Apr 17, 2008The following are product announcements made during this week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2008 conference in Las Vegas.
Zebra Announces New RFID Printer-Encoders
Zebra Technologies, an RFID printer and label provider, announced two new EPC Gen 2 RFID printer-encoders. According to Steve Park, the company's VP and general manager of RFID, the RZ400 and RZ600 models were developed to address the needs of businesses requiring industrial-grade printer-encoders but not the high throughput capabilities of the Zebra Xi printer-encoder series. The RZ400 can print, encode and verify 4-inch RFID labels at a throughput of up to 10 inches per second, and the RZ600, which handles 6-inch RFID labels, can do so at 8 inches per second. By comparison, Zebra's R110Xi (4-inch label) and R170Xi (6-inch labels printer-encoders offer a 20 percent and 25 percent higher label throughput rate, respectively, but cost roughly $1,000 more. The RZ400 and RZ600 printers, Park says, will "let large corporations better tune their printer purchases to usage, while allowing smaller companies to begin using RFID at a lower cost." The base list price for both the RZ400 and RZ600 printers is $3,595. These models will be available in North America this summer, and in other regions in late 2008.
Avery Dennison Ships New EPC Gen 2 Inlays
RFID tag maker Avery Dennison RFID, announced the availability of four new passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards: the AD-224, AD-631, AD-824 and AD-840. The 4- by 0.5-inch AD-224 inlay, an update of the AD-222 line designed for use on cartons and pallets, comes in two versions—standard, which offers 96 bits of memory, and extended memory, with 240 bits of EPC memory. Both versions provide increased read ranges and higher read rates, the company claims. The 1.3- by 2-inch AD-824 provides better read rates in dense tag environments in which tags are stacked together, Avery Dennison reports, and offers 240 or 512 bits of memory, depending on the version. The AD-631 can be read in any direction, whether or not the tag is facing the interrogator, providing a more reliable read in applications in which large numbers of tags are, for instance, driven by a forklift through an RFID portal. The AD-840 is a durable tag intended for use in rugged applications, such as when placed on baggage handles for airline handling. According to the tag maker, the 2- by 4-inch inlay is tough enough to continue transmitting, even if punctured.
Tagsys Releases UHF Tags for Item-level Tracking
RFID manufacturer Tagsys released a new family of UHF RFID tags designed specifically for item-level track-and-trace applications. The Trak tag family is based on technology that, according to Tagsys, significantly reduces RFID shadowing and detuning—two common phenomena with UHF tags that result when one tag in close proximity to another blocks a reader antenna's signal. Each of Tagsys' four new UHF Trak tags is optimized for specific item-level application environments: DocTrak is designed for document file-tracking applications, where near-contact of stacked items is unavoidable, and can read up to 50 stacked files; RapidTrak (50mm by 30mm) is intended for short-range omni-directional reading of hanging items on racks or stacked items at retail points of sale; SureTrak (71mm x 32mm) is built for readability in high-volume supply chain applications and fast inventory environments in which multiple paper items are stacked closely together; and RxTrak (25mm by 25mm) is intended for reading small items tightly packed in boxes or totes such as those found in pharmaceutical supply chains.
Alien Technology Demos Intelligent Tag Radar
Alien Technology unveiled a forthcoming free freeware upgrade to its interrogators that will enable the devices to provide not only the contents of RFID tag memory, but also tag velocity and position. The Intelligent Tag Radar (ITR) firmware, developed for Alien's ALR-9900, ALR-9800 and ALR-8800 Enterprise-Class reader platform, features the company's ITR-Singulation, which enables the reader to easily discriminate among adjacent tagged objects on a conveyor, such as items, cases or airline baggage. This, the company says, can be accomplished using Alien's standard EPC Gen 2 passive tags and interrogators without the need for specialized antennas, sensors or near-field equipment. Later this year, Alien plans to announce the availability of its ITR platform, which will also include ITR-Velocity, ITR-Directionality and ITR-Range functionality. In addition, Alien is demonstrating its Alien H3 Integrated Circuit (IC) for Passive Tags, unveiled earlier this month (see Alien Technology Announces New EPC Gen 2 Chip). The new H3 IC, with extended memory and authentication security features, supports various memory configurations, enabling up to 496 bits of EPC data and up to 512 bits of user memory. The IC is suitable for such applications as airline baggage and pharmaceutical drugs tracking, Alien indicates, as well as secure access, e-passports, brand authentication and the tracking of high-value assets and items, such as electronics, or wines and spirits.
Intermec IF61 Reader Supports Full WebSphere Platform
Intermec's IF61 RFID EPC Gen 2 interrogator, released last year (see Intermec Announces New Intelligent Reader), can now act as a host for IBM's WebSphere Premises Server 6.1, an upgrade to the RFID middleware platform IBM released earlier this month. Previously, the reader could host only several of the platform's functions. By hosting middleware directly on the interrogator's onboard computer, organizations can eliminate the need for a separate server to perform such operations as filtering, storing, manipulating and formatting data from tags before sending that information to back-end systems. WebSphere Premises Server 6.1, the latest version of the software, was released earlier this year and supports greater business logic, event-based business processes and alert functions than previous versions. The software can now process location data collected from active real-time location system tags, as well as data amassed from environmental sensors. The IF61 utilizes Intel's Celeron M 600 MHz processor, and is available with up to 1 gigabyte of flash memory and a 40-gigabyte hard drive.
