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RFID News Roundup

Airetrak upgrades real-time locating system for more fine-tuned tracking; HID Global provides Multi-ISO reader board for Psion Teklogix handheld; BASF launches metal-based inks for producing flexible antennas for RFID tags; Visonic Technologies launches new active RFID/RTLS reusable tag; ViVOtech adds RFID to chip-and-PIN devices, joins Middle East NFC trial; Digital Angel sells McMurdo unit to Orolia.
Dec 03, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Airetrak Upgrades Real-time Locating System for More Fine-tuned Tracking
AireTrak, a U.K. provider of Wi-Fi-based real-time locating systems (RTLS), has announced it has added three enhancements to its ResourceView application, which displays an asset's location by means of Wi-Fi based RFID tags. ResourceView leverages Cisco's 3350 Mobility Service Engine (MSE) to provide location across Cisco's wireless LAN platform, and can work with any tags that support the Cisco Complaint Extensions (CCX), such as tags manufactured by AeroScout. The tags, affixed to portable equipment and other assets, send signals to a Wi-Fi network. Through a process of triangulation, the wireless network determines each tag's position, which can then be viewed via the ResourceView Web-based software. The new enhancements consist of a more comprehensive zoning system to allow hierarchical zones, improved management of status changes on tagged equipment and an enhanced proximity function to allow searching for nearby assets. The hierarchical zoning system lets organizations define, in the software, exact locations—such as a building, floor, ward, room, bay and storage unit. The status-change feature enables the icons representing tracked assets to appear differently when the status of those assets change—for example, if a bed becomes available. The proximity function lets users search for available resources, such as finding the location of the nearest wheelchair.

HID Global Provides Multi-ISO Reader Board for Psion Teklogix Handheld
HID Global, a manufacturer of secure identity solutions, has announced that its Multi-ISO reader board is now available as a snap-on, secure contactless, high-frequency (HF) module option for buyers of the new Psion Teklogix Ikôn handheld computer, a rugged PDA with a full VGA display, a QWERTY keyboard and support for Wi-Fi, 3G HSDPA, Bluetooth and GPS networking technologies. HID Global's HF module can turn the Ikôn into a device that can be used for such applications as automatic fare collection (AFC) in transportation, as well as in event ticketing, vending and mobile solutions. According to HID Global, the reader board supports a range of industry standards, including ISO 14443 A/B, ISO 15693, ISO 18000-3 and Electronic Product Code (EPC). This includes all ISO 14443 A/B and ISO 15693 tags, cards and tokens. The device also supports contactless payment and is NFC-ready. The Multi-ISO reader offers a read time of up to 848 kilobits of data per second, provides an anti-collision algorithm for multi-card handling and features a power-saving mode in order to maximize battery life without increasing the battery's capacity and weight.

BASF Launches Metal-based Inks for Producing Flexible Antennas for RFID Tags
Chemical company BASF has introduced a new range of metal-based inks designed for use in the production of flexible antennas for RFID tags. The non-conductive CypoPrint inks offer a cost-efficient and more eco-friendly alternative to the current etching technique, the company reports. According to BASF, the CypoPrint inks replace the expensive, conductive printing pastes previously utilized in the additive process, and substantially reduce the manufacturing costs of RFID antennas. The inks are applied to polyester films using a standard printing process, and are then given a conductive metallic coating in an electroplating system for flexible electronics. CypoPrint inks are converted and made conductive in the electroplating stage. "CypoPrint is the 'seed' that we apply to the object where we later want to 'grow' copper conductor structures," said Christoffer Kieburg, a project manager in BASF's metal systems business, in a prepared statement, adding that the antennas' variable layer thickness and conductivity can be easily adapted to the various memory chips during electroplating. Several years ago, plating-equipment specialist Meco reported that it had developed a way to produce RFID antennas by using a coating of expensive conductive ink thinner than that used for printed antennas, and then plating that coating with cheaper copper (see Meco Uses Plating to Cut Antenna Cost), while U.K. firm TDAO Ltd. announced it had developed an ultrafast dynamic additive process designed to produce flexible circuitry using electrodeposited copper extracted from copper sulfate solution (see TDAO Reveals Antenna Plating System).

