RFID News Roundup

Technology Solutions UK Ltd. intros wearable, Bluetooth-enabled RFID reader; Metalcraft announces Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag; Data Foundry optimizes airflow with RF Code's RFID technology; Securitag Assembly Group unveils new RFID tags for asset tracking and inventory control; iCOMP Technology announces 'Tag Talks Only' UHF RFID chip; Qualcomm provides Bluetooth beacons for Major League Baseball's 'At The Ballpark' app.
Published: March 20, 2014

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Technology Solutions UK Ltd.;
Data Foundry, RF Code;
Securitag Assembly Group;
iCOMP Technology; and

Technology Solutions UK Ltd. Intros Wearable, Bluetooth-enabled RFID Reader

TSL’s 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader

Technology Solutions UK Ltd. (TSL) has introduced its 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader, designed to be worn on a user’s hand so he or she can remain mobile. The 1153 reader, which supports the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 8000-6C standards, can communicate via Bluetooth wireless technology with a variety of host devices, including enterprise handhelds, consumer phones, touchscreen MP3 players, tablets and PCs. Measuring 10.1 centimeters long by 5.5 centimeters wide by 5.6 centimeters (4 inches by 2.2 inches by 2.2 inches) high, the reader has a trigger-shaped grip that fits over a user’s fingers. It also includes a 2D bar-code scanner and incorporates TSL’s ASCII 2 protocol, which provides a set of commands and supporting RFID software development kits (SDKs) that, according to TSL, carry out multiple actions locally within the reader, allowing multiple tag operations to be executed using simple preconfigured ASCII commands. The reader is compatible with devices running a variety of operating systems, including Android, Apple‘s iOS, and Microsoft‘s Windows Mobile, WinCE, XP, Vista, 7 and 8. TSL provides a free inventory-tracking RFID reader app for iOS devices at iTunes, and for Android devices at Google Play. The company will demonstrate the 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader at RFID Journal LIVE!, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 8-10, at TSL’s booth (119).

Metalcraft Announces Universal Mini RFID Asset Tags

Metalcraft’s Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag

Metalcraft has announced the availability of its Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag, which the company says is designed to fit where other tags cannot, while still delivering read ranges of up to about 12 feet, regardless of the mounting surface. At just 2.75 inches long by 0.75 inch wide and 0.05 inch thick, the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) inlay employs Alien Technology‘s Higgs3 chip optimized for use at 915 MHZ. Metalcraft can custom-print bar codes and other information on the label. The RFID inlay adheres to a durable, flexible label with subsurface printing that protects bar-code, logo and other information from chemicals and abrasion. The bar code and human-readable information can be programmed into the RFID inlay provided that the data is in decimal or hexadecimal (A-F, 0-9) format. Metalcraft custom-encodes the information to the tag’s Electronic Product Code (EPC) and user memory banks. All Universal RFID tags are password-locked. If desired, Metalcraft can encode information that differs from the bar code and human-readable data. The password can be designated by Metalcraft, or, if desired, customers can choose their own specific password. Metalcraft’s other Universal RFID tags include the Universal RFID Asset Tag and the Universal RFID Hard Tag (see RFID News Roundup: Metalcraft Announces Universal RFID Tags). The new Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag will be on display at RFID Journal LIVE!, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 8-10, at MetalCraft’s booth (710B).

