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RFID News Roundup

McCarran International Airport updates RFID-enabled baggage-handling system; Avery Dennison, Signbox partner on smart-poster system; IDTronic announces NFC mobile-phone sticker; Terso Solutions teams up with Hubspan on cloud-based RFID; Nedap intros dual UHF RFID and NFC handheld device; Enso SmartPack acquires RF-iT Solutions; University of Minnesota adopts RFID to promote biking.
Nedap Intros Dual UHF RFID and NFC Handheld Device
Nedap Retail, a manufacturer of security and management solutions for retailers, has announced the ID Hand, a handheld RFID device capable of reading both passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPCglobal Gen 2 tags and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags. Designed for retail stores, ID Hand is a lightweight mobile scanner—weighing 250 grams (8.8 ounces), and measuring 35 centimeters by 10 centimeters by 4 centimeters (13.8 inches by 3.9 inches by 1.6 inches)—designed to enable staff members to manage store inventory. The device features one-button operation; to activate the reader, a user can press the button or simply shake the device, and a vibration motor and beeper will confirm every performed scan. The NFC functionality is used to authenticate users who simply swipe an NFC-enabled card (or, Nedap reports, it could theoretically be used for NFC-enabled mobile payments). ID Hand can be utilized in combination with mobile-computing devices and smartphones, including Microsoft Windows CE devices and Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads (via Bluetooth connectivity). For all platforms, an open application-programming interface (API) enables retailers and third-party integrators to make their own applications, based on the handheld reader. ID Hand is also available with an optional, integrated bar-code scanner. The device's standard color is white, though it can also be ordered in any color requested by a customer. The ID Hand is priced at approximately $1,780 without a bar-code scanner, and about $2,055 with such a scanner. It is currently available throughout Europe, the company reports, and will be marketed in other regions beginning in 2012. Nedap has also announced that it has signed a deal with Desigual, a Spanish fashion brand and retailer. Under the terms of the deal, Nedap will equip all of Desigual's branded stores with its electronic RF/RFID technology designed to prevent theft. The agreement covers equipping all future Desigual stores, as well as removing all currently installed electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems, which will be replaced by Nedap security gates supporting both RF EAS and RFID functionality.

Enso SmartPack Acquires RF-iT Solutions
Startup Enso SmartPack, a smart-packaging solutions provider headquartered in Austria, has announced that it has acquired RFID vendor RF-iT Solutions, also based in that country. According to Enso SmartPack, the acquisition is regarded as an important step toward accelerating the company's development. RF-iT Solutions provides RFID hardware and software, such as middleware that connects RFID devices to systems, as part of its detego suite. RF-iT also offers technology consulting, sales support, software development activities and services to its business partners. Kevin Lewis, Enso SmartPack's director, says his company is still developing and beta-testing its solutions that leverage RFID. "We started over a year ago," he states. "We prefer to keep low-key until we finish our field trials. It is going well, and we are accelerating. We approached RF-iT to discuss a potential project. During our initial meeting, it was clear that RF-IT was a perfect fit." In the near term, he notes, there will be little change to RF-iT's operations. Alexander Gauby, RF-iT Solutions' founder and CEO, will continue to run RF-iT. "We like RF-iT's team, technology and the region of Austria where the office is located," Lewis says. "Basically, what they do, they do very well. We plan to leverage their strengths to accelerate our ongoing initiatives."

University of Minnesota Adopts RFID to Promote Biking
The University of Minnesota has begun installing the RFID-enabled Dero Zap system in order to reward the approximately 6,500 students and employees who currently bicycle to and across campus, and to encourage others to do the same. The solution, manufactured by Dero Bike Racks, a Minneapolis, Minn., manufacturer of racks and other bike-storage systems, is designed to encourage commuters to decrease driving and take up alternative transportation, by providing organizations with a way to track, encourage and reward commuting by bicycle (see RFID System Tracks Trips, Fringe Benefits, for Bike Commuters). With Dero Zap, the company reports, organizations can employ a Web-based interface to enroll participants and register a unique RFID tag to each rider. The tamper-proof passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags, compliant with the EPC Gen 2/ISO 18000-6c standard, are attached to the spokes of a bike's front wheels, while solar-powered Zap stations, mounted on steel poles, contain RFID readers that identify registered bicycles from up to 30 feet away. When an enrolled cyclist rides into a Zap station's zone, the unit acknowledges that person's arrival with an audible beep and a flashing light. The Zap unit records the arrival and transmits that data wirelessly to a central Web server. Administrators can then access the information online, the company explains, in order to tally bicycle commuter arrivals, determine eligibility for bike commuting incentives, and calculate rewards. The data also supports analysis of bicyclists' transportation patterns. The University of Minnesota is installing 20 RFID-enabled Dero Zap units at its Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, with one unit centrally located at the school's new Campus Bike Center. "Until now, everything has been based on the honor system, and organizations don't typically offer incentives for results based on the honor system," said Steve Sanders, the bike coordinator for the university's parking and transportation services, in a prepared statement. "Implementing this technology solution is our way to confirm that people are actually using their bikes and then reward them."

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