Visonic Technologies Launches New Active RFID/RTLS Reusable Tag
Visonic Technologies (VT), a supplier of active RFID and real-time locating systems (RTLS), has unveiled its Elpas Active RFID/RTLS Reusable Tag, designed for infant and high-risk patient protection applications. The tag's dual-technology transmitter emits low-power, beacon-type ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RF messages, as well as supplemental infrared (IR) messages that the company says can be used to determine location to room-level precision in open and enclosed indoor spaces without electromagnetic interference to hospital equipment. The tag also incorporates a magnetic, low-frequency (LF) receiver that adds chokepoint area detection, so whenever a patient physically comes near a prohibited entrance or exit, a security intervention alarm can be configured to trigger automatically. In addition, the tag can transmit supervision messages for keeping security personnel informed of device tampering, or of a patient's unsupervised removal from the protected area. The Elpas Reusable Tag supports Elpas2, VT's topology for backhauling RFID/RTLS security and safety solutions over wired or Wi-Fi networks.

ViVOtech Adds RFID to Chip-and-PIN devices, Joins Middle East NFC Trial
ViVOtech has announced it has teamed up with Tailwind, a marketing consultancy specializing in helping bring new products to market, to develop and deploy joint solutions that, according to the two companies, will help retailers leverage contactless payment systems. Tailwind and ViVOtech will integrate contactless payment readers into the chip-and-PIN devices used in existing point-of-sale (POS) terminals using Tailwind's "POS Paddle" universal Pin Pad mounting solution and ViVOtech's ViVOpay line of contactless payment readers. Chip-and-PIN devices are replacing traditional magnetic stripe equipment with smart-card technology, in which credit and debit cards contain an embedded microchip and are authenticated automatically using a PIN. The technology is being used in Europe, where government-backed initiatives have developed. Tailwind's POS Paddle enables retailers to upgrade their existing chip-and-PIN systems to accept contactless payments with minimum cost and disruption. According to the two companies, the integration of their technologies can turn chip-and-PIN systems into a single customer-facing unit and a single point of interaction. "Contactless adoption by retailers is growing worldwide," said Mohammad Khan, ViVOtech's president and founder, in a prepared statement. "That demand comes not only from the desire to accept easy and convenient contactless cards, but also from the desire to be ready for the upcoming NFC mobile payment revolution. ViVOpay readers will enable existing Chip and PIN devices to accept not only contactless and NFC mobile payments, but also to offer advanced merchant loyalty programs, such as mobile promotions, vouchers and rewards."

ViVOtech has also announced that consumer finance company Dubai First and du, the integrated telecom services provider of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are employing ViVOtech's end-to-end Near Field Communication (NFC) payment solution in what they describe as the first NFC mobile payment pilot in the Middle East. The pilot, scheduled to continue until the second quarter of 2010, will enable consumers to pay for purchases using specially equipped mobile handsets. Dubai First and du first announced their plans to trial NFC payments in May 2009 (see NFC Payments Trial Planned for Middle East). During the trial phase, select Dubai First Platinum MasterCard customers will be able to download their credit card functionality securely to specially equipped mobile handsets over du's mobile network. Once the handset has been personalized, a customer could conduct transactions using his or her du mobile connections at multiple MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant locations in the UAE. The first group of participating consumers are in the process of receiving special handsets from du. The ViVOtech technology being used in the pilot includes ViVOtech Issuing Servers, which reside at Dubai First and enable the secure Over-The-Air (OTA) provisioning of credit cards to mobile handsets; ViVOtech Control Servers that manage the provisioning and service of electronic wallets in the mobile handsets; ViVOwallet electronic wallets, loaded in the handsets; and ViVOpay NFC readers positioned at merchants throughout the region.

Digital Angel Sells McMurdo Unit to Orolia
Digital Angel, a St. Paul, Minn., manufacturer of RFID tags for identifying and tracking animals and other assets, has announced it has completed the sale of its McMurdo unit, which makes emergency location beacons, to Orolia, a high-tech group specializing in precise positioning, navigation and timing systems. Under the terms of the deal, the unit was sold for about $9.6 million, of which approximately $8.8 million was paid in cash and approximately $800,000 was retained by the buyer to pay the retained trade and vendor payables, according to a Form 8-K filing made by Digital Angel. The filing states that $1 million of the proceeds will be held in escrow for up to 12 months, with the remaining proceeds to be used to repay accounts payable and debt, and to fund working capital. In April 2007, Digital Angel purchased McMurdo from Chemring Group for approximately $5.7 million in cash. McMurdo's emergency location beacons will complement Orolia's recent acquisition of Kannad, a French manufacturer of distress beacons. "We very much look forward to working closely with all of the Orolia businesses, especially Kannad, as we share very many similar technologies and expertise which I am sure will benefit both of us in the future," said Jeremy Harrison, CEO of the newly created McMurdo Ltd., in a prepared statement, adding that the "acquisition gives McMurdo the much needed springboard to continue our growth and ability to develop more exciting and innovative products for the global safety markets."
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