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RFID News Roundup

Zebra Technologies announces upgraded RTLS sensor, new UWB reader; Trimble upgrades ThingMagic Mercury6 to expand enterprise RFID capabilities; Alien Technology closes $15 million financing deal; SimpleNFC announces availability of NFC 'Like' stickers; advanced dual-interface memory from STMicroelectronics uses energy harvesting.
Nov 10, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Zebra Technologies Announces Upgraded RTLS Sensor, New UWB Reader
An upgraded real-time location systems (RTLS) sensor (RFID reader) and a new ultra-wideband (UWB) RTLS reader are now available from Zebra Technologies. The WhereLAN III is the company's third-generation RTLS sensor, which Zebra says provides 1-meter (3.3-foot) accuracy and addresses the requirements of a wide range of industries. For example, automobile manufacturers can achieve parking-spot-level accuracy for vehicle tracking, and factory personnel can pinpoint the location of racks and containers at all times, thereby minimizing factory-floor inventory. The WhereLAN III is the locating and messaging hub of Zebra's RTLS offering, based on the ISO 24730-2 RTLS standard. The sensor receives low-power signals emitted by Zebra's active RFID tags, known as WhereTags, up to a distance of 1,750 meters (5,741 feet). It employs advanced signal processing to determine the time-of-arrival of a WhereTag signal to sub-nanosecond resolution, which the company says results in up to 1-meter location accuracy. WhereLAN III delivers location and tag data to Zebra's Visibility Server Software (VSS) stack, which computes the location of tagged assets, and also provides tools for integrating RTLS data with customer and third-party applications. WhereLAN III features an IP 55 cast-aluminum enclosure, and can automatically configure and dynamically adjust to changing radio-frequency environments, while maintaining wireless time synchronization. The updated sensor includes a software-defined radio with digital signal processing and "Snap Shot" technology that, according to Zebra Technologies, more than doubles the location accuracy of previous sensor generations. Using optional Wi-Fi and revolutionary wireless time synchronization, WhereLAN III enables cable-free installations for both indoor and outdoor applications. The company engineered its WhereLAN III to be fully backward-compatible with previous generation of location sensors, thus allowing customers to use both generations together, the company reports. According to Zebra, Navis—a Zebra partner that supplies Zebra's WhereNet product family to the marine container-terminal industry—recently completed a terminal-wide installation of WhereLAN III as a beta-test at the Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT), in California, to track container movement across the terminal. WhereLAN III is available in the United States, Canada, Europe, Colombia, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

Zebra has also announced the availability of its Dart Ultra-Wideband (UWB) Vision Reader, an addition to the company's Dart UWB RTLS, designed for the location tracking of personnel and equipment in indoor and outdoor environments. This reader utilizes short-pulse UWB technology, and provides software-enabled attenuation, which the company says allows for the creation of localized presence zones and provides read ranges from inches to hundreds of feet with clear line of sight. The Dart Vision Reader portfolio offers three standard integrated antenna models (High-Gain, which has the longest read range, as well as Mid-Gain and Omni), each of which can simultaneously receive thousands of signals emitted by Zebra's active UWB DartTags. The Dart Vision Reader can be used either as a standalone solution or as a complement to the Dart UWB RTLS; it is fully weatherproof (IP67-rated), and has an operational temperature range of -40 degrees to +55 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees to +131 degrees Fahrenheit). The reader is powered by standard IEEE 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), and supports the transport of the received DartTag messages via Ethernet or integrated 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi client capability (Wi-Fi antennas are sold separately). A Dart Vision Reader also has the capability to be daisy-chained to another Vision Reader (or another two readers with additional POE injection), thereby providing data via a single Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. According to Zebra, this capability is suitable for applications in which multiple readers would improve reading robustness, or extend the range of presence detection capability without the need to expand a company's IT network. The Dart Vision Reader is available in the United States, Canada, Europe and select Asia-Pacific countries.

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