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RFID News Roundup
Airetrak adds Wi-Fi temperature monitoring to RTLS app; Federal Signal buys Sirit to bolster intelligent transport and safety offerings; Discover publishes white paper on contactless sticker payment pilot; ADT's RFID Performance Test Center gets GS1 EPCglobal re-accreditation; Orange Tags manufactures more STMicroelectronics RFID chips.
Jan 14, 2010—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
Airetrak Adds Wi-Fi Temperature Monitoring to RTLS App
Airetrak, a U.K. provider of Wi-Fi-based real-time locating systems (RTLS), continues to add value to its ResourceView application, which displays an asset's location by means of Wi-Fi based RFID tags. The company has added Wi-Fi-enabled temperature-monitoring functionality, thereby enabling hospitals and clinics to keep tabs on the temperature of blood and drug products, as well as aid with patient safety. This additional functionality is designed to record the temperatures of all refrigerators and freezers, according to Airetrak, in addition to blood or drug boxes in transit. The new temperature-monitoring functionality was developed with input from 20 hospitals, and the sensors—which can monitor temperatures ranging from -200 degrees Celsius to +200 degrees Celsius (-328 degrees Fahrenheit to +392 degrees Fahrenheit)—communicate the temperature data via a hospital's Wi-Fi network. Automated alerts, communicated via e-mail or SMS text-messaging, can be sent in the event that a fridge's temperature rises or falls beyond predetermined thresholds. The monitoring solution comes with a reporting package that can provide an audit trail for up to 15 years, Airetrak reports, detailing every event, including response time, corrective action taken and escalations to other staff members. The ResourceView Wi-Fi Temperature Monitoring application is suitable for use with a wide range of easily deployable temperature sensors and probes, the company reports, and can be calibrated to 0.5 Celsius against standards set by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Multiple probes can be attached to each sensor unit, and are available for both air or ballast temperature readings. In early December 2009, Airetrak announced upgrades to ResourceView for more granular tracking (see Airetrak Upgrades Real-time Locating System for More Fine-tuned Tracking)
Federal Signal Buys Sirit to Bolster Intelligent Transport and Safety Offerings
Federal Signal, a provider of environmental, safety, and transportation solutions headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., has announced it is acquiring RFID hardware provider Sirit. Under the terms of the deal, valued at $48 million, Federal Signal will acquire all of Sirit's issued and outstanding common shares. Sirit focuses on RFID technology for such applications as tolling, electronic vehicle registration (EVR), parking and access control, asset management, cashless payments and supply chain systems. Federal Signal indicates it plans to combine Sirit's RFID technology with its detection and classification technology (acquired when it purchased Diamond Consulting Services in December 2009), as well as its existing automated license plate recognition technology, which leverages video imaging, offered by its PIPS Technology company. "We are excited about this transaction with Sirit, as it further strengthens Federal Signal's best-in-class product portfolio and advances our stated strategy of driving growth through our public safety systems platform," said William Osborne, Federal Signal's president and CEO, in a prepared statement. Upon completion of the transaction, Sirit will operate as part of Federal Signal's Safety and Security Systems Group.
