RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Great Wolf Lodge Southern California installs PDC's Smart Band RFID Wristband System ••• TSL announces compatibility with Tagit Ice jewelry-tracking app ••• Vizinex RFID releases Sentry Shortie 270 RFID tag ••• Handheld Group adds RFID to its ALGIZ RT7 Android tablet ••• Visa intros NFC-enabled payment ring for Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Great Wolf Lodge Southern California, PDC; Technology Solution (UK) Ltd., Tagit; Vizinex; Handheld Group; and
Visa.

Great Wolf Lodge Southern California Installs PDC's Smart Band RFID Wristband System

PDC, a provider of identification solutions, has announced the installation of its Smart Band RFID Wristband System at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California, the brand's newest property located in Garden Grove.

PDC's system, which is being used for electronic access control and cashless payments, replaces traditional forms of payment and access credentials usually carried in a user's wallet, purse or pocket. PDC's RFID technology leverages 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags embedded in the wristbands that safely collect and transfer data when scanned by a reader in the park. Each chip is programmed with a unique alpha-numeric code assigned to a guest portfolio, so the bands are impossible to duplicate.

Great Wolf's PDC wristbands

Upon checking in, Great Wolf Lodge's guests are issued a non-transferable, waterproof PDC Smart Band that they can use for keyless room entry, food purchases, game tokens and other applications, as well as for entering the resort's water park. The wristbands also act as a means of identifying the patrons as guests. For hotel room access, Smart Band's contactless interface provides advantages over standard magnetic-stripe key-card door locks, PDC reports, which can collect dirt and debris that impact performance. Since the Smart Band is safely fastened around a wearer's wrist, the company says, guests no longer need to hassle with forgotten, lost or misplaced key cards.

Great Wolf Lodge Southern California is the latest of nine Great Wolf Lodge resorts to introduce PDC's RFID wristband technology during the past 11 years (see Great Wolf Lodge New England Implements PDC's Smart Band RFID System, Great Wolf Lodge Combines Storytelling With RFID and Great Wolf Water Park Launches RFID).

The Smart Band can be completely customized and is offered in a wide variety of colors and material options, including plastic, silicone, woven fabric and thermal print-on-demand styles. The wristband is available with nontransferable single-use closures, and in re-wearable styles for single-day use or for a season-pass program.

TSL Announces Compatibility With Tagit ICE Jewelry-Tracking App

Technology Solution (UK) Ltd. (TSL) has announced that its 1128 Bluetooth UHF Reader, an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader, is compatible with a new version of Tagit Ice, an application used in luxury retail and the diamond and jewelry industries, created by Tagit, an RFID company in Dubai. A new version of the cloud-based Tagit Ice app is now available for Android devices, and is designed for inventorying, stock-checking, tracking and batch-scanning items. The Tagit Ice app is available now at the Google Play website.

TSL's 1128 Bluetooth UHF RFID Reader is designed to read and write data to EPC Gen 2 (ISO 18000-6C) UHF transponders, and to communicate with a variety of host devices via Bluetooth wireless technology. It is made with an Impinj R2000 reader chip, and features a range of interchangeable high-performance antennas. The reader can be configured with 2D data scanning and brings UHF RFID scanning to devices running a wide range of operating systems, including Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows Mobile, WinCE and Windows XP/Vista/7/8. The 1128 Bluetooth UHF RFID Reader is compatible with Bluetooth-enabled host devices, including enterprise handhelds, consumer smartphones, touchscreen MP3 players, tablets and PCs.

Vizinex RFID Releases Sentry Shortie 270 RFID Tag

RFID tag maker Vizinex RFID has launched a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag for mounting on metal. The Sentry Shortie 270 is the company's smallest tag and, according to Vizinex, is suitable for tracking small metal objects, such as weapons and tools.

Measuring 26 millimeters by 6.9 millimeters by 2.8 millimeters (1.02 inches by 0.27 inch by 0.11 inch) and weighing 0.8 gram, the Sentry Shortie 270 is a mount-on-metal tag. Made with an Alien Technology Higgs3 chip, the tag provides 96 bits of Electronic Product Code (EPC) memory, as well as 512 bits of user memory. It is offered in U.S. and E.U. frequencies, and an embeddable version is also available for customers looking to mount the tag within the body of a tagged object.

