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RFID News Roundup

Market-research firms predict strong RFID growth for data centers, apparel sector; RF Code advances its temperature-monitoring technology for the data center; Tempsys adds Wi-Fi capability to its RFID-enabled temperature sensors; Oil and gas booming with help from wireless sensors; TagMaster receives new order from Bombardier for Sao Paulo metro line; Barco intros new ultra-slim UHF RFID antenna; HID Global achieves ATEX certification for tags.
Jul 26, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Market-Research Firms Predict Strong RFID Growth for Data Centers, Apparel Sector
A growing number of companies are adopting radio frequency identification technology, and the markets are gaining steam, according to figures released by separate research firms. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan indicates that market revenues for RFID tags, hardware (such as readers and printers), software and middleware, and integration services used to track and trace IT assets within data centers reached $96.3 million in 2011, and are expected to grow to $952.6 million in 2017, with the widespread implementation of RFID technology in data centers globally. RFID tags can quickly locate and track innumerable servers and vast numbers of data tapes within large data centers, thus lowering their replacement expenses, according to Frost & Sullivan. The lack of asset visibility sometimes results in the duplication of existing assets, ultimately adding to total costs, says Nandini Bhattacharya, the Frost & Sullivan senior research analyst who authored the report. RFID can save costs, she explains, by not only eliminating duplication, but also preventing theft and loss through real-time tracking. Because the technology's use in data centers is still an emerging application, Bhattacharya notes, RFID developers need to create robust and innovative software platforms that can support the convergence of various technologies in order for RFID to gain greater visibility. The Asia-Pacific market for RFID in data centers is expected to grow rapidly, according to Frost & Sullivan, in part due to the likely consolidation of the hosting service providers and outsourcing of services to the region. Revenues for RFID tags, hardware, software and middleware, and integration services within the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 72.7 percent from 2010 to 2017, followed by the Europe, Middle East and Africa at 46.3 percent, and the Americas at 35.1 percent. In a separate research report provided by IDTechEx, the value of the entire RFID market—including tags, readers, software and services for RFID cards, labels, fobs and all other form factors in all industries—is anticipated to reach $7.46 billion, up from $6.37 billion in 2011. In many sectors, RFID orders are up by 10 percent or more, IDTechEx reports. The firm attributes this to the growth of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) systems for tagging apparel and many closed-loop applications. In retail, IDTechEx reports, RFID is seeing rapid growth for apparel tagging, an application expected to demand 1 billion RFID labels this year, with 1.35 billion tags forecast for 2013. RFID in the form of tickets used for transit will demand 500 million tags in 2012. In total, 3.98 billion tags will be sold in 2012, versus 2.93 billion in 2011. Most of that growth is from passive UHF RFID labels, but IDTechEx notes that to date, suppliers of UHF labels are still barely profitable. For several years, capacity has far exceeded demand, and those involved in UHF passive RFID tag manufacture are still not profitable over the term of their investment. This led to a significant amount of consolidation from 2007 to 2009, particularly in the UHF tag market. In contrast, most companies involved in passive high-frequency (HF) tag supply are profitable. Since 2011, however, there has been strong growth in passive UHF tag demand, IDTechEx indicates. In addition to the retail and apparel markets, RFID's growth is also driven by governments that are requiring the use of RFID for such applications as tracking farm animals, by local agencies adopting RFID for non-stop road tolling and library tagging, and from national governments increasingly buying RFID-enabled national ID cards and passports. Interestingly, IDTechEx's research also portrays RFID's growth since its beginnings. According to the firm, at the start of 2012, the cumulative number of RFID tags sold over the past 65 years was 15.1 billion, 20 percent of which were sold last year. IDTechEx expects that the RFID market will grow steadily over the next decade, rising four-fold within that period to $26.19 billion in 2022.

RF Code Advances Its Temperature Monitoring Technology for the Data Center
RF Code, a provider of IT asset-management and environmental- and power-monitoring solutions, has introduced an updated version of its RF Code High Performance Temperature Sensor, which the company says has greater accuracy and a lower power consumption, resulting in a longer battery life. RF Code's solutions are designed to help companies run more efficient data centers, by monitoring the environment via RFID and sensors. The new sensor replaces the previous version, the R150 temperature sensor, that RF Code has offered for several years. The new R150-5B10 model provides accurate temperature monitoring within 1 degree Fahrenheit for temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius), and accuracy within 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit for temperatures between -4 degrees Fahrenheit and +158 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius to +70 degrees Celsius). The previous version offered accurate temperature monitoring within 2 degrees. In addition, the new model offers a typical battery life of more than five years at a 10-second beacon rate, compared with a typical life of approximately three years for the older version. The new temperature sensor follows a similar upgrade that RF Code made, in March 2012, to its sensor tag that monitors and reports relative humidity and ambient temperature within its immediate environment (see RFID News Roundup: RF Code Intros Temperature-Humidity Sensor With Extended Battery Life). The updated R150-5B10 High Performance Temperature Sensor is available now.

