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RFID News Roundup

Ubisense launches intrinsically safe location-tracking tags; TrigPoint provides RFID-based safety solution for drilling contractor; HID Global intros passive tag for waste management; Toledo Ticket, TransCore launch RFID-based hangtags for parking, access control; VizBee announces availability of RTLS platform; Humber River Hospital selects Versus RTLS to improve patient flow.
May 13, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Ubisense Launches Intrinsically Safe Location-Tracking Tags
Ubisense, a manufacturer of ultra-wideband (UWB) real-time location system (RTLS) solutions, has announced that its Intrinsically Safe (IS) Tag has been awarded ATEX and UL913 (HAZLOC) certification for use within potentially explosive environments, and that it is immediately available as part of its Plant Access Manager personnel safety solution. The IS Tag transmits UWB radio pulses that can be used by the Ubisense location system to pinpoint its position to within 15 centimeters (6 inches) in 3-D, depending on system configuration and environment. Because the system measures both the angle of arrival (AOA) and the time difference of arrival (TDOA) of the tag's signals, it can generate accurate 3-D tracking information, even when only two sensors can detect the tag. Ubisense tags also employ a dual-radio architecture—that is, in addition to having a one-way UWB radio used for tracking, they also have a conventional bidirectional 2.4 GHz radio for control and telemetry. The IS Tag is a small, rugged device designed for tracking personnel and objects in hazardous industrial environments, such as mines or petrochemical refineries, in which the atmosphere can be potentially explosive. Devices used within these volatile areas must be certified to show that their components cannot produce or contain enough energy to create dangerous sparks. According to the company, extensive testing has demonstrated that the Ubisense IS Tag meets the UL913 (HAZLOC) and ATEX intrinsic safety requirements applicable, respectively, to the United States and European Union. Using the new IS Tag, the Ubisense Plant Access Manager RTLS safety solution can locate personnel and equipment in emergency situations, ensuring employee safety during evacuation, and pinpointing individuals who may be trapped or in need of assistance. S3 ID, a maker of oil and gas personnel location software, says it plans to incorporate IS Tags in the mustering, tracking and hazard preparedness solutions it provides to its customers, such as BP, Shell and Statoil. "S3 ID views the Ubisense RTLS as a key part of personnel mustering systems in challenging environments," said S3 ID's CEO, Derek Gennard, in a prepared statement. "We have been successfully testing this product for the past two years within our systems, in a variety of applications, and will be using it in a number of solutions for well-known petrochemical organizations." In February 2009, Ubisense and S3 ID teamed up on an integrated location-awareness and mustering system that leverages Ubisense's UWB technology and is designed for the oil and gas industry (see RFID News Roundup: Ubisense, S3-ID Partner on RTLS for Oil and Gas Industry).

TrigPoint Provides RFID-based Safety Solution for Drilling Contractor
TrigPoint Solutions has announced that North America's third-largest oil and natural gas drilling contractor will utilize TrigPoint's RFID-enabled PROMPTT system to automate rig- and field-based employee time and attendance, as well as behavioral observation. The system will also be used to automatically perform a job safety analysis (JSA) and help ensure compliance with customer business policies, procedures and controls associated with asset tracking, maintenance and certification. PROMPTT combines RFID, ruggedized mobile handheld terminals, interactive end-user applications and mobile integration, to link both assets and workforce to PROMPTT's back-end software or any other enterprise application. TrigPoint indicates it is not at liberty to disclose the name of the drilling contractor, but in a prepared statement, the contractor's director of health, safety and environment (HSE) and human resources (HR), said, "From a cost, risk and efficiency perspective, it makes little sense to track, manage and record our employees' shift times, meal breaks, behavioral and working environment observations, and job safety analyses through paper-based or manual entry systems. TrigPoint's PROMPTT system automates our HSE and HR processes on a rig or in other field operations. We now have an efficient and timely system to record payroll information and to manage our employee's time in a manner that ensures compliance with state and federal laws. The system also helps provide a safer working environment for our workforce, mitigates risk and significantly reduces costs." TrigPoint's handheld terminal is designed to prompt the user on what to do and how to do it while recording each action. According to TrigPoint, when a worker utilizes the handheld to log on to start a shift (by scanning his individual RFID badge, containing a passive 13.56 MHz tag complying with the ISO 15693 standard), the system manages his time by prompting him for his first meal break, monitoring his current shift for compliance to the relevant wage and work hour regulations, and providing a complete summary of the total hours worked, meals breaks and any potential penalties that may apply. When a rig or field worker encounters behavior that may involve risk or a potential hazard, he can use the handheld to record details of that situation. When a JSA is required, the user can select the applicable JSA, record the resources required and who may be involved, modify the steps if necessary and, finally, record the JSA's completion. Most importantly, TrigPoint reports, the PROMPTT software collects all data immediately, so that managers can interview, deliberate and take action to provide immediate feedback, ensuring all rigs, yards and personnel are completely current and can adhere to the latest safety standards. The company has worked on other projects with drilling companies, including a project with Nabors Canada, a land-drilling product and services provider. Nabors Canada is using PROMPTT to help it maintain and manage the equipment on its drill rigs, located at oil and gas wells across Canada (see Drilling Company Taps RFID Benefits.)

