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RFID News Roundup

Great Wolf Lodge debuts RFID-enabled social-media app; Ekahau, Nordic ID team up on Wi-Fi and passive RFID asset-tracking solution; Positek adopts Tagsys' new UHF tag for the textile market; IT Asset Management Solutions adds RF Code's Physical IT asset-tracking solution to its portfolio; Russian high-tech firms, retailer partner on RFID project, Store of the Future; ABI Research estimates RFID software market to reach $500 million by 2016.
IT Asset Management Solutions Adds RF Code's IT Asset-Tracking Solution to Its Portfolio
RF Code, an RFID firm and IT asset-management solutions provider, has announced a partnership with IT Asset Management Solutions (ITAMS), a consulting and technology provider in the IT and software asset and service management industry. According to the two companies, the alliance aims to provide joint customers with solutions for real-time tracking of high-value IT assets, such as laptops and servers. RF Code offers a portfolio of active RFID-enabled infrastructure, including tags and readers, for both real-time asset management and environmental monitoring across an entire enterprise, as well as software to support that infrastructure. In March 2011, for example, RF Code added the R160 Air Pressure Sensor—a wireless sensor designed to measure differential air pressure and enable data-center operators to monitor changes in air pressure, in order to determine optimal cooling strategies—to its lineup (see RFID News Roundup: RF Code Announces Wireless Air-Pressure Sensor). The sensor's built-in 433 MHz active RFID tag periodically reports its unique ID number, along with the air-pressure data, and is designed for use in conjunction with an RF Code fixed reader infrastructure. "Clients tell us that IT asset management has been a good investment for them because it helps to meet critical corporate governance and compliance requirements, as well as provide core asset control," said Stephane Jansem, ITAMS's managing partner, in a prepared statement. "Clients are looking at ways to benefit more from the IT asset management platforms that are already in place. For organizations that have already made an investment in IT asset management, the addition of RF Code's active RFID-based solutions provides real-time asset visibility with a minimal additional investment. For instance, using RF Code's active RFID technology, the systems can feed asset movement data into a barrier control system to alert operators if a tracked device is leaving a site without authorization. RF Code offers the most flexible, open and cost-effective active RFID platform to complement our solutions."

Russian High-Tech Firms, Retailer Partner on RFID Project, Store of the Future
Rusnano, the Russian government's investment fund for nanotechnologies—in conjunction with Sitronics, a high-tech company in Eastern Europe operating in the field of telecommunications solutions, information technologies, system integration, consulting, and the development and manufacture of microelectronics products, and the X5 Retail Group, one of Russia's largest retail companies—has announced plans to launch the Store of the Future, a research and development (R&D) project aimed at creating nano-enabled solutions for introducing and exploiting RFID technology in Russia's retail industry. If successful in its development work, the project will establish a company-integrator to introduce RFID technology to the domestic retail trade. The project has a starting budget totaling 350 million rubles ($12.6 million), with investment divided equally among the three participants over a span of two years. In 2013, assuming the technology has been developed successfully, the project will open Russia's first model grocery store for the future. X5 Retail Group will provide the platform for the project, which will also develop sector standards—prerequisites for changing the regulatory and legal framework for retail production and trade. According to Karina Abagyan, the marketing director of Sitronics' Microelectronics group, RFID technology is not yet widely used in the Russian retail sector. The project will provide an R&D mechanism for testing and introducing radio frequency identification, and various RFID technologies will be considered. According to Abagyan, Microelectronics has a complete production chain, from IC design and production (180/90 nm technology on 8-foot wafers) to the assembling and personalization of cards and tags, as well as a laboratory for antenna development and testing. "We're going to test several standards and interfaces to work out the optimal solution for retail," she states. "Maybe some new interfaces and forms will be developed. We are to solve well-known problems with reading tags from metalized surfaces and liquid capacities, with simultaneous reading of products in trolleys, the high cost of tags, etc. If we develop such reliable and cost-effective integrated solutions, then its mass application in the retail segment will be possible." In a prepared statement, Andrey Malyshev, Rusnano's deputy CEO, indicated that the cost of RFID tags is the greatest barrier to their broad use in Russia. "Once RFID in retail trade begins on a large scale, the cost of the tags will decline and RFID will be extended to other economic sectors. With project success, Russia will become another large market for RFID tags, and that will give Russian microelectronics producers the opportunity to enter an arena where sales are forecast at up to 50 billion tags per year," Malyshev added in the statement.

ABI Research Estimates RFID Software Market to Reach $500 Million by 2016
RFID software continues to grow in uptake, according to the latest forecasts from ABI Research, a market research firm focused on wireless technologies. RFID software revenues are set to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 20 percent through 2016, the firm reports, and are expected to reach $500 million by that time. "RFID is proving its value across a wide range of verticals, from automotive to retail to health care," said Bill Arnold, ABI Research's principal analyst, in a prepared statement. "RFID tags and readers may capture real-time data, but it takes software packages to make that data useful to the organization. RFID-focused software revenue should approach $500 million in 2016." ABI Research identifies two key classes for RFID software: platform and line-of-business (LOB). Platform software handles the raw information, ABI Research explains, and hands it off to other relevant software systems, such as accounting, reporting or resource-management systems, whereas LOB software enables specific activities, such as warehouse operations, inventory management, or other daily operational tasks—generally at a departmental level, as opposed to across an entire organization. The LOB software category is growing more rapidly overall, the firm reports, and is becoming much easier to configure. ABI Research notes that if it were matched with an appropriate RFID platform, many costly integration discussions of the past would no longer apply. "The software has to be both hardware- and technology-agnostic," Arnold added in the statement. "Getting it to this level of application specificity has been challenging and has required intense, constant investment in enhancing the software's capabilities; all while average prices continue to decline." The analysis is part of ABI Research's "RFID System Software for Business Optimization" study that tracks the evolution of RFID software over the past five years, and offers revenue forecasts for the next five. It defines and explores the concept of platforms, and explains how potential customers evaluate RFID software packages and vendors. The report includes international survey results, and is part of the firm's RFID Research Service. In the "RFID System Software for Business Optimization" study, ABI Research identifies several RFID software providers, including Xterprise, Checkpoint Systems, InSync Software, S3Edge and more.

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