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RFID News Roundup

Imation, RFID Global Solution partner on tracking solution for IT assets; GS1 US delivers white paper on Global Visibility Framework; IBM intros wireless sensor development kit, teams with MEMSIC; Mercy Hospital cites success with RFID-enabled hand-washing system; energy-harvesting active RFID development kit; N.J., N.Y. transit agencies launch joint MasterCard contactless payment pilot.
Jun 10, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Imation, RFID Global Solution Partner on Tracking Solution for IT Assets
Imation, a provider of data-storage solutions, has partnered with RFID Global Solution, which offers real-time visibility solutions, on an integrated, RFID-enabled asset-tracking system designed to help companies locate and secure IT assets in real time. Imation's DataGuard rf solution, used for tracking data tapes by IT organizations, will be complemented by RFID Global Solution's Visi-Trac IT-asset tracking software, to help organizations secure and track IT assets, including data-storage tape. DataGuard rf technology, designed to replace traditional bar-code-based tracking systems, features secure labels that incorporate ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID inlays with Imation's custom-designed antenna. The labels can be affixed to tape cartridges and other assets, and offer a read range of up to 6 feet for a single cartridge and up to 2 feet for a case of 20. The DataGuard rf system includes a Motorola 9090G handheld interrogator, which can read a label's embedded RFID inlay, as well as any bar-coding printed on a label. Now compatible with Visi-Trac software, the DataGuard rf system is part of a full security solution, the two companies report. Visi-Trac is an enterprise-wide platform designed to capture data from a variety of RFID and sensor technologies, including active and passive RFID, ultra-wideband (UWB), GPS, bar-code and temperature-sensor technologies, and then map that information in a variety of dashboard applications. Built on Microsoft's BizTalk Server, Visi-Trac enables businesses to create zones for location tracking, as well as set alerts that can be sent out via e-mail, SMS text-messaging and other alerting options if a particular asset crosses a zone. In addition to zone tracking, the software's mapping functions also support chokepoint read capabilities. "Businesses face the increasingly complex challenges of ensuring compliance with stringent regulatory requirements and protecting their company data against possible security breaches," said William Qualls, Imation's global director for magnetic tape, in a prepared statement. "Now, by teaming with RFID Global Solution, Inc., Imation can offer an even more comprehensive and customizable RFID system, one that can be fully integrated into an IT or data center security infrastructure using Visi-Trac software."

IBM Intros Wireless Sensor Development Kit, Teams With MEMSIC
IBM has introduced its Mote Runner software development kit (SDK), designed to make wireless sensor networks easier to program and exploit, and to connect sensor and actuator motes within a wireless sensor network (WSN). Motes—also known as wireless sensor nodes—gather sensory information, such as temperature, movement or light, and communicate that data across a network of wireless sensors. Invented by IBM scientists in Zurich, Mote Runner is a high-performance, low-footprint platform that, according to the company, is portable to a range of mote hardware, is programmable in standard object-oriented programming languages, and includes development and integration tooling. IBM has also announced a contract with MEMSIC, a supplier of inertial sensor systems, sensor components and wireless sensors, to offer one of its most popular sensors with Mote Runner. Under the terms of the deal, MEMSIC will bundle its IRIS wireless sensor motes with Mote Runner. The hardware and software combination, according to the two companies, will provide organizations with a low-cost sensor and open, portable and developer-friendly software. "Mote Runner on MEMSIC IRIS motes is a wireless sensor network in a box," said Thorsten Kramp, a computer scientist and the developer of Mote Runner at IBM Research - Zurich, in a prepared statement. "The combination of MEMSIC's popular IRIS mote with Mote Runner makes developing for and operating a wireless sensor network easy and straightforward." The MEMSIC IRIS is a 2.4 GHz wireless sensor mote used for enabling low-power wireless sensor networks, such as monitoring the temperature and electricity in a high-rise office building, or traffic patterns at a busy intersection. Sets comprising Mote Runner on MEMSIC motes can be ordered via all MEMSIC distribution and sales channels, beginning in July 2010. To encourage exploration, the Mote Runner SDK is available free of charge for non-commercial use to universities and students, and as a 90-day evaluation trial for corporate users on IBM's alphaWorks Web site.

GS1 US Delivers White Paper on Global Visibility Framework
GS1 US, the U.S. branch of international standards-setting organization GS1, has announced a new white paper designed to help companies understand how they can improve business processes through global supply chain standards. The document details how organizations can see and act on information in the supply chain using the GS1 US Global Visibility Framework, and how businesses can utilize GS1 standards-based solutions and services to identify items, capture information through bar coding and EPC-enabled RFID, and share that data with trading partners in a common way. The new white paper addresses a number of topics, including what visibility means to businesses, the value of visibility, how organizations can build a foundation for visibility, and which processes, technologies and standards are appropriate. The paper uses examples of how companies in a number of industries have applied technologies to improve their visibility and supply chain operations, but also shows that other firms still have far to go in maximizing their visibility. "We've observed that companies typically take advantage of only about 50 percent of the potential visibility offered by GS1 standards, and frequently don't even know the full breadth of the standards that they already use," said Bob Carpenter, GS1 US's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Many of the 200,000-plus American companies actively using global GS1 standards often don't know the scope of the standards' full capabilities." The Global Visibility Framework will also serve as the foundation of a new cross-industry educational initiative that includes community outreach activities, as well as a series of webinars, conference presentations, solution road maps, "best practices" articles and industry white papers. For more information about the Global Visibility Framework, or to download the white paper, visit www.gs1us.org/visibility.