Tempsys Adds Wi-Fi Capability to Its RFID-enabled Temperature Sensors
Tempsys, a provider of wireless temperature monitoring and real-time location systems (RTLS), today announced that its CheckPoint Temperature Monitoring System now features Wi-Fi-capable sensors supporting 802.11 b/g and WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption. The addition of Wi-Fi will provide hospitals, laboratories and pharmaceutical companies that use Tempsys' solution with additional options for setting up the CheckPoint Wireless network. For example, the new sensors now contain Wi-Fi radios to communicate directly to a facility's Wi-Fi network. The new Wi-Fi capability enables companies to leverage the investment in their current IT infrastructure, says Bob Yuan, Tempsys' CEO. This option, he says, is a faster and less expensive deployment choice, since it makes use of Wi-Fi access points already deployed, and does not require new cabling, power outlets or CheckPoint infrastructure, such as repeaters and receivers. The CheckPoint Temperature Monitoring System continuously monitors temperature-sensitive equipment throughout a hospital, from pharmacy to blood bank, and from medical and food refrigerators at nurse stations to research laboratories. It is designed to help health-care organizations accurately monitor drugs and specimens, ensure patient safety, prevent loss and ensure that hospitals are always ready for audits and inspections by regulatory agencies, Tempsys reports. The CheckPoint Temperature Monitoring System is already in use at such hospitals as Children's Hospital Colorado, which is using the technology to monitor the temperatures of refrigerators, blood coolers, blanket warmers and other heating or cooling appliances within its 10-story tower (see Children's Hospital Colorado to Expand Wireless Sensor System). CheckPoint temperature sensors are manufactured by Tempsys, and every CheckPoint probe includes a National Institute of Standards And Technology (NIST) traceable certificate of calibration. Tempsys' solutions include a sensor with dual probes, to simultaneously monitor two sections of a refrigerator or monitor two levels within a liquid nitrogen freezer, as well as sensors for detecting leaks, counting particles and measuring differential air pressure.

Oil and Gas Booming With Help from Wireless Sensors
Global technology research firm ON World has identified wireless sensor networks (WSN) as a key technology for accelerating oil and gas exploration and advancing the latest extraction techniques. WSNs are composed of groups of small devices, such as sensors, that have three jobs: sensing, computing and communicating. To achieve these functions, each device contains a battery, a radio transceiver (for communication), one or more sensors (to measure such parameters as temperature, humidity or light) and a microprocessor (to store data and control the sensor or sensors attached to the apparatus). According to a recently published report by ON World, North America may be on its way to becoming energy-independent, largely due to shale oil and gas fields, horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing and advancements with sensor and wireless technologies. In addition to using wide-area wireless networks to manage pipelines and production from remote locations, the firm reports, oil and gas companies are also turning to WSNs for faster and more flexible sensing and control solutions. "Oil and gas represents some of the most inhospitable environments with intense and challenging communications requirements," said Mareca Hatler, ON World's research director, in a prepared statement. "As early adopters, oil and gas companies have demonstrated that WSN solves critical monitoring and control solutions in the most difficult locations." Oil and gas applications currently benefiting from WSN technologies include wellhead automation, the ON World indicates. Using WSN technology, oil and gas companies have been drilling nearly twice as many wells as they were a few years ago, 90 percent of which are energy-producing wells. Wireless sensors are also enabling a new generation of equipment-health monitoring systems that can be deployed within harsh and remote locations, such as on offshore rigs in the North Sea. Standards-based wireless mesh systems from a variety of vendors (including Emerson, General Electric, Honeywell and Yokogawa) are gaining traction, along with long-range wireless sensor systems from such companies as Schneider Electric's Accutech Instruments division; Luna Innovations, which is part of Ferguson Beauregard; OleumTech; and vMonitor. ON World reports that within the next few years, there could be millions of seismic sensors installed worldwide, largely due to advances in such sensor technologies as micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), as well as wireless communications. MEMS can be smaller than microscopic dust mites, and have been used for several decades in everything from inkjet printers to accelerometers that deploy air bags in cars. A MEMS RFID tag contains micromechanical components that are expected to be rugged and easier to produce, and that could be attached directly to medical devices. Such a tag can withstand exposure to wide temperature ranges and gamma radiation. The latest wireless seismic surveying systems simplify and expand the possibilities of conducting surveys deeper underground and in regions more remote than were previously possible. WSNs are also useful for pipelines and corrosion monitoring.

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