Vizinex RFID's Sentry Shortie 270 tag

With the available high temperature/high impact (HT/HI) upgrade, the tag's temperature tolerance is -58 degrees to +365 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees to +185 degrees Celsius). According to Vizinex, the tag is resistant to rough handling and aggressive chemistries, and—with the HT/HI upgrade—can survive hundreds of autoclave cycles.

"We're excited to launch the Shortie 270. This is the smallest tag in our portfolio, and it was developed in response to customers' requests for a tag that can be used for tool and weapons tracking, where footprint for mounting a tag is at a premium," said Ken Horton, Vizinex's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Despite its diminutive footprint, the tag provides a read range of 3-5 feet, which is plenty for the 'check-in/check-out' applications in which it is often used. It is much less expensive than the ceramic tags that are sometimes specified for these applications and has the added advantage that the customer can specify a barcode label for the tag."

Handheld Group Adds RFID to Its ALGIZ RT7 Android Tablet

Handheld Group, a manufacturer of rugged mobile computers, has announced the Algiz RT7 eTicket, a new version of its Algiz RT7 Android tablet that features a specialized RFID reader so transit workers can use it for mobile-ticketing tasks.

The Algiz RT7 eTicket is lightweight, weighing just 660 grams (23.3 ounces), the company reports, and has a rugged design suitable for mobile transit environments. The tablet has an IP65 rating, signifying it as waterproof and fully protected against sand and dust. It also meets stringent MIL-STD-810G standards against extreme temperatures, drops and vibrations, Handheld Group adds.

The Algiz RT7 eTicket

The tablet has an integrated Arcontia smart-card reader compatible with NXP Semiconductors' entire family of Mifare RFID chips. It supports ISO and ISO14443 type A/B RFID tags or cards, and comes with two integrated Secure Access Modules (SAM) for secure transactions.

Other features include Google GMS certification that allows access to the Google Play Store and Google Maps, a touchscreen with multi-touch capability, sunlight readability and chemically strengthened glass, an 8-megapixel camera and multiple connectivity options. It also provides dual subscriber identity module (SIM) card slots, an integrated GPS receiver and a dedicated 2-D bar-code imager. This latest product, the company reports, continues Handheld Group's commitment to revolutionizing mobile fare collection.

"Major transit agencies around the world have deployed our devices," said Johan Hed, Handheld Group's director of product management, in a prepared statement. "They've seen quick return on investment, because using smart mobile devices streamlines what has traditionally been a slow, labor-intensive process. Clients have reported completing more tasks, fewer riders evading the ticket system, and increased fee revenues approaching 20 percent."

The Algiz RT7 eTicket is available now.

Visa Intros NFC-Enabled Payment Ring for Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Visa has introduced a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled payment ring, backed by a Visa account, that will be given to all Team Visa athletes for use at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. The Visa payment ring will allow Team Visa athletes to make purchases by tapping their rings at any NFC-capable payment terminal. Visa Team athletes, the company explains, are groups of 45 Olympic hopefuls from around the world who embody Visa's values of acceptance, partnership and innovation.

The ring uses the patented NFC Ring design of McLear & Co. (see Grasping for the Golden (NFC) Ring), which includes a secure microchip made by French smart-card and digital-security company Gemalto, with an embedded NFC-enabled antenna. The ring does not require the use of a battery or recharging, and is water-resistant to a depth of 50 meters (164 feet)—which, according to Visa, means that Team Visa athletes like Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin can go from the pool to payment by simply tapping the ring.

Visa's payment ring

In addition, Visa says it recently demonstrated an advanced prototype version of the Visa payment ring, which uses token technology provided through Visa Token Service. , The company reports that its token technology replaces sensitive payment information, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier that can be used to process payments without exposing actual account details.

"Visa's first payment ring puts smart payment technology right on the hands of our athletes for convenient and easy payments," said Jim McCarthy, Visa's executive VP of innovation and strategic partnerships, in the statement. "This ring is the latest example of how Visa is continuously innovating to deliver on its goal of universal acceptance at the games and across the world."