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RFID News Roundup

Trimble introduces ThingMagic Mercury6 RFID reader; Xerafy unveils new X II metal-mount RFID tags; National Instruments expands its wireless sensor platform; RFM announces battery-operated Wi-Fi sensor modem; Deutsche Telekom plans mobile wallet this year; European Supply Chain Institute adds NFC to RFID project for tracking carbon emissions.
RFM Announces Battery-Operated Wi-Fi Sensor Modem
RF Monolithics (RFM) has announced the first product from its machine-to-machine (M2M) business initiative, announced last year, and the first of the company's RFM2M family of M2M Wireless Sensor Network Platform building-block products. M2M applications allow for wireless data communication between machines and/or devices, and interconnected M2M networks and products can be used with, for example, machinery that works on building cars, monitoring systems such as utility meters, or updating digital billboards. RFM's new SN802GRC is a battery-operated Wi-Fi sensor modem with resistance temperature detection (RTD), current transformer and switch contact inputs. The combination of RTD and current transformer, RFM reports, makes the SN802GRC suitable for air conditioning, heating and refrigeration applications. Utilizing the company's WSN802G low-power Wi-Fi module, the SN802GRC enables customers to take advantage of existing 802.11b/g/n infrastructure to deliver data to the Internet and local networks. It has up to 10 years of battery life, according to RFM, and can be configured remotely or through an RS-232C serial port, to automatically report on timed intervals or on sensor readings exceeding thresholds, thus removing the need for applications to request data from each sensor modem. All of the RFM2M platform's building-block products are being designed in a modular format, RFM reports, in order to allow easy customization in terms of both the sensors supported and the wireless technology used. The product family will allow the use of Wi-Fi, ZigBee, 802.15.4, WirelessHART, and both 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequency-hopping spread-spectrum wireless technologies, and will be unbranded, allowing solution providers to add their own brands. In addition to its ongoing development of sensor modems, the company is now creating a family of RFM2M gateways. RFM has also announced a new microsite, www.RFM2M.com, which it says is dedicated to RFM's M2M wireless sensor networking product platform. "We are excited to announce the first member of our RFM2M product family," said Tim Cutler, RFM's director of M2M business development, in a prepared statement. "Using our very low-power Wi-Fi module provides extraordinary battery life which reduces deployment and maintenance expenses. Also, tying into existing Wi-Fi networks further reduces costs and simplifies deployment as Wi-Fi networks are not only widely deployed but also are well understood and accepted by IT departments."

Deutsche Telekom Plans Mobile Wallet This Year
Deutsche Telekom has announced plans to bring an NFC-enabled "Mobile Wallet" to market in 2011, which the telecommunications company says will enable a cell phone to become a virtual wallet. With the Mobile Wallet, Deutsche Telekom's customers will be able to hold their cell phones up to an appropriate reading device in order to pay for goods, purchase tickets for events or regional passenger rail, or participate in bonus programs. Mobile Wallet will be usable for mobile payments, and will support both Deutsche Telekom's own services, as well as those of banks, transport companies, event organizers and other third parties. The Mobile Wallet will also support rewards, coupons and other bonus programs that are retailer-specific; these will be able to be stored within the Mobile Wallet. Deutsche Telekom says it will introduce solutions based on international security standards for payment services to keep the transactions safe. The security solutions will be integrated in the device, on the SIM card, and also on the mobile networks over which the data traverses. Additional security functions will also be included, such as the locking of applications and data in case of mobile theft or loss. The company indicates it will develop services for an international market. Through ISIS, a joint venture with AT&T and Verizon, Deutsche Telekom will create mobile-payment services for the United States (see Mobile Carriers Launch Venture to Aid Adoption of NFC in Phones). In Europe, Deutsche Telecom plans to offer the first of these NFC-based services this year, in Germany and Poland. In 2012, NFC services will be introduced in The Netherlands and the Czech Republic, the company notes, with more countries set to follow. "The area of payment systems is a major driver of growth for Deutsche Telekom. We have continuously invested in this business, and will continue to expand it—nationally and internationally," said Thomas Kiessling, Deutsche Telekom's chief product and innovation officer, in a prepared statement. "Not just mobile operators worldwide are working on solutions, but also Internet companies, banks and transportation companies. Customers, however, will not accept isolated solutions. They want to be able to pay as easily as they would in terms of cash or credit card. And with the Mobile Wallet, we can offer our customers convenient and secure mobile payment." Deutsche Telekom is already working with other mobile operators, such as Vodafone and O2, on a joint payment system in Germany known as mpass. A contactless ticket system for stadium access for the 2012 European Football Championship is being planned, and Deutsche Telekom is cooperating with two mobile operators and three banks in the Netherlands to bring a joint solution for mobile payment to market.

European Supply Chain Institute Adds NFC to RFID Project for Tracking Carbon Emissions
The European Supply Chain Institute's (ESCI) Supply Chain Carbon Council is adding Near Field Communications (NFC) high-frequency (HF) RFID technology to its ongoing efforts to study and test how radio frequency identification and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies, as well as supporting data-management technologies, can be used for tracking and managing carbon emissions throughout their supply chains (see RFID News Roundup: ESCI Supply Chain Carbon Council Promotes RFID). A number of companies are participating in the project, including NXP Semiconductors, Avery Dennison and Nordic ID. IS.Retail, a supply chain software, warehouse-management and RFID system solution and data-management provider, has also just recently come on board. The addition of NFC technology to the project is intended to address how carbon emissions information can be shared with consumers at the point of purchase. according to John Connors, ESCI's CEO. The premise, he says, is to layer on the NFC RFID technology to an EPC RFID chip that will be used to track environmental metrics associated with products as they are manufactured and distributed. While the EPC chip will be utilized to cull the metrics during manufacturing and distribution, the NFC chip will be used to provide information to consumers when the product is purchased. "The [EPC] RFID chip will get updated all the time, getting information about the carbon footprint throughout the supply chain," Connors explains. That information will then be stored within a centralized database, or data pool, and will include such elements as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and other core attributes, as well as an RFID Carbon Label containing the environmental impact data of that specific product. That NFC-based label can then be scanned by a consumer's NFC mobile phone. "This will help customers choose the most sustainable, environmentally friendly product," Connors states. Within the next six weeks, ESCI expects to be able to determine which products will be tagged; these, he says, will likely include a product manufactured and distributed in the United Kingdom, as well as a high-value product manufactured in China and distributed in Europe. The council is currently soliciting retail product manufacturers and retailers interested in participating in the project; information can be found here.

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