Mercy Hospital Cites Success With RFID-enabled Hand-Washing System
Mercy Hospital, a 271-bed hospital that serves the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, has reported that it has completed more than 10,000 hand washes using an RFID-enabled touchless hand-washing system from Resurgent Health and Medical. Resurgent Health and Medical's CleanTech system has an RFID interrogator that identifies a caregiver's RFID badge and then records the date and time, as well as the beginning and end of the wash cycle (see RFID Debuts as Hand-Washing Compliance Officer). Mercy installed the system in December 2009, and it is now used by 78 hospital employees. According to Resurgent Health and Medical, the system clocked the 10,000 hand-washes mark in May 2010, following six months of operation, leading to a significant reduction in hospital-acquired infections.

Energy-Harvesting Active RFID Development Kit
AdaptivEnergy, a manufacturer of energy-harvesting power supply solutions, has partnered with Jennic, a fabless semiconductor company, and Micropelt, a maker of thermoelectric elements, to offer alternative energy solutions for active RFID tag applications. The three firms indicate the kit is designed to offset associated costs and risks inherent with battery-powered devices. The kit includes a programmable USB dongle ("receiver") and a programmable standalone transmitter ("tag"), each of which contains a JN-5148 wireless microcontroller preloaded with Jennic's Active RFID reference design firmware. The tag is affixed to a sensor board, with power provided from either a vibration-based or thermal-based energy-harvesting platform (the AdaptivEnergy Ground Transport Module and Micropelt TE Power-NODE, respectively). The tag utilizes a broadcast mode to periodically transmit its data. In the Energy Harvesting Active RFID Development Kit, the tag sends temperature and other data to the receiver, which also acts as a gateway to a PC-based user interface. In a field-deployed application, the tags can roam between readers without energy penalty, while readers can be networked together using Jennic's own JenNet protocol stack. The 64-bit MAC ID number of each tag allows the unique identification of goods on business premises, or throughout the supply chain. The kit leverages Jennic's asset-tracking platform, which employs IEEE 802.15.4 technology to provide an active RFID solution with low power requirements. The kit can be used as a standalone evaluation and development tool, or in conjunction with Jennic's JN-5148-based products in existing active RFID applications. The Energy Harvesting Active RFID Development Kit is scheduled to begin shipping in mid-June, and will be available worldwide at Mouser Electronics.

N.J., N.Y. Transit Agencies Launch Joint MasterCard Contactless Payment Pilot
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PATH), NJ Transit (NJT) and MasterCard Worldwide have announced the launch of a six-month pilot program in which MasterCard's RFID-enabled PayPass credit and debit cards will be accepted for fare payments on select train and bus routes throughout New York City and New Jersey. Riders of the three transit systems will be able to purchase fares and transfer between transit systems simply by tapping a contactless credit or debit card on specially equipped payment readers installed on select turnstiles and bus fare boxes. The trial, which will take place from June 1 to Nov. 30 of this year, is the first payment system to link the transit agencies, replacing the need for riders to carry specific fare cards for three separate transit systems, the companies report. That means, for example, that commuters transferring from a PATH train to the New York City subway will require only one type of payment device for each ride, the firms indicate—their MasterCard PayPass card or key fob. All MasterCard PayPass cards and fobs will be accepted from any issuing financial institution. Using their MasterCard PayPass or other contactless payment-enabled card or device, riders will be able to choose a "pre-fund" or "pay-as-you-go" fare option, and those traveling on MTA and NJT services can take advantage of existing time-based fares, such as one-day, weekly, biweekly or monthly passes, in addition to discounted fares for senior citizens, as well as disabled and student riders. All fares purchased using PayPass will be automatically applied to customers' MasterCard credit or debit accounts. Multiple bus and train routes across New York City and New Jersey will participate in the trial, including subway locations on the Lexington Avenue train line (4, 5 and 6) from 138th Street in the Bronx through Borough Hall in Brooklyn, eight MTA bus routes (M14, M23, M79, M86, M101, M102, M103 and BXM7), 11 PATH stations (excluding the Christopher and 9th Street stations) and three NJ TRANSIT bus routes (6, 80 and 87). The trial program is an extension of a contactless payment pilot conducted by MTA with MasterCard and Citigroup, that began in July 2006 (see RFID to Ride N.Y. Subways).
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