RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

HID Global intros ceramic Brick and Slimflex on-metal tags ••• GAO RFID launches new 2.45 GHz active readers ••• Smartrac unveils extra-compact UHF RFID inlays for retail applications ••• OnlineLabels.com adds RFID labels to product lineup ••• Datalogic acquires 20 percent stake in CAEN RFID ••• TimBar uses Shelfbucks' beacon platform for point-of-purchase displays.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
HID Global;
GAO RFID;
Smartrac;
OnlineLabels.com;
Datalogic, CAEN RFID;
Shelfbucks, and TimBar Packaging & Display.

HID Global Intros Ceramic Brick and SlimFlex On-Metal Tags

HID Global, a worldwide leader in secure identity solutions, has announced new Brick Tag Ceramic ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) transponders and SlimFlex high-frequency (HF) on-metal (OM) tags that the company says are designed and architected to withstand environments requiring metal applications while complying with evolving industry standards.

The Brick Tag Ceramic transponders feature small footprints (making them suitable for space-restricted applications) and are designed for applications involving metal assets, such as tools, weaponry and surgical instrumentation. The Brick Tag Ceramic is available in four sizes, ranging from 0.2 inch by 0.2 inch by 0.1 inch (5 millimeters by 5 millimeters by 3 millimeters) to 0.9 inch by 0.4 inch by 0.1 inch (23 millimeters by 9 millimeters by 3 millimeters). The tags feature the EPC Gen 2-compliant Alien Technology‘s Higgs-3 RFID chip with 512 bits of memory and is readable and writeable from a distance of up to 3.3 feet (1 meter). The tags have a hard ceramic exterior shield to protect them from exposure to extreme conditions and are IP67-rated, signifying that they are dustproof and waterproof. In order to facilitate a long-lasting fixture of Brick Tags, HID Global works closely with Henkel, a provider for adhesives, sealants and functional coatings.

The SlimFlex HF OM tag is suitable for industrial applications, including safety checks on equipment for preventive and corrective maintenance, according to HID Global. It features NXP Semiconductors‘ ICode SLIX chip and supports the ISO 15693-3 and NFC-V (Type 5 Tag) standards. It measures just over 3 inches by 1 inch (83 millimeters by 25 millimeters), and is less than a quarter-inch (6 millimeters) in thickness. The tag has a thermoplastic elastomer housing (white or yellow) that can be mounted with cable ties to pipes or other curved metal surfaces, as well as three mount holes per side for affixing to objects. When formatted with an NDEF data structure, HID Global reports, the SlimFlex HF OM tag is fully NFC Type 5-compliant and can be read using a smartphone.

GAO RFID Launches New 2.45 GHz Active Readers

GAO RFID has announced a new range of RFID readers that the company says is capable of identifying GAO’s proprietary 2.45 GHz battery-powered RFID tags from a distance of up to 100 meters (328 feet) away. Included in this family of readers is the 2.45 GHz Gain Adjustable RFID Reader with Wi-Fi capabilities (product ID: 217002), the Handheld 2.45 GHz RFID Reader (product ID: 217005) that also functions as a bar-code scanner, and the Portable 2.45 GHz USB RFID Reader (product ID: 217003). Each model can be used for a variety of applications that require the identification and tracking of assets, inventories and monitoring, the company reports.

GAO’s gain-adjustable reader (product ID: 217002)

With the gain-adjustable reader, a user can control the device’s sensitivity by adjusting the antenna gain. This allows the reader to boast a very flexible tag identification range that can be as low as 3 meters (9.8 feet) and up to 100 meters (328 feet) away, according to GAO RFID, and the flexible range ensures selective targeting of RFID tags by distance, which allows users to set up a variety configurations to meet their needs using a single type of RFID reader. The reader has a direct mode and a buffering mode. In direct mode, it uploads messages to a host system in real time via an 802.11b Wi-Fi connection. In buffering mode, it receives and saves up to 800 data sets of the last read tags, which are uploaded only when requested by the host system.