Data Foundry Optimizes Airflow With RF Code’s RFID Technology
Data center operator Data Foundry is using RFID-enabled sensors and software provided by RF Code throughout its data centers across the United States, in order to help maximize the efficiency of cooling distribution and thereby assure its customers of compliance with energy usage regulations, as well as offer the most cost-effective services. The sensors provide Data Foundry with real-time intelligence to ensure that it maintains the temperatures of the hardware in its data centers within an acceptable range. Previously, Data Foundry relied on intermittent batch temperature readings. RF Code’s asset-management and environmental-monitoring solutions utilize active 433 MHz RFID, which delivers a continuous stream of data regarding asset location and the environmental conditions surrounding those items, according to Gregg Primm, RF Code’s director of inbound marketing. Data Foundry is using RF Code’s High-Performance Temperature Sensors to automatically collect real-time data and attain visibility into the thermal conditions in and around its equipment, Primm says, and the firm needs to be able to safely adjust temperature set points and save energy without incurring an increased risk of downtime or equipment failure. An RF Code sensor is about the size of a matchbox and features a long-life battery, with approximately five years on a single user-replaceable coin cell battery. When the battery’s power level drops to below a 20 percent charge, the tag will issue a low-battery warning as part of its beacon data, thereby allowing users to avoid data loss and plan for replacing the battery when convenient. The sensors’ deployment costs are low, Primm says, because there is no need to run wires back to control boxes or blocks. The sensor tag’s beacon data is picked up by RF Code’s M250 fixed reader (which features a read range of about 100 yards in an open-air environment), with a single reader typically covering approximately 3,000 to 5,000 square feet within a data center. The sensor’s beacon data is then loaded into RF Code’s Asset Manager software for storage, as well as for use in creating reports, generating graphs, issuing alerts and alarms in the event that a temperature falls outside of acceptable limits, and so forth. Data Foundry is using the sensors to monitor dry bulb air temperature, since the humidity is very consistent within the facilities. The sensors are affixed to the fronts of equipment cabinets, using zip ties and double-stick tape. The company employs RF Code’s Asset Manager software to provide a mapped overview of the data hall, says Edward Henigin, Data Foundry’s CTO, for ad hoc review and for surveying the overall situation in the room. “This is how we look for patterns and deviations from patterns in the room, which we can then use to investigate and remediate issues,” he explains. The sensors help ensure that Data Foundry follows a variety of airflow best practices. For example, if a sensor indicates it is warmer than other nearby sensors, it is often because someone removed blanking panels but failed to replace them.” We can quickly restore the cabinet back to its proper configuration, with blanking panels, when we’re alerted,” Henigin states. The sensors also help to identify incorrectly mounted hardware, such as switches or firewalls that were installed backwards in cabinets, he says, causing them to draw in hot air from the hot aisle, while blowing hot air into the cold aisle. Moreover, the sensors help correct cold air volumes. “If we investigate a high-temp sensor reading and discover that there simply isn’t enough cold air for the cabinet, we could change the perforated floor tile configuration to provide more air,” he says. “If the temperature sensors are all reading at the low end of the range, we know we can safely drop the fan speed in our air handlers, and/or lower the fan speeds of the CRAHs [computer room air handlers]. This is important to not waste energy. Data centers must be green, and producing excessive cold air is where a lot of energy is wasted.” Data Foundry has utilized the Rack Cooling Index (RCI) and Return Temperature Index (RTI) capabilities of RF Code’s data center management software to ensure compliance with ASHRAE‘s guidelines, which are designed to help businesses safeguard their IT equipment while lowering energy consumption. Data Foundry used RF Code’s application programming interface (API) to pull the per-sensor data into its existing core network monitoring engine. “In our network monitoring engine, we are trending and alarming on the data,” Henigin says. “This way, we get proactive notification when individual sensors go above or below bounds, and our operations team can manage those alerts in the same interface as all our other monitoring. We also report out of that data.”

Securitag Assembly Group Unveils New RFID Tags for Asset Tracking and Inventory Control
Securitag Assembly Group (SAG), an RFID transponder solution firm headquartered in Taiwan, has announced two new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tags designed for asset tracking, inventory control and other applications. The company’s UHF Overmolded Brick Metal Tag can be affixed to IT assets and industrial equipment by adhesives for various tracking applications. It features Alien Technology‘s Higgs3 chip and provides a reading range of up to 4 meters (13.1 feet). The tag measures 50 millimeters long, 25 millimeters wide and 6 millimeters high (2 inches by 1 inch by 0.2 inch), and has an IP 68 rating, signifying it as being dustproof and waterproof. According to SAG, the tag’s antenna design and material ensure that no communication failure caused by frequency shifts will be a problem when a metallic object is next to the UHF Overmolded Brick Metal Tag. SAG’s UHF 3D ISO Card, suitable for such applications as item-level tracking, supply chain management and inventory control, incorporates Impinj‘s Monza 4 True3D Technology and an omni-directional antenna design. It can be read from any angle and provides a reading range of up to 7 meters (23 feet). It measures 85.6 millimeters long, 54 millimeters wide and 0.8 millimeter high (3.4 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.03 inch), and also has an IP 68 rating. Both tags will be featured at RFID Journal LIVE!, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 8-10, at SAG’s booth (232).

iCOMP Technology Announces ‘Tag Talks Only’ UHF RFID Chip
iCOMP Technology (Dalian) Co., Ltd., a Chinese developer of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID chips, tags, readers and applications, has announced the development and availability of its iCP01 passive UHF RFID chip, compliant with the ISO 18000-64 and IP-X protocols. The chip uses a Tag Talks Only (TTO) transmission system, which the company says enables it to achieve up to 1.8 times the reading range of competing products, and to be read at speeds up to 600 kilometers per hour. With TTO, the reader sends no commands to the tag. Instead, the tag simply transmits its ID code and any required additional data at random intervals whenever it receives an RF signal from the reader. (In comparison, EPC Gen 2 technology follows the Reader Talks First [RTF] transmission scheme.) iCOMP claims the iCP01 offers the highest sensitivity in the industry (-25 dBm with a dipole antenna) and says it is the world’s smallest RFID chip, at 0.45 millimeter by 0.32 millimeter. The TTO protocol is inherently low-noise, iCOMP notes, and is suitable for applications in which a large number of readers must be deployed in close proximity to one another. In addition, the company reports, iCP01 implements a proprietary encrypted communication mode that has little impact on chip sensitivity and reading speed. This encrypted mode prevents tracking and counterfeiting for improved security and protection of user privacy, according to iCOMP. Application areas include long-range, high-speed identification, such as electronic vehicle identification and high-speed trains. The company adds that due to its high sensitivity, the chip is also suitable for very small tags with inefficient antennas, as might be the case with small on-metal tags. The chip’s tiny size makes it particularly suited toward high-volume, low-cost applications, such as apparel and ticketing, the company notes, while its increased security has use in anti-counterfeiting applications. This chip also has large potential for applications in intelligent cities, asset management, food security and industrial manufacturing processes. According to iCOMP’s, Youbon Qiu, a Korean company has begun using the iCP01 chip to develop a complete RFID tag.

Qualcomm Provides Bluetooth Beacons for Major League Baseball’s ‘At The Ballpark’ App

Qualcomm’s Gimbal Series 10 Bluetooth beacon

Qualcomm has announced that it has been chosen by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), the Internet and interactive branch of Major League Baseball (MLB), to supply Bluetooth Beacons to 20 ballparks for opening day of the 2014 MLB season. Deployment has already been completed at San Diego’s Petco Park and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium (see RFID News Roundup: Major League Baseball Installs Bluetooth Beacons at Two California Stadiums). These initial ballparks have been permanently equipped with a total of 65 Qualcomm Gimbal beacons, battery-powered tags that transmit a unique ID number via the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol. According to Qualcomm, the Gimbal beacons complement GPS technology by allowing devices and applications to derive their proximity to beacons at a micro-level. A user’s mobile application can be enabled to search for the beacon’s transmission, and once it comes within physical proximity to the beacon and detects it, the app can notify the customer of location-relevant content, promotions and offers. The Gimbal beacons are built and configured to Apple‘s iBeacon specification. Qualcomm’s Gimbal platform is context-aware and offers geofencing, proximity, interest sensing, consumer privacy controls, a communication platform and more. For example, Gimbal Interest Sensing provides applications with inferred end-user interests, based on mobile phone usage. The solution includes Gimbal proximity beacons and a software developer’s kit (SDK) for the iOS and Android platforms, as well as Gimbal Manager, a Web-based tool for managing geofences, privacy, profile rules, content, distribution, data and analytics. Qualcomm Retail Solutions has been assisting MLBAM with installation and training on how to optimally deploy these proximity beacons across the ballparks. Qualcomm Retail Services and MLBAM have been collaborating for more than a year on the development and potential use cases of iBeacon technology for baseball fans. The two displayed their joint work and the technology in September 2013 at Citi Field, the home stadium of the New York Mets (see Companies Deliver New Apps for Bluetooth Beacons). According to Qualcomm, there are other implementations of its Gimbal platform as well. The Miami Dolphins successfully tested Gimbal at Sun Life Stadium, the company reports, in order to enrich fans’ in-stadium experience by sending them personalized messages and special offers, based on their location, personal preference (it’s an opt-in service) and the time of day. The Gimbal platform helped to power NFL app on “Super Bowl Boulevard” in Times Square, during the days leading up to the game, and at Met Life Stadium during the Super Bowl itself. Additionally, Qualcomm says, the SXSW Go mobile app leveraged Gimbal beacons to enhance attendee exploration of the huge number of showcases, performances, parties and events during the trade show. The Gimbal Series 10 beacon is not much larger than a U.S. quarter, with a loop on one side to allow for installation flexibility. It uses a standard CR2032 replaceable battery and ships with the battery tab installed and ready to activate. The battery life under typical conditions is about 3 months when transmitting at almost twice per second, the firm reports. The Series 10 beacon will send a notification when a battery is running low. In addition to its location features and long battery life, this small beacon also contains a temperature sensor. The Gimbal Series 20 beacon is bigger (a bit larger than a playing card), and has a configurable omni-directional or directional antenna. It is powered by four replaceable standard AA alkaline batteries. The battery life is approximately 1 year, but this unit has the added benefit of transmitting at 10 times per second—which, Qualcomm indicates, affords applications the ability to monitor for it in the background, while still providing a responsive customer experience. The Series 20 can be used indoors and outdoors, can function at temperatures between -40 degrees and +60 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees and +140 degrees Fahrenheit), and is dust- and rain-tight, as well as ice- and sleet-resistant (NEMA3-rated).