RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

ALL-TAG releases RFID-Ink tag ••• Redpoint Positioning integrates RTLS with Autodesk's BIM applications ••• Bluvision, Airside Mobile Turn On Android's Nearby Notifications feature at airports ••• MicroStrategy leverages Bluetooth beacons for real-time user behavior analytics ••• T.A.P. Tag Technologies NFC-enables RealTimeRental's new mobile app.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: ALL-TAG;
Redpoint Positioning, Autodesk; Bluvision, Airside Mobile; MicroStrategy; T.A.P. Tag Technologies, and RealTimeRental.

ALL-TAG Releases RFID-Ink Tag

ALL-TAG, a manufacturer of anti-theft security tags, security labels and other loss-prevention products, has announced the release of RFID-Ink, which combines RFID technology with an ink tag that releases a permanently staining fluid if forcibly removed. The product enables retailers to combine theft deterrence, RFID and electronic article surveillance (EAS) technologies into a single tag, the company reports.

Ink tags are referred to as benefit/denial products, because they deny shoplifters the benefit of the stolen merchandise. If a shoplifter attempts to forcibly disconnect an ink tag from its locking device, the tag’s ink vials will break and the contents will spill out onto the garment, permanently defacing it. Statistics show that shoplifters are typically deterred from stealing when the target merchandise can neither be worn nor sold.

RFID-Ink tags

The RFID-Ink tag’s plastic shell contains ink vials and an RFID circuit. ALL-TAG can embed any make or model of inlay into the RFID-Ink tag, as long it will fit into its shell, explains Andy Gilbert, ALL-TAG’s VP of sales, and the company can design it to customers’ specifications so that they can seamlessly add this product to their existing RFID process. The firm can also customize the RFID-Ink tag’s shape and color, as well as the ink ampoules themselves, to meet a customer’s needs.

The RFID-Ink is attached and detached from merchandise via the same method used with traditional ink tags, Gilbert says. The RFID-Ink tag is equipped with a pin (which is also customizable) that can be inserted through a garment and then into a locking mechanism called a clutch—or, he notes, for a double measure of theft protection, into the locking mechanism of a traditional AM or RF EAS hard tag, such as Sensormatic‘s SuperTag or Checkpoint Systems‘ Mini Tag. When a shopper buys the garment, the retailer uses a magnetic detacher to release the pin from the clutch or anti-theft hard tag.

Redpoint Positioning Integrates Real-Time Location With Autodesk’s BIM Applications

Redpoint Positioning Corp., a developer of a GPS-like indoor positioning solution for construction safety and efficiency applications, has announced a demonstration of its integration with Autodesk‘s Building Information Modeling (BIM) solution—the Autodesk Forge Platform—enabling context-aware documents while improving construction job site efficiency and safety. BIM is a 3D model-based process that architecture, engineering and construction professionals can use to more efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.

Redpoint’s system monitors the real-time activity of assets and personnel on job sites with 8-inch location accuracy, and makes that information available through the Autodesk Forge Platform. According to Redpoint, the company is an early adopter of the Autodesk Forge Platform, which consists of a set of Autodesk cloud services, application programming interfaces (APIs) and software-development kits (SDKs)s for developers to quickly create the data, apps, experiences and services that power the future of making things. Redpoint leverages Forge APIs to monitor and record live construction job site activities inside BIM 360.

Launched in 2015, the Redpoint Indoor GPS solution is designed to improve industrial worker efficiency and safety by generating real-time data regarding work crews, tools and asset locations across job sites. Suitable for areas in which Wi-Fi networks are not always available, and where highly granular location data is required, Redpoint’s patent-pending solution includes SafetyNet, a battery-powered infrastructure, along with wireless asset tags and wearable worker safety badges. The firm is targeting general availability for the commercial version of its technology during the fall of 2016, and is now engaged in pilot projects with several leading general contractors nationwide, including Skanska USA (see Redpoint Positioning Launches High-Precision RTLS).

