RFID News Roundup

FileTrail, Lexmark team up on solution to track and manage media, assets; RFID momentum strong in several markets, VDC Research reports; Lowry, Northrop Grumman, GTSI win DOD auto-ID contracts; NFC Forum announces new membership level for NFC implementers; 3M upgrades RFID tracking software; Tharo launches PR100 EPC Gen 2 handheld reader; Laird Technologies unveils RFID reader antennas for outdoor use.
Published: August 6, 2009

The following are news announcements made during the last week.

FileTrail, Lexmark Team Up on Solution to Track and Manage Media, Assets

FileTrail, a provider of browser-based records-management software and RFID technology, has joined forces with Lexmark International, which provides printing and imaging products and services. The duo report they will create an RFID solution designed to help companies track and manage documents, folders, assets, library books, records and more. The alliance combines FileTrail’s RFID software and services with Lexmark’s newly RFID-enabled T654 monochrome laser printer, which enables customers to print, encode and verify labels and other media with embedded ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tags. Customers can then use the labels to track and manage documents and other items using FileTrail’s portable RFID interrogators. Last month, Lexmark introduced an RFID option for its T654 printer, consisting of an add-on paper drawer containing a built-in RFID encoder (see Metal Finishing Co. Makes Monitoring Work-in-Progress More Efficient). The RFID-enabled T654 can print and encode RFID labels at a rate of up to 20 pages per minute. Companies can purchase and manage the in-house components comprising that FileTrail and Lexmark solution, but the two companies also offer hosted solutions. FileTrail offers an RFID solution in which it hosts the FileTrail software on its servers and handles all backups and updates. For users that already own the Lexmark T654 monochrome laser printer, the UHF RFID option and other components can be ordered as upgrades.

RFID Momentum Strong in Several Markets, VDC Research Reports

RFID is showing signs of health in several select markets, according to new research from VDC Research Group (VDC), a technology market research firm located in Natick, Mass. Specifically, the RFID middleware and professional services markets approached $1 billion in 2008 and demonstrated 30 percent revenue growth over the year prior; 2009 forecasts, meanwhile, show double-digit growth in the near term (increasing by nearly 16 percent this year), with a gradual return to 30 percent within five years. VDC cites the commoditization and commercialization of RFID hardware, as well as increased system complexity, as drivers of the RFID services market. RFID middleware is also making gains, the firm’s research indicates, thanks to continued investments in transportation and manufacturing, ongoing government support and a shift toward source tagging. VDC predicts the RFID middleware market alone will grow across all regions, growing in excess of 55 percent in 2009, with continual growth through 2013. The Americas are expected to account for the majority of middleware revenues, while the Asia-Pacific region is anticipated to account for nearly one-quarter of the total middleware market by 2013. VDC also reports the smart-card market is expected to grow, due to increased demand for contactless payment and ticketing applications worldwide. RFID smart-card revenues approached $700 million in 2008 and are predicted to grow by more than 26 percent year-over-year through 2013. According to VDC, the ISO 14443 standard will continue to account for the vast majority of current and future global smart-card revenues and unit shipments. The market research is part of VDC’s RFID Business Planning Service—2009 Opportunity and Requirements Analysis.

