announced a non-exclusive patent licensing agreement for machine readable mobile codes under NeoMedia's patent portfolio, the first such agreement under NeoMedia's new licensing program. The agreement will allow Mobile Tag to supply customers with NeoMedia's interoperable 2D bar code reading technology for mobile phones and consumer devices.
  • Previously this week RFID covered Invengo's XCRF-860E fixed RFID reader, which supports Wi-Fi, GPRS and Bluetooth wireless communications to enable users to install it in areas without access to an Ethernet connection (see Wireless RFID Reader Eliminates Need for Ethernet).
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