Discover Publishes White Paper on Contactless Sticker Payment Pilot
Credit card company Discover Financial Services recently published a white paper outlining the results of an internal pilot leveraging contactless payment stickers that were affixed to 700 employees' mobile devices and ID badges. Launched in 2006, Zip is a contactless payments application available in a variety of forms, such as standard bank cards, key chain fobs, or its latest form, the contactless sticker. These contactless payment devices wirelessly transmit payment information to a special reader at a merchant's checkout terminal. Zip is accepted at more than 60,000 U.S. merchants, including 7-Eleven, Best Buy and Dairy Queen, and is being deployed at McDonald's, Toys"R"Us, Home Depot and Wendy's. Discover published the white paper to help card issuers "better evaluate the viability of leveraging contactless stickers in their portfolio, which can help attract new cardholders, and deliver a true (and potentially long-term) 'top of wallet' position." The stickers were used with Discover's Zip contactless payment systems, in place at the company's facilities in Riverwoods, Ill., and Salt Lake City. Employees utilized the stickers to make purchases in the sites' cafeterias, at two convenience stores and in vending machines. The mobile stickers used in the pilot are about one-quarter the size of a standard payment card, and the antenna is approximately half the size of one used in its card counterpart. The size of the antenna impacts reading distance, as does placing a sticker on a handset with a metal surface versus a plastic surface, (metal can diminish read range even further). Participants received the stickers via U.S. mail, which were linked to the employees' existing magnetic-stripe payment-card accounts. Those taking part also received instructions detailing how to activate the device, how to snap out the sticker away from standard-sized card plastic, how to affix the device to the item of their choice, best practices for placement and how to use the sticker at the point of sale. The pilot, launched in April 2009, is ongoing. One finding described in the white paper, based on surveys of the participants, is that a majority of respondents said they prefer that the stickers be hidden; Discover reports that it believes this is because users do not want to broadcast that their cell phone is a payment device. According to the white paper, the pilot management team indicated it was surprised by the creative places users found to hide the stickers: under the phone's protective case, beneath the battery cover and in other locations. Discover thus suggests, in the document, that a balance be struck with subtle branding, by not printing sensitive information (such as the account number and cardholder names) on payment stickers, and by creating mobile device accessories that can aid in hiding the stickers. The white paper, entitled "How Issuers Can Deliver Mobile Payments Today: A Guide for Contactless Sticker Issuance," can be downloaded here.
ADT's RFID Performance Test Center Gets GS1 EPCglobal Re-Accreditation
ADT Security Services has announced that its RFID Performance Test Center, located in Echt, The Netherlands, has received GS1 EPCglobal's Certificate of Accreditation. The lab, originally established in January 2006, was first accredited at that time, but to maintain status as a GS1 EPCglobal Accredited Test Center (ATC), an annual audit is required, according to Ann Lindstrom, ADT's director of corporate communications. The laboratory audit process uses a standard set of test profiles to simulate real-world conditions, and involves the testing of services and core technical capabilities. ADT successfully completed the "Core Technical Requirements" based on four components, Lindstrom says: quality systems, core technical requirements, test methods and recognized services. The re-accreditation helps ensure that ADT's RFID solutions provide retailers with consistent performance compliance to meet the Electronic Product Code (EPC) standards. "This is important," said Jeff Bean, ADT's VP of retail sales and operations, in a prepared statement, "because it gives our customers confidence that our item-level intelligence portfolio will meet a standardized performance level." The GS1 EPCglobal Performance Test Center Accreditation Program was developed to assess and evaluate the capabilities of testing facilities worldwide. "The GS1 EPCglobal Test Center Accreditation Program will help end users be assured that an accredited third party has established that these shipments adhere to the specifications," added Nicholas Fergusson, EPCglobal's director of certification, in the prepared statement.
Orange Tags Manufactures More STMicroelectronics RFID Chips
Orange Tags, a contract manufacturer of RFID products with offices in Singapore and Tokyo, as well as in ShenZhen, China, has announced the expansion of the portfolio of STMicroelectronics RFID chips it produces. The company now manufactures the LRI2K-2kbit, a 13.56 MHz chip that is compliant with the ISO 15693 and ISO 18000-3 Mode 1 standards and features a 64-bit UID and kill code, as well as the SRI512 (with 512 bits of memory) and SRIX4K (with 4 kilobits of memory), both 13.56 MHz short-range contactless memory chips complying with the ISO 14443-2 Type B air interface protocol and the ISO 14443-3 Type B frame format. The SRI512 features a 512-bit EEPROM, while the SRIX4K features a 4096-bit EEPROM; both provide anti-collision and anti-cloning functions. Orange Tags also now offers the XRA00, a 128-bit ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) contactless memory chip that supports EPCglobal's Class 1B specification, and the XRAG2, a 432-bit UHF contactless memory chip that supports EPCglobal's Class 1 Gen 2 specification.
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