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RFID News Roundup

SML Group launches RFID solutions for retail garment and item tracking; Cascade Engineering's Xtreme RFID division launches on-metal UHF tag made with Avery Dennison inlay; Leo InnoTech, UPM RFID implement solution for apparel warehouse optimization in China; Sony Ericsson announces NFC-enabled Xperia smartphones, tags; LSCM R&D Center intros near-field UHF RFID reader chip; Hutchison Port Holdings unveils round-the-clock monitoring service for cargo, assets.
Sony Ericsson Announces NFC-enabled Xperia Smartphones, Tags
Sony Ericsson has announced two new smartphones that support Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology: the Xperia S, the firm's new flagship smartphone, and the first of the new Xperia NXT series; and the Xperia ion, Sony's first LTE smartphone available in the United States. The company has also announced its Xperia Smart Tags, which are small plastic black-and-red or white-and-blue tokens—measuring 28 millimeters (1.1 inches) in diameter and 3.2 millimeters (0.1 inch) in thickness—containing a 13.56 MHz passive RFID NFC inlay. The Xperia SmartTags, according to the company's Web site, will be available in bundled kits together with NFC-enabled Xperia phones (bundling options may differ between markets). Each Xperia SmartTag has a read-only RFID inlay encoded with a unique ID number. In the LiveWare manager application, a user can configure which action that should be performed when a certain Xperia SmartTag is interrogated. Reading the tag would have a result specific to that user's phone, while reading the same tag with a differently configured phone would give another result. For example, the company says, a user can set up a special "work tag" at his or her desk, so that when the phone reads the tag, it will automatically lower its ring-tone volume and turn off its music. The Xperia S and Xperia ion utilize NXP Semiconductors' PN65 NFC chip, which integrates an NFC radio controller, the embedded secure element and NFC software (see Sony Ericsson Selects NXP's NFC Solution for Its Android-based Smartphones).

LSCM R&D Center Intros Near-Field UHF RFID Reader Chip
The Hong Kong R&D Center for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Enabling Technologies (LSCM R&D Center) has introduced its LS1001 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader chip that supports the ISO 18000-6c and EPC Gen 2 standards, and is designed to read UHF tags located in the near field (within a distance of 10 to 30 centimeters, or 3.9 to 11.8 inches). The chip's performance requirements, as well as a command set as defined in the EPC Gen 2 air–interface protocol, can be pre-tuned to reduce operation complexity, enabling it to operate in different modes (profiles) suitable for specific usage scenarios, such as inventory, Electronic Product Code (EPC) retrieval, read memory and write EPC. By selecting different profiles, the company reports, the peripheral circuitry and microcontroller unit (MCU) requirements can be custom-made, and the best performance-power-consumption-cost trade-off can be achieved for different users. The chip targets to provide UHF RFID interrogation capability for smartphones, and is designed to meet most required functions for the retail industry, for performing simple read-and-write operation in retail environments, as well as supporting innovative applications for mobile handsets. The chip is custom-made for applications requiring close communications and mobility, and is a deliverable that is part of a broader, recently completed project, known as "Lightweight RFID Reader Chip for NFC and Mobile Applications," supported by the Government's Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), in Hong Kong. Dr. Terry Ye, the project's coordinator and the LSCM R&D Center's director of research and technology development, believes that the reader chip represents a great leap forward in bringing RFID technology to people's everyday life, by addressing the need for a lightweight, low-power-consumption and easy-to-operate reader device on the market. The LSCM R&D Center is marketing the chip to manufacturers of smartphones and other mobile devices, and is licensing the design manufacturing to a chipmaker.

Hutchison Port Holdings Unveils Round-the-Clock Monitoring Service for Cargo, Assets
Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), a port investor, developer and operator headquartered in Hong Kong with offices around the world, has unveiled StellarTrak, a Web-based, on-demand service designed to provide HPH's LoadStar customers with next-generation security, monitoring and tracking services for cargo and assets. LoadStar, an HPH division, provides wireless-shipping and asset-monitoring services, with offices in the United States, Latin America and Asia. StellarTrak provides LoadStar's customers with real-time information regarding their cargo and assets. Customers can log onto the StellarTrak Web site to determine the precise location of their cargo and assets, as well as the security and environmental status of the products located within. Customers can also subscribe to LoadStar's monitoring service, and LoadStar will actively provide cargo monitoring and issue processing for them. The StellarTrak service's primary components include application software enabling the rendering and display of any location- or sensor-based data, geospatially and in reports. This data can come from such location technologies as GPS, RFID, real-time location system (RTLS) and various other sensor technologies. The service also includes a communications layer that supports any technology (cellular, satellite, Wi-Fi and RFID) that ultimately goes over the Internet to communicate with StellarTrak's application software, as well as LoadStar-developed tags and other tags integrated from third-party suppliers. The tags are used to capture the location and/or sensor status of the object being monitored, and then forward that information to the application software via the enabled communication layer. Available now, the StellarTrak service can be purchased directly from LoadStar, or via one of its resellers. Pricing is variable and driven by selected features (sensors, for example), location update frequency, communication frequency, type and duration, and volume, and the service is priced on a per-shipment, per-use or monthly basis.

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