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RFID News Roundup

Tagsys secures $12 million in venture funding; Albis Technologies adds ruggedized tags, ATEX EX certification and a handheld reader; CSL intros new module for RFID handheld that adds GPRS/GPS; Gerry Weber picks Nordic ID as handheld RFID supplier; Balluff intros tech services for RFID, networking and sensor projects; Venezuelan Marriott employs RFID-enabled locking system.
Mar 18, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Tagsys Secures $12 Million in Venture Funding
RFID infrastructure provider Tagsys has announced that it has secured €8 million ($12 million) in new investment, led by current investors Elliot Advisors, Endeavour Vision, Add Partners, DFJ Esprit and Saffron Hill. Tagsys reports that it will use the funds to expand its distribution channels, help partners such as systems integrators, value-added resellers and independent software vendors secure new markets, and continue to develop ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and high-frequency (HF) RFID solutions designed for use with item-level tracking applications in a variety of markets, including the library, textile services, brand and fashion, and health-care sectors. In a prepared statement, Bernard Vogel, Endeavor Vision's cofounder and managing partner, said the RFID market has reached a stage of maturity. "RFID solutions-based companies such as Tagsys are at the forefront in delivering this competitive advantage to leading companies around the globe," he stated.

Albis Technologies Adds Ruggedized Tags, ATEX EX Certification and a Handheld Reader
Albis Technologies, a Swiss provider of 2.45 GHz RFID tracking solutions, has announced new additions to its ZOMOFI RFID product family, which currently consists of Z-Controllers (RFID readers), Z-Tags (active transponders) and Z-Edgeware (software integration). According to Albis Technologies, the new products include a ruggedized transponder designed to withstand extreme environment and climate changes, a Z-Tag humidity sensor, a handheld reader and certification that its active RFID products now support the ATEX/IEC Ex specifications, which indicate the products are harmless in explosive gas or dust zones. ZOMOFI (which stands for Zone Monitoring and Find) is a real-time location system (RTLS) designed to identify tagged items within zones, and pinpoint their location. The system has a range of up to 160 meters (525 feet) with a basic antenna, low electromagnetic radiation (1,000 times less than a mobile phone), transponders that feature temperature and motion sensors, and full functionality in metallic environments, the company reports. The ZOMOFI portfolio is designed for use in various applications, including logistics and asset tracking, indoor and outdoor RTLS, traffic and railway monitoring, workforce safety, access control, and condition monitoring, such as cold-chain applications. All of the products are available now, and Albis Technologies reports that it has customers in six countries across Europe and the Middle East. The company is actively looking to partner with U.S. resellers in order to extend its market into North America.

CSL Intros New GPRS/GPS Module for RFID Handheld
Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL), an RFID equipment manufacturer based in Hong Kong, has unveiled a new plug-in module that adds quad-band EGSM connectivity and GPS location functionality to its CS101 RFID handheld, an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 interrogator. The new GSM/GPS module is IP65-rated, which signifies that it is protected against dust and low-pressure jets of water from all directions. Available now, the CS501 module costs $495. "We are excited to offer this additional functionality to our customers," said Sujatha Bodapati, the CEO and founder of Assetpulse (a CSL partner and reseller), in a prepared statement. "It helps users scan and sync inventory at remote sites that have minimal IT infrastructure. This module fits well in our outdoor asset-tracking solution set."

Gerry Weber Picks Nordic ID as Handheld RFID Supplier
Gerry Weber International, a Germany-based manufacturer of women's fashions, has inked a deal with Nordic ID, a Finnish maker of RFID handhelds and other devices. Nordic ID is providing its PL3000 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Cross Dipole handheld computers for Gerry Weber's initiative to track the 25 million garments it produces each year. The company is using EPC Gen 2 RFID technology as part of an effort to improve the efficiency of its incoming goods and inventory processes, and to create an electronic article surveillance (EAS) system (see Gerry Weber Sews In RFID's Benefits). Nordic ID will deliver the handheld devices this coming July, the company reports, noting that the handhelds will be mostly used in goods receiving and inventory management at approximately 150 stores. "Nowadays, it takes us about two days to complete the inventory on a 200-square-foot retail space," said Christian von Grone, Gerry Weber's CIO, in a prepared statement. "After the rollout, this process will take only about ten minutes." The PL3000 Cross Dipole, which features a cross-polarizing antenna developed by Nordic ID that enables the device to read tags both horizontally and vertically, can interrogate tags from up to 4 feet away, even through closed boxes. The PL3000 Cross Dipole weighs 800 grams (about 1.76 pounds) and comes with a rechargeable battery that can operate for up to 20 hours.

Balluff Intros Tech Services for RFID, Networking and Sensor Projects
Balluff Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Germany's Balluff and a maker of a range of sensors, has announced a new set of services designed to help organizations with implementation design and execution that want to leverage Balluff's sensors, accessories, networking and RFID components. Balluff's products are generally sold to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and systems integrators that typically work on and provide technical services to large-scale automation projects that leverage the sensors (see Fanuc, Balluff Add RFID Machine-Tool Controller). Therefore, Balluff is rolling out services that it claims are better suited for small and midsize companies that engage in smaller automation projects. Some of the services provided include system design and integration assistance, start-up and installation, process improvement, preventive maintenance, training, and product modifications and enhancements. More specifically, Balluff provides product modifications and enhancement services, such as the building of custom sensor connectors, custom screens for RFID handhelds, and data-carrier programming for RFID systems. Available now, all of the services have specific, set prices. As part of the services, Balluff offers a technical services team that is available around the clock.

Venezuelan Marriott Employs RFID-enabled Locking System
The new Venezuela Marriott Hotel Playa Grande, located in Catia la Mar, is using an RFID-enabled hotel-locking system from VingCard Elsafe, a hospitality security provider and part of the Assa Abloy Hospitality Group. The newly completed installation of the Vision system includes touch-screen technology and Signature RFID contactless electronic door locks that leverage 13.56 MHz technology and are compatible with the ISO 14443 A/B, ISO 15693 and Near Field Communication (NFC) standards. The implementation also includes VingCard Elsafe's Infinity II electronic in-room safes. The Marriott Hotel Playa Grande is a 206-room, oceanfront property that features an on-site fitness center, a sport court, three restaurants, a full-service business center and 10,785 square feet of meeting space. The Vision system uses menu-driven software and can be integrated with a hotelier's current property-management system (PMS). The system features a portable Windows Pocket PC LockLink that enables employees to view the last 600 locking events directly from the guestroom door, keeping staff members constantly up to date on procedures at the property. The Signature RFID technology can be adapted to meet hoteliers' needs, such as leveraging a variety of form factors—from contactless keycards to wristbands, key fobs and NFC-enabled cell phones—that guests can utilize to unlock their doors. "By choosing the Vision system," said Roberta Ferrari, owner of the Venezuela Marriott Hotel Playa Grande, in a prepared statement, "our property can operate efficiently by integrating our front-desk system to our current PMS workstations and server."
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