Starport Technologies, an RFID solutions provider in Kansas City, Mo., announced the availability of two new UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID tags, that it says are well suited for working with metals, water or glass, or in free space. The two new tags have been tested by a U.S. manufacturer and, according to Starport, have demonstrated improved read and price performance. The Apollo, a durable tag encased in polycarbonate plastic and designed for attachment to cargo containers, offers a read range of up to 70 feet on or near metal, water or glass, or in free space. Its rugged design, the company says, makes it suitable for harsh environmental exposures. The Orion, a foam-backed tag with read ranges of up to 25 feet on metal, is available in custom designs to suit a client's particular needs. Starport's tags employ RFID technology licensed under an exclusive arrangement with the RFID Alliance Lab, a not-for-profit testing facility housed at the University of Kansas. RFID Alliance partners include the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC) at the University of Kansas, Rush Tracking Systems, a private RFID systems integrator, and RFID Journal.
Omnitrol Networks and Time Domain Combine RTLS and WIP
Omnitrol Networks, located in Mountain View, Calif., and Time Domain Corp., in Huntsville, Ala., have partnered to combine Omnitrol Networks' Work-in-Process (WIP) Visibility solution with Time Domain's ultra-wideband (UWB) real-time location system (RTLS). The offering is designed to help organizations locate assets in the large and harsh environments of production and manufacturing facilities, particularly those in aerospace and defense manufacturing industries. Time Domain's PLUS platform consists of ultra-wide band (UWB) active RFID tags, interrogators, ceiling-tile antennas, synchronization distribution panels and software. UWB devices emit a series of extremely short signals (billionths of a second or shorter), with each signal spanning a wide band of frequencies. The pulsed signals act much like sonar waves, enabling the system to determine distance by measuring how long it takes a pulse to travel from one point (such as a tag) to another (such as an interrogator), and using time distance of arrival (TDOA) technology to calculate location. Omnitrol Networks' WIP Visibility Solution processes the information from Time Domain's PLUS tags, then integrates that data into the context of manufacturing workflow. The off-the-shelf solution is designed to track each stage of manufacture, from work-order receipt through to shipping. All exceptions and timings are recorded for analysis, and alerts and notifications are easily configured. For instance, the system could automatically generate an alert if a material, such as an avionics component, were moved to an area in the plant where it was not supposed to be, or if a work order did not reach an assembly stage on time. The UWB-enabled real-time Work-in-Process Visibility solution is being demonstrated this week at RFID Journal LIVE! Additionally, Omnitrol Networks also announced that it has embedded IBM's WebSphere RFID Information Center software into the Omnitrol WIP appliance to create an EPC-based traceability and tracking solution for the manufacturing and logistics industries. IBM's WebSphere RFID Information Center enhances the WIP appliance by enabling customers to share product movement information with trading partners using solutions complying with EPCglobal's EPC Information Services (EPCIS) standard.
ODIN Releases EasyMonitor Reader-Management Software
RFID systems integrator ODIN Technologies has begun offering its in-house RFID reader management and monitoring software to resellers or end users of RFID. The software, known as EasyMonitor, is designed to enable customers to quickly and automatically monitor all of the RFID readers on their networks, as well as optimize their performance and perform periodic device maintenance. ODIN has deployed the EasyMonitor software for a number of its customers, the company reports, resulting in reader networks offering 99.5 percent uptime. When a reader fails to function properly, important data may be lost, and the time needed to remedy the situation can be costly and impact a project's deployment time. EasyMonitor is Web-based, so users can monitor all of their RFID hardware, down to the reader antennas, remotely. For resellers, using the software can reduce the number of on-site visits required to address a hardware problem at customer sites. The software is available now, though pricing has not yet been released.
Sybase Upgrades RFID Software Platform
Sybase subsidiary iAnywhere Solutions released RFID Anywhere version 3.5, an upgrade to its RFID software. According to Rob Veitch, the company's senior director of business development for RFID solutions, the software is used primarily by systems integrators and RFID solution providers as a backbone for their RFID software and service products. The new version features upgraded tooling and integration support for the latest Microsoft.NET and visual studio development tools. It also provides enhanced support for RFID interrogators that operate in remote areas and are infrequently linked to an end user's network—such as those used in an agricultural application for tracking produce picked and packed on a farm. Moreover, the new version includes support for a number of fixed and mobile, passive and active RFID readers, including models made by Alien Technology, Intermec, Omron, Psion Teklogix, Sirit, Feig Electronic, IPICO, Impinj, ePlate and Wavetrend Technologies. Version 3.5 will be available in the second quarter of this year; no pricing information has yet been released.