Lowry, Northrop Grumman, GTSI Win DOD Auto-ID Contracts

The U.S. Army Product Manager for Joint-Automatic Identification Technology (PM J-AIT) has announced all of the winners of its indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts for its Automatic Identification Technology-IV (AIT-IV) program. The winners include Lowry Computer Products, a manufacturer and integrator of wireless, RFID, bar-code and data-collection solutions; GTSI Corp., a provider of technology products, professional services and IT infrastructure solutions to federal, state and local governments; and Northrop Grumman Information Systems, a provider of hardware, software, services and systems integration. The purpose of AIT-IV is to provide the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies with a source of equipment for locating and monitoring assets and tracking logistics processes. Such equipment may incorporate a variety of technologies, including bar codes, contact and touch memory, thermal printing, biometrics, cellular, satellite and voice recognition. The Army anticipates applications for AIT-IV to include inventory applications, warehouse-management solutions, maintenance and repair systems, and security applications for entry and exit points at military facilities, roadside installations and other environments. An IDIQ contract allows a vendor to fulfill a purchase order from any authorized federal agency for an indefinite quantity of supplies or services during a specified period of time. The AIT-IV contract is worth more than $400 million over three years, with an option for up to six additional years. The term consists of a three-year base period; one two-year option for ordering products, services and maintenance; and one four-year option for maintenance only. In addition, the AIT-IV program will offer site surveys, installation, integration, implementation and training for turnkey AIT solutions. Lowry indicates it will work with Motorola, Zebra Technologies, CACI and other business partners to provide the military with services and products, such as Motorola’s mobile computers with advanced data-capture capabilities. Northrop Grumman Information Systems will work with six subcontractors—Cytec, Evanhoe & Associates, Onyx Government Services, Motorola, Williams Software Associates and XIO Strategies. Last week, both CDO Technologies and Intermec Technologies announced that they have each been awarded an AIT-IV contract (see DOD Awards New Contracts for Auto-ID Technology).
NFC Forum Announces Membership Level for Implementers

In an effort to expand the ranks of its membership, the NFC Forum has added a new membership level for developers and providers of Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID solutions. The organization is an association promoting the adoption of NFC technology. The new category, known as the Implementer membership, is designed for companies directly implementing NFC solutions in the field worldwide. It complements existing NFC Forum membership levels, which are primarily targeted at technical specification development. The annual fee for an Implementer membership is $5,000, and entitles a company to attend and participate in NFC Marketing Committee Working Group and Task Force meetings, and to review pre-release specification drafts, as well as receive other benefits, such as discounts on product certification. “No one knows more about customer needs and best practices than the companies that deliver NFC solutions around the world every day,” said Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum, in a prepared statement. “The Implementer level brings NFC Forum membership within reach of these organizations, and as we work together to build the future of NFC, their knowledge and expertise should prove to be very valuable.” The NFC forum makes memberships available to nonprofit institutions for an annual fee of $1,000, and the organization continues to offer memberships to for-profit companies at several levels: Associate ($10,000), Principal ($25,000) and Sponsor ($50,000).

3M Upgrades RFID Tracking Software

3M‘s Track and Trace Solutions group has announced an upgrade to its RFID Tracking System software. Version 3.0, compatible with Microsoft‘s Vista operating system, is available now and features new Web-based locating and reporting abilities enabling users to generate lists of items checked in and out, as well as create custom reports. The updated software also includes e-mail notifications and provides configurable, real-time alerting features, helping to save users’ time when locating valuable assets, such as legal or military files (see Marin County DA Saves With RFID and Fort Hood to RFID-Tag Medical Records). Additionally, the software now includes options to export data in PDF, CSV and Excel formats.

Tharo Launches PR100 EPC Gen 2 Handheld Reader

Tharo Systems, a provider of software for product identification, bar-code and RFID labeling, has introduced a new handheld ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 interrogator, the PR100. The device weighs 1.8 pounds, is powered by a 12-volt rechargeable battery, features an LCD display and offers a read range of up to 5 feet. The PR100 can store up to 4,000 RFID scans in its internal memory, and includes software allowing customers to save RFID data in a Microsoft Access database format, create and search custom reports, and export CSV files. Data can be uploaded to a PC with a USB connection. The PR100’s suggested retail price is $995.

Laird Technologies Unveils RFID Reader Antennas for Outdoor Use

Laird Technologies, a designer and manufacturer of components for wireless systems and electronics applications, has announced the release of its line of RFID HD RooTenna antennas for ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) 865-960 MHz RFID interrogators. According to the company, the RooTenna series integrates a high-performance RFID antenna and a compartment for reader electronics into an IP-67-rated weatherproof housing enclosure (the IP-67 rating signifies the antennas are protected against damage from moisture, dust and vibration), making it suitable for harsh environments. The antennas cover industry-standard 902-928 MHz and 865-868 MHz RFID frequencies, as well as a wideband version for 865-960 MHz. The series offers six different circularly polarized UHF antenna options, available in a choice of right-hand (RH) or left-hand (LH) circular polarization. The die-cast enclosure can be pole- or wall-mounted, and a heavy-duty tilt bracket is available for those installations requiring up or down tilt. Eleven engineered knockouts are provided: nine sized for N connectors, and two sized for a cable feed-through.