HID Global Intros Passive Tag for Waste Management
HID Global, a manufacturer of secure identity solutions, has introduced a new RFID tag designed for tracking metal containers, particularly those used in the medical, chemical and hazardous waste industries. The Bin Tag OM features a passive transponder, the firm reports, and has been specially designed to perform well on metal. It can be mounted on containers of all shapes and sizes, as well as on plastic bins. Tags such as the Bin Tag OM integrate a unique ID number that is registered by an RFID interrogator typically installed on a waste or recycling vehicle. When an RFID-equipped waste or recycling container is lifted and read, that data can be used for monitoring, sorting and tracking, as well as for determining weight and other information. It comes in two versions; the Unique tag, which operates at 125 kHz and employs a proprietary air-interface protocol, and the BDE tag, which operates at 134.2 kHz and supports the ISO 11785 standard and the EN14803 directive regulating the requirements for methods of identifying waste containers and determining waste quantity. Both versions are encased in plastic and can operate in temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to +90 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees to +194 degrees Fahrenheit). The tags are also highly resistant to aggressive liquids encountered in waste-management applications, HID Global notes, such as salt water and mineral or motor oils. "This is a rapidly changing time for the waste-management industry. At no point has interest in reducing waste and increasing recycling been greater than now," said Brad Jarvis, HID Global's VP of product marketing, in a prepared statement. "Municipalities and operators need to improve services and cut costs. Our RFID solutions are enabling them to deliver new and higher levels of service for their residential and commercial customers. When it comes to reducing waste, increasing efficiencies and maximizing revenues, RFID solutions are playing a central role."

Toledo Ticket, TransCore Launch RFID-based Hangtags for Parking, Access Control
Ohio-based Toledo Ticket Co. a provider of specialty tickets, and TransCore, a maker of transportation-based RFID transponders, have jointly developed an RFID-based hangtag for wireless access control at the entry and exit points of parking facilities. The hangtag leverages a 915 MHz transponder that complies with the ISO 18000-6B standard. The partnership, the two companies indicate, is aimed at expanding RFID's use within the parking and security access-control industry by leveraging Toledo Ticket's market reach of products in all 50 U.S. states and more than 30 countries, as well as TransCore's RFID engineering expertise. By leveraging RFID in payment tolls, vehicles can enter and exit parking garages virtually without stopping, keeping access smooth and back-ups limited. Moreover, the resulting reduced idle times can decrease carbon emission output on a consistent basis. An estimated 25 to 30 percent decrease in idle times is possible utilizing RFID-based technology, the two firms report. "An RFID hangtag has tremendous marketability. For professional sports teams or universities that cater to season ticket holders or semester-oriented parking patrons, they can even make them collectibles," said Tom Carter, Toledo Ticket's VP, in a prepared statement. "This type of wireless communication that triggers a gate to open will speed throughput at entry and exit, reduce a facility's carbon footprint by minimizing vehicles backing up, increase personal safety and avoid inclement weather by eliminating the need to roll down a car window. It's portable, and overall enhances the customer convenience. Customers can now extend the life cycle use of their hangtag over several years." Exclusively manufactured and marketed by Toledo Ticket, the hangtags are available now, can be customized and include fade-proof digital or offset printing that resists heat, cold and sunlight, without curling or breaking. They are manufactured using high-density three-ply Teslin, and can include holographic overlays and UV-sensitive printing; consecutive numbering available in any color, as well as double-sided numbering; and a full range of colors and finishes. Bar codes, masks and magnetic stripes are also available, the company reports, as are a variety of stock sizes. Pricing will be based on volume and printing requirements.

