RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Checkpoint Systems intros Sense + Respond solution based on Microsoft Azure ••• Invengo acquires stake in ATID ••• Mojix offers OmniSenseRF inventory service for retailers ••• German retailer Gerry Weber selects Tyco Retail Solutions' TrueVUE software ••• Fujitsu launches UHF RFID tags for fashion apparel, accessories ••• Nedap unveils high-end UHF RFID solution for vehicle identification ••• FAA publishes draft revised advisory for use of RFID on aviation products, equipment.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Checkpoint Systems;
Invengo Acquires, Atid;
Mojix;
Gerry Weber, Tyco Retail Solutions;
Fujitsu;
Nedap; and the
Federal Aviation Administration.

Checkpoint Systems Intros Sense + Respond Solution Based on Microsoft Azure

Checkpoint Systems has announced that it has collaborated with Microsoft to bring Checkpoint’s RFID Merchandise Visibