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RFID News Roundup

Zebra intros new RFID printer-encoder for advanced item-level tagging; IDTronic intros new products to its UHF portfolio; Xerafy, Access Solutions team up on RFID solution for power generation, aviation industries; Pramari partners with UbiU to expand into the Asian RFID market; Lisbon Airport selects Alien Tags for baggage tracking; SensingTEK unveils RFID-enabled diaper for use in hospitals and health-care facilities.
Aug 12, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Zebra Intros New RFID Printer-Encoder for Advanced Item-Level Tagging
Zebra Technologies has announced a new RFID printer-encoder designed to address RFID market for high-volume item-level tagging, asset tracking, inventory management and more across retail, manufacturing, health-care and distribution channels. The RXi4 is a UHF EPC Gen 2 printer-encoder that features new adaptive encoding technology that enables the printer to auto-configure to the inlay and enables the variable inlay placement feature. Typically, RFID printer-encoders have a very stringent specification as to where to the place the inlay in the label, to ensure the encoding of only one tag a time. This placement specification is also very specific to inlays. Once media are converted for particular inlays and printers, Zebra says, it is very difficult to use them on other printers. Zebra's printer-encoders, the company explains, always had the ability to do this through a complex printer configuration command. Thanks to the variable inlay placement feature, however, the RXi4 detects the location of the inlay as it is fed through the printer and then adjusts the power and encoding position without any user intervention. This ability enables RXi4 to accept media that have been converted for another make and model of printer. The RXi4 also features Zebra's on-pitch capability, first introduced with the RZ400 printer-encoder, which enables the printing and encoding of small tags very close together with a distance as narrow as 16 millimeter (0.6 inch). By spacing inlays closer together, label converters use less material, resulting in a lower cost per label, fewer media roll changes and faster printer-encoder throughput, according to Zebra. Printing and encoding inlays with a 16-millimeter pitch is very difficult within a printer, which is a very unfriendly RF environment and cannot be done by many printer-encoders available on the market today. For most other printer-encoders on the market, users needed to specify the spacing from inlay to inlay to ensure proper encoding within the printer. This spacing, depending on printer model, could be as great as 50 millimeters, resulting in fewer inlays per roll with increased liner waste. The cost of converting these labels could be up to 10 percent greater than being able to convert them with inlays on their native pitch. The RXi4 is available in the United States and Canada, with global availability scheduled for late third quarter of 2010. List price for the 200-dpi version starts at $4,495.

IDTronic Intros New Products to Its UHF Portfolio
IDTronic, an RFID hardware provider based in Germany, has introduced two new tags to its portfolio of UHF products, which leverage Alien Technology Higgs 3 inlays, compliant with EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6 C standards, and operate at 868 to 916 MHz. The ruggedized HardTag UHF 155 measures 155 by 32 by 9 millimeters, and, according to IDTronic, is ideal for logistics, warehouse and supply chain applications. It can be attached to pallets and boxes via standard mounting holes, and its ABS housing is ultrasonic sealed and has an IP65 rating, which means it is protected against dust and low-pressure jets of water from all directions. The new IDTronic FlexTag UHF measures 115 by 20 by 6 millimeters and is made of flexible PVC material so that it can be attached to difficult areas such as windshields or waste bins. The tag is equipped with a 3M adhesive layer and two standard mounting holes.

Xerafy, Access Solutions Team Up on RFID Solution for Power Generation, Aviation Industries
RFID tag manufacturer Xerafy, headquartered in Hong Kong, has partnered with foreign material exclusion (FME) specialist, Access Solutions to integrate Xerafy's EPC Gen 2 RFID-on-metal (ROM) tags with Access Solutions' FME S.T.A.R.trac, an RFID control system for automating FME processes. The integrated solution will enable generation and aviation organizations to track objects with real-time visibility data and prevent foreign object damage (FOD), the two companies say. By embedding Xerafy RFID tags in tools and parts, foreign object detection will be more seamless and error resistant, and provides an extra level of security to detect a stray tool in power generation equipment or an aircraft engine that wouldn't have been located otherwise, the companies explain. "Xerafy has the smallest ROM tags, which allows them to be easily attached to or embedded in various types of tools. Our RFID tags enable the automation of tool management that delivers inventory control, maximizes productivity and increases operational efficiencies," Xerafy's CEO, Dennis Khoo, said in a prepared statement. "Xerafy's form factor," added Kelvin Mann, CEO of Access Solutions, "enables us to use our best practice tagging methodologies on a larger percent of the items used in critical work areas and the reliability of their tags supports our ability to deliver efficiency improvements to our customers."

Pramari Partners With UbiU to Expand into the Asian RFID Market
Pramari, a provider of open-source RFID software solutions, announced it has partnered with UbiU, an RFID solutions provider in South Korea. The partnership is aimed at expanding Primari's presence in the Asian and South Korean regions. UbiU says it expects to leverage Pramari's software for tracking customers, clothes and jewelry for inventory, management, and sales applications. "As the Korean RFID market is growing, so is the demand for middleware in various industries," UbiU sales manager Brian Son said in a prepared statement. "Many companies are reluctant to buy costly solutions and will find Pramari's open-source products very attractive. Middleware will soon become a must have in every RFID system. UbiU is actively promoting Pramari's Rifidi product and preparing sales activities." Pramari has been developing open-source RFID software solutions for over four years with the core focus being the Rifidi Platform. It launched a free version of its open-source Rifidi Edge Server, designed to manage EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogators and RFID reader data, as well as information from bar-code scanners, sensors and other hardware, in October 2009 (see Pramari Launches Free Open-Source RFID Middleware). In January 2010, Applied Wireless Identifications Group (AWID) and Pramari began are offering an asset-tracking solution that includes AWID EPC Gen 2 RFID readers and Pramari's Rifidi Edge Server (see Pramari, AWID Offer EPC Gen 2 System for Tracking Health-care Assets).

Lisbon Airport Selects Alien Tags for Baggage Tracking
Alien Technology announced that Portugal's Lisbon Airport has selected its EPC Gen 2 passive RFID inlays to track baggage as it moves through Lisbon's transfer baggage terminal. The airport is expected to use millions of Alien's Squiggle ALN-9640 inlays, which Alien says have passed the specifications and performance criteria set forth by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and are approved for airport baggage-tagging applications. According to Alien, the inlay's small footprint and ultra high performance make it ideal for baggage tagging installations. The airport's RFID usage started in December 2008 when the airport installed a new baggage-handling system (BHS) from Lyngsoe Systems (see Lisbon Airport Ups Throughput With RFID Baggage System). Limited baggage-handling capacity and increasing numbers of travelers were the key drivers that prompted the airport to redesign the baggage-handling system. An RFID-based baggage-tracking solution was ultimately selected to completely automate the baggage handling process, and to reduce baggage-handling errors by improving the read rates and efficiency of the luggage-tracking system throughout the BHS. Each piece of luggage in the transfer baggage terminal is now affixed with a luggage tag incorporating an Alien inlay. The Lisbon Airport had tried using several different RFID tags from various companies, and selected the ALN-9640 inlays because of its superior performance, says Victor Vega, Alien's marketing director.

SensingTEK Unveils RFID-enabled Diaper for Use in Hospitals and Health-care Facilities
SensingTEK, a provider of wireless sensor network solutions headquartered in Taiwan, has developed a new solution for the health-care market. Called the E-diaper Humidity Sensor (EDP100), the solution is a 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.15.4 ZigBee-based wireless transmitter connected with disposable humidity sensor wires that is designed to help nurses and others more easily take care of patients, the elderly, and children that must wear diapers. Typically, nurses and other caregivers have to regularly and manually check patients' diapers. In an installation, the ZigBee transmitters are placed in various locations on a hospital floor, and they cull data from the humidity sensor wires affixed to the back of diapers worn by the patients. The sensors do not contact human skin, and have a battery life of up to one year, according to SensingTEK. The transmitters then send the data to SensingTEK's software, Datacenter, which records each diaper's relative humidity. Nurses can regularly access Datacenter to check on the patient information, thus helping to prevent diaper rash and sores, and to improve patient comfort. The EDP100 also includes a wireless emergency button, which patients can press to send out a distress signal to notify nurses. The EDP100 will be available worldwide; several customers are currently testing the solution, according to Nikki Yang with SensingTEK.
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