VizBee Announces Availability of RTLS Platform
Paris-based RFID startup VizBee is bringing its RFID-based real-time location system (RTLS) platform to market. VizBee's platform is a fully integrated solution that includes all RFID software and hardware, such as tags, receivers, exciters and repeaters, necessary for an RFID implementation. According to the company, it is designed to make it easier for companies to leverage RFID, and to eliminate the need for custom-designed projects that often require significant man-hours of coding and development. The platform can work with a variety of active and passive RFID tags—including Wi-Fi and ultra-wideband (UWB)—and in the same implementation. It also works with various sensors. VizBee indicates it will work with hardware partners to provide the most reliable integration with receivers, tags and other relevant components, and that it will test all components with the platform. The VizBee platform includes a multi-lingual interface that is map-driven and provides a comprehensive visual overview of system status at any given time. What's more, the platform comes with numerous application programming interfaces (APIs) designed to enable integration with third-party applications, such as e-mail, SMS text messaging, video surveillance and access control. It has a rule engine that uses parameters to set complex security and management rules, and can create interactive relationships between different domains of the same application. These parameters can be set at any time by a system administrator, and requires no coding or software expertise. It also includes a macro engine enabling the development of customized functions that remain fully independent from VizBee's core system. The platform is designed to scale so that it can be utilized to monitor thousands of tags affixed to people or assets in real time, as well as determine their location and other parameters, such as movement, tampering, verticality, temperature and humidity.

Humber River Hospital Selects Versus RTLS to Improve Patient Flow
The Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH) has selected a real-time location system (RTLS) from Versus Technology to help improve patient flow in the emergency room departments at the hospital's two locations, in Weston and Downsview, Ontario. Between the two sites, HRRH operates approximately 550 in-patient beds. The hospital's specific focus for the RTLS deployment, according to Versus Technology, is on reducing ER wait times, which currently average between 15.8 and 17.0 hours for complex conditions, and 3.9 hours for minor or uncomplicated conditions. Versus RTLS tags transmit infrared (IR) signals, as well as RFID as a back-up solution, in the event that the IR signal is blocked or not operating properly. When a tag's IR signal, emitted every three seconds, is received by the IR reader within that location, the reader transmits its own ID number, along with that of the tag, to the Versus software. Users can then view a display on a hospital computer monitor showing a map of the facility, and see an icon indicating in which room the tagged person or item is currently located. If the tag's IR signal is not being received (if, for example, a blanket is covering the tag and its infrared beacon), the RFID system provides a backup—the tag emits a 433 MHz RFID signal, which also beacons every three seconds, using a proprietary air-interface protocol. HRRH's selection of a patient flow management system was spurred by Canada's Ministry of Health and Long-term Care Performance Goals, established in 2008, Versus Technology reports. These goals challenge hospitals to improve their ER patient flow management processes. In turn, the Ministry of Health provides funds to support hospital improvements that help patients obtain more timely care. Versus Technology's RTLS will provide real-time patient locating at each facility, as well as track key metrics such as Total Length of Stay, based on patient acuity to facilitate easy reporting of patient wait times to the Ministry of Health. The automatic collection of patient-location data, Versus Technology explains, will relieve employees of the "busy work" associated with keeping up with each patient's individual progress, such as when the patient is taken to diagnostic imaging, and when that individual returns. With this situational awareness, the company notes, the patient's status as relayed to caregivers is timelier, and "next stage" events can be triggered automatically, based on patient status. The real-time locating system will also be integrated with HRRH's Meditech system, so that the RTLS can receive patient registration data and update the Meditech whiteboards in real time. Meditech is a system used to capture, store and display administrative and clinical data.
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