Redpoint has reported that its solution is designed to provide the accuracy of an ultra-wideband (UWB) system at a more affordable price compared with those of other high-precision real-time location system (RTLS) solutions. It uses DecaWave‘s DW1000 chips, which comply with the IEEE 802.15.4-2011 (UWB PHY) standard, and Redpoint has also developed and patented software solutions to provide, for instance, the MAC layer, TDOA schemes and positioning algorithms. Using the DW1000 chip in conjunction with Redpoint’s own software and tag components enables 2-D location accuracy of 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) and 3-D location accuracy of 30 centimeters (11.8 inches), according to the company. Redpoint also incorporates Bluetooth and other wireless technologies into its RTLS solution. The battery-powered tags made with DW1000 chips can act as transceivers, the company explains, and can be set up to create a wireless sensor network (WSN) and RTLS solutions. The tags come with embedded positioning algorithms, while network anchors, also made with the same DecaWave chips, act as satellites that make the Redpoint solution operate like GPS.

“Autodesk cares deeply about the safety of construction workers on project sites, so we support a future that includes context-aware mobile applications and data with that priority in mind,” said Jim Lynch, Autodesk’s VP, in a statement. “We look forward to working with Redpoint to location-enable many of Autodesk’s applications and documents through the Forge Platform extending the value of project data across the construction process.”

Bluvision, Airside Mobile Turn On Android’s Nearby Notifications Feature at Airports

Bluvision, a provider of sensor beacons and real-time location systems (RTLS) using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, has announced that it has partnered with Airside Mobile, the provider of the Mobile Passport app, which enables travelers to bypass airport customs lines, on an implementation of the recently launched Nearby Notifications feature. According to Bluvision, Nearby Notifications provides contextual app and website experiences related to the things in the vicinity of someone using an Android-based smartphone or other tablet.

The Mobile Passport app

Bluvision’s BEEKS BLE beacons are designed for large deployments and long-term enterprises that use and incorporate multiple real-time sensors, including temperature, light and motion. Bluvision’s sensor beacons were recently deployed near the departure and arrival areas at several international airports, including those in San Francisco, Newark, N.J., and San Jose, Calif., as well as at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International airport. The beacons were configured to broadcast the Eddystone UID signal (Eddystone is an open format from Google that enables BLE beacons to communicate with users’ devices), according to Bluvision, so when a passenger comes in close proximity to one of the beacons, that individual receives a notification on his or her Android phone to download the Mobile Passport app.

The new Nearby Notifications experience provides a mechanism for the Eddystone UID broadcast to take a user directly to the Mobile Passport app at the Google Play website, Bluvision explains, greatly simplifying the user’s experience by giving that person the app he or she needs, at the location where it may be the most useful. With the Nearby Notifications feature, Android smartphone users need not search for an app in the Google Play Store; instead, they can simply accept the Nearby Notifications offer to download the app, if they choose to do so. Nearby Notifications can also be configured to direct users to a web URL using the Eddystone URL feature.

According to Subhashree Sukhu, Bluvision’s marketing manager, her company worked with air transport IT company SITA and Airside Mobile in late April and early May to deploy the beacons at the airports. There are anywhere from 20 to 1,000 beacons deployed at each airport, she reports, depending on the business case requirement. “It depends on the business or operational challenge our beacons are being used to solve,” Sukhu states. “Apart from the Nearby Notifications, our beacons are currently being used for recording and tracking in real-time telemetry data like HVAC monitoring, smart building technologies, etc., and being used for RTLS-related wayfinding solutions at the airports.”

Bluvision expects to roll out the solution at another three major international airports within the next 30 days. Sukhu, however, says her company is not yet at liberty to name which airports.

Bluvision supports Nearby Notifications integration with Eddystone UIDs. Eddystone UID allows app creators to use the unique hexadecimal code that is created when an app is published on the Google Play Store, in the beacon’s Eddystone UID broadcast, Bluvision explains. Android devices (running 5.0 or later with Google Play Services 9.2+) receive the Eddystone broadcast, which offers a direct link to the app. Bluvision beacons running Eddystone UID create simple yet powerful means to allow users access to the applications where and when they need them the most, the company says.

According to Bluvision, it has been working with Google throughout the Eddystone development process, providing hardware, testing tools and BLE expertise. Eddystone starter kits can be purchased at Bluvision’s online store.

