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RFID News Roundup

Researchers at North Dakota State University develop antenna-less on-metal RFID tag; HID Global introduces IronTag UHF transponder for tracking metal assets; Atlantic City, Michigan resorts add UHF RFID uniform-tracking systems; University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust implements AeroScout RTLS; Savi teams with SGS on tracking services, intros new software; Unique Micro Designs offers sample quantities of RFID tags.
Feb 09, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Researchers at North Dakota State University Develop Antenna-less On-metal RFID Tag
A research team at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), at North Dakota State University (NDSU), has announced that it has developed a passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag for metal containers that uses the container to which it is attached as an antenna. The patent-pending technology could be utilized to help companies track a variety of metal objects—such as barrels of oil and cargo containers—the center reports, and would allow for an inexpensive and manufacturable product-tracking solution. The tags developed by CNSE are less than 3 millimeters (0.1 inch) thick, and are placed directly onto metal, or could be recessed into an object's surface. "Most RFID tags that are to be used on metal objects are made by placing an antenna on a spacer, making them between 0.5 and 3 cm [0.2 inch and 1.2 inches] thick, depending on the type of tag," said Cherish Bauer-Reich, a research engineer, in a prepared statement. "The tags we've developed actually use the metal container as an antenna, rather than having to make and place another antenna on top of the container." The antenna-less concept is not new, and several other companies have worked to developed similar tags. In 2006, a QinetiQ teamed up with Crown Holdings to develop metal containers, such as soft-drink cans, with built-in EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tags that used the can's metal surface as an antenna (see QinetiQ and Crown Develop Item Containers With Antenna-less RFID Tags). QinetiQ's RFID chip is at the heart of technology now being employed in tags manufactured by Omni-ID, which was spun out from QinetiQ in February 2007. In addition, Impinj and Murata Manufacturing Co. have worked to develop a tag that uses a printed circuit board's ground plane as a tag antenna (see Put RFID in Your Product, Not on It); a manufacturer of printed circuit boards (PCBs), in fact, was testing Murata's MagicStrap solution (see Schneider Electric Lays Groundwork for Tracking Circuit Boards via RFID). The CNSE research team includes Bauer-Reich, along with Michael Reich, an NDSU senior research engineer, and Layne Berge, an undergraduate electrical engineering student. The group's research will be presented at the 2012 IEEE International Workshop on Antenna Technology (iWAT-2012), to be held on Mar. 5-7, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. The research presentation, titled "Low-profile, high-permeability antenna-less RFID tags for use on metal objects," is scheduled for Mar. 5. The antenna-less RFID tag technology developed at CNSE was created with support under Grant Number N00189-10-C-Z055, awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Office of Naval Research. The patent-pending technology is available for licensing and partnering opportunities through the NDSU Research Foundation.

HID Global Introduces IronTag UHF Transponder for Tracking Metal Assets
HID Global has announced the addition of the IronTag 176 to its ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID transponder portfolio. The new tag, HID Global reports, is well suited for tracking a variety of metal assets—such as aircraft parts—that may be subjected to demanding conditions, because the transponder is designed to tolerate the harsh conditions of manufacturing and processing, as well as vehicle and equipment operation. The IronTag 176 is compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards, and is compatible with the Air Transport Association's ATA Spec 2000, covering the data to be included regarding automatic data-capture devices, including RFID tags, as well as the structure of that information. It is also compliant with SAE International's SAE AS5678 specification, which spells out requirements regarding a tag's ability to withstand specific variations in temperature, air pressure, vibration, shock and other environmental factors. The IronTag, HID indicates, is waterproof and resistant to shock, vibration and chemical exposure, and can withstand temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to +356 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees to +180 degrees to Celsius). Measuring just 2.1 inches by 0.9 inch by 0.27 inch (53 millimeters by 23 millimeters by 7 millimeters), it provides a read range of up to 13 feet (4 meters) when mounted on metal. The contactless chip provides a 512-bit user memory, in addition to 96-bit EPC and 64-bit TID. IronTag 176 transponders are available immediately, the company reports.

Atlantic City, Michigan Resorts Add UHF RFID Uniform-Tracking System
Revel and the Odawa Casino Resort (OCR) have chosen InvoTech Systems' GIMS RFID-based tracking system for managing uniforms. Both Revel's and OCR's implementations include Fujitsu Frontech North America rubber-encapsulated labels that can be sewn into each uniform, and each tag has a unique ID number linked in the GIMS software to the particular type of item, as well as its laundering history. The solutions also include Impinj Speedway Revolution readers, along with AN720 and AN480 antennas from Motorola Solutions, for tracking uniforms' locations. According to InvoTech, the solution will provide Revel, a $2.4 billion lifestyle resort on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, with 24-hour automated uniform distribution and control for thousands of valuable garments worn by 5,800 resort staff members. The GIMS solution interfaces with White Conveyors' automated U-Pick-It uniform-delivery system. AJ Conveyor and Laundry Systems will oversee the project, including the system's planning and installation. Revel, which is slated to open in the spring of this year, will be a 47-story, 1,500-room resort. "To supply the volume of uniforms required by Revel's staff, InvoTech's GIMS system will communicate with UHF-RFID readers installed over each of the 11 U-Pick-It System uniform delivery doors," said Jeff Welles, InvoTech Systems' VP, in a prepared statement. "This enables staff to get their clean uniforms quickly by just swiping an ID card to be on the job faster. We will also install a UHF-RFID bulk reading station for automatically processing uniforms going to and from the laundry to ensure all garments are instantly counted and tracked without hand sorting or counting to save the property money." OCR, a $140 million resort in Petoskey, Mich., owned and operated by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, had installed an earlier version of GIMS in 2007 with bar-code labels attached to the uniforms, which were manually scanned for real-time inventory tracking. With the upgrade, uniforms now have UHF-RFID tags attached that automate the inventory process. In a prepared statement, Melissa Richards, OCR's director of human resources, said the solution helps control costs, noting, "Since our wardrobe department does not generate revenue, and uniforms are often lost traveling to and from the laundry, tight inventory control is essential." InvoTech installed UHF RFID readers near doors at which uniform carts travel to and from the laundry trucks for hands-free accounting. The company also placed readers over the doors of the property's automated White Conveyors U-Pick-It System that delivers uniforms to employees. The solution tracks when workers take delivery of their garments, in order to maintain an accurate inventory of all uniforms. InvoTech Systems' solutions are already installed at a variety of hotels and casinos, from Las Vegas to Macau, including the Fallsview Casino Resort, located in Niagara Falls, Canada, which is tracking tens of thousands of garments comprising employee uniforms (see Resort Uses RFID to Track Uniforms).

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