The new handheld reader is a sturdy, dust-proof and waterproof handheld unit built for onsite use that comes with a 3.2-inch touchscreen and economical power consumption, according to GAO RFID. The device is equipped with a USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and optional GPS capabilities, and uses a Microsoft Windows-based operating system that runs the RFID data-collection software. It also features 1D and 2D bar-code scanning capabilities for applications requiring both RFID and bar-code technologies. Other optional add-ons enable the integration of high-frequency (HF) or low-frequency (LF) RFID modules, allowing it to operate as a dual-frequency RFID reader. The device is well suited for applications involving logistics, supply chain and warehouse management, GAO RFID reports.

GAO’s USB RFID reader (product ID: 217003)

The USB RFID reader is a small device that measures 59 millimeters by 18 millimeters by 9 millimeters (2.3 inches by 0.7 inch by 0.4 inch) and offers a read range of up to 20 meters (66 feet). The reader, which plugs into any USB-enabled computer, operates in two different modes. In direct mode, it transfers its data to the host computer in real time. In buffer mode, the device can store its last 100 received messages and upload them only when requested.

Smartrac Unveils Extra-Compact UHF RFID Inlays for Retail Applications

Smartrac has introduced its new Accessory and Bling passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlays, adding to the company’s existing portfolio of RAIN RFID products. The Accessory inlay is optimized for accessory and cosmetics applications, according to Smartrac, while the even tinier Bling is designed especially for jewelry.

Smartrac Accessory

The Accessory inlay has a die-cut size of 33 millimeters by 18 millimeters (1.3 inches by 0.7 inch), allowing it to be easily converted into a small hangtag for accessories or cosmetic items, Smartrac reports. The Bling inlay has a die-cut size of 25 millimeters by 15 millimeters (1.0 inch by 0.6 inch), enabling easy conversion into a small hangtag especially designed for jewelry.

Both are equipped with Impinj‘s Monza R6 chip, which is designed to make such tags more sensitive, with a longer read range and features to help increase the yield of properly functioning tags during manufacturing and encoding processes (see New Impinj Chip Promises Higher Sensitivity, Read Range and Flexibility). The Monza R6 comes with an Autotune feature, which Smartrac says helps its inlays work at peak efficiency, even in rapidly changing environments. Both inlays offer a unique tag identifier (TID) and a pre-serialized Electronic Product Code (EPC), and are 100 percent performance-tested, the company says. Available in dry, wet and paper tag delivery formats, the inlays and tags are also suitable for full integration into the Smart Cosmos Cloud-based services platform.

Bling inlay

Smartrac’s other Monza R6-based inlays include the MiniWeb, ShortDipole, DogBone, Spine, Viper and Belt. The accessory is available in high-volume quantities now, with Bling expected to be made available at the end of the first quarter of 2016.

OnlineLabels.com Adds RFID Labels to Product Lineup

OnlineLabels.com, which sells blank and printed labels, has announced that it has recently added thermal-transfer RFID labels to its product line. The new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID labels, the company reports, are aimed at providing new and existing RFID roll users with a selection of competitively priced options suitable for access control, file tracking and many other closed-loop applications.

The initial launch of the RFID roll label product line includes six different labels compatible with Zebra Technologies‘ RFID printers that accept a 3-inch core, including Zebra’s R110xi, R170xi, R110xi4, ZT410 and ZT420 models. The six labels, which vary in size from 1 inch by 4 inches to 4 inches by 6 inches, are manufactured with either Alien Technology‘s Squiggle inlay made with a Higgs-3 chip (offering 800 bits of total memory) or Avery Dennison‘s AD227m5 inlay made with an Impinj Monza 5 chip (offering 128 bits of EPC memory and 32 bits of user memory). The labels have a coated white matte finish and feature permanent adhesive.

Datalogic Acquires 20 Percent Stake in CAEN RFID

Datalogic Group, a global provider of bar-code readers; mobile computers; sensors for detection, measurement and safety; vision systems; and laser-marking equipment, has announced a new investment in RFID technology via a 20 percent acquisition of CAEN RFID, a global provider of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID products. Datalogic will become a shareholder of CAEN RFID through a capital increase of €550,000 ($617,000), to drive company development and growth, the company says. As part of the agreement, the two companies also will collaborate on the development of new products and the integration of Datalogic’s and CAEN RFID’s current offerings and solutions.

According to Datalogic, the acquisition enables Datalogic to widen its product offering, particularly in the retail (non-food), warehousing, transportation and logistics segments, through the co-development of new products and managing new application areas with a high growth rate.

“With this operation Datalogic confirms its strong focus on technology, with a wide vision. Indeed, thanks to this agreement with CAEN RFID, Datalogic can extend its offer with the development of complementary technology products, improve its competitive position and expand its presence in a highly innovative market with a strong potential for growth,” said Romano Volta, Datalogic’s chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement. “The Datalogic Group can offer its partners and customers the best solutions in all the sectors in which it operates, while keeping a watchful eye on new business opportunities and innovative technology.”

Marcello Givoletti, CAEN Group’s CEO, added in the statement, “With this synergy between the two companies, CAEN RFID’s current offer, which already covers all the typical areas of application of the technology, can be widened and improved. I would also like to recall the fact that CAEN RFID was one of the first partners of EPCglobal, the consortium that defined the standards that are now globally recognized and accepted.”

Datalogic Group offers solutions for a range of applications in the retail, transportation, logistics, manufacturing and health-care industries. CAEN RFID’s product portfolio includes such products as the qIDmini, a keyfob Bluetooth UHF RFID reader of its easy2read family and integrated UHF RFID USB/Bluetooth Interrogators. Its portfolio also includes, among other products, specialty EPC Gen 2 (ISO 18000-6C) RFID tags for a variety of automatic-identification applications in fashion, food, manufacturing, public administration, logistics, transportation and other applications, UHF electronic seals (e-seals), and UHF readers and reader gates.

TimBar Uses Shelfbucks’ Beacon Platform for Point-Of-Purchase Displays

Shelfbucks, an Austin, Texas, startup that provides a beacon-enabled in-store marketing platform for retail stores and brands, has announced a partnership with TimBar Packaging & Display. TimBar will incorporate the Shelfbucks platform into its customer point-of-purchase (POP) displays, Shelfbucks indicates, enabling brands and retailers to actively measure, manage and improve the effectiveness of in-store promotional merchandising campaigns. The agreement expands Shelfbucks’ in-store ecosystem, making the company’s SmartDisplays available to consumer brands that TimBar serves in retail stores throughout the United States, the company says.

Shelfbucks’ solution consists of hybrid beacons that combine Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon and Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technologies so they can communicate with any smartphone featuring either NFC or BLE compatibility, as well as a Shelfbucks application downloaded to manage the collected data (see Shelfbucks’ Bluetooth-NFC Beacons Bring Discounts to Tarrytown Pharmacy’s Shoppers and GameStop Has Long-Term Plans for Short-Range Beacons).

The new TimBar POP displays will incorporate Shelfbucks’ SmartDisplay platform into brand point-of-purchase (POP) merchandising, providing consumer packaged goods companies and retail partners with real-time, measurable data regarding when and where displays are installed within retail stores, Shelfbucks explains. The SmartDisplay technology will also provide detailed data on performance against marketing goals, enabling brands to adjust their campaigns to maximize sales. Shoppers browsing a product area may interact with the TimBar Shelfbucks-enabled displays using their smartphones to access product content, promotional offers, ratings, reviews and other relevant product information.

TimBar and Shelfbucks will jointly roll out the new displays instore this year.