MicroStrategy Leverages Bluetooth Beacons for Real-time User Behavior Analytics

MicroStrategy, a worldwide provider of enterprise software platforms, has announced that its Usher mobile identity and security analytics platform can leverage Bluetooth beacons in order to locate and track personnel. When an Usher app user is within range of a configured beacon, the app receives a notice from the beacon and captures that user’s location data in MicroStrategy Analytics. This enables a company to assess where its employees are located, as well as perform head counts and other tasks. It can determine, for example, how much a break room is being utilized or what the footfall is during certain events. By using the Usher platform to assign each employee a digital badge, a business can assess workspace utilization, according to Jatin Maniar, MicroStrategy’s senior director of product marketing. Furthermore, he says, it can flag security events, such as an employee attempting to access a sensitive area after hours.

With Usher’s real-time analytics and communication capabilities, MicroStrategy reports, enterprise facility and security managers can respond faster and smarter to incidents and emergencies by communicating, monitoring and tracking users in real time. The beacon-based location data can help administrators to improve their organization’s security posture, respond more effectively to urgent business demands and act during time-sensitive emergency situations, the company indicates. Since Usher unifies identity for physical and logical access, it can correlate certain incidents, Maniar explains—for example, a rogue trader’s entry into a building’s investment offices or a remote employee accessing a data center server. It can also track which systems are accessed by which user from which device and location. In addition, he says, Usher lets businesses quickly view users on a map and instantly communicate with them or send them notifications.

MicroStrategy is offering a free trial of Usher at its Usher website.

T.A.P. Tag Technologies NFC-enables RealTimeRental’s New Mobile App

RealTimeRental, a provider of vacation rental reservation software, and T.A.P. Tag Technologies LLC, a supplier of Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags, have partnered to integrate NFC RFID technology into RealTimeRental’s new mobile app.

T.A.P.’s Targeted Action Platform (T.A.P.) RFID tags can be used to add NFC capabilities to small items, such as key chains, stickers, property sale signs, rental property signs, business cards, and more. The tags work with the new mobile app to display custom messages on rental guests’ NFC-capable smartphones, the company reports, and to communicate with rental agencies.

T.A.P. has a proprietary back-end platform that upholds a sophisticated infrastructure, the company explains, thereby allowing the technology to manage and distribute a variety of data resources. The back-end platform has been integrated with RealTimeRental software so that clients can push rental property information directly from the software to the tag, displaying the information they want a particular guest to have.

While T.A.P. is able to supply a customer with a variety of tags based on its particular business requirements, RealTimeRental says, the most common tag that T.A.P. is supplying for its app is one made with NXP Semiconductors‘ NTAG213 RFID chip.

The RFID tags can also be seamlessly integrated with RealTimeRental’s Tenant portal, Owner Portal and Service Vendor Portal, T.A.P. notes. Using the Tenant Portal, a rental guest can easily tap his or her NFC-capable phone to the tag in order to notify the property manager, the housekeeper and any other contact that he or she has checked out of the rental property. After checking out via the T.A.P. tag, the rental guest can immediately be prompted to reply to a series of questions relating to that individual’s stay. The tags can be programmed to display virtually any message to rental guests, according to T.A.P, whether a reminder to take out the trash and recyclables prior to checkout, or to book their favorite vacation week and rental property for the next season. The system leverages the Service Vendor Portal, enabling maintenance tasks and requirements to be transmitted to the servicing person that is physically at that location via a simple tap of his or her phone.

T.A.P. says it tags are customizable, and that RealTimeRental’s clients are using them in a variety of ways. For example, some clients have placed T.A.P. tags on rental property signs that display interior photos and the property manager’s contact information. Others hand out T.A.P.-tagged key chains or waterproof bracelets to guests upon checking in that link to house rules, area attractions, event calendars and more. Additionally, some clients have T.A.P. tags on their exterior office walls, in order to post hours, phone numbers and featured properties.

RealTimeRental is also leveraging the technology for its own business, T.A.P. reports. The RealTimeRental team uses T.A.P.-tagged key chains that serve as virtual business cards and, when tapped by a NFC-capable smartphone, deliver all information that would be included on a standard business card. The firm also has a T.A.P. tag located outside of its office, against which a person can tap a smartphone in order to view the company’s office hours and links to its website, in case local clients pass by outside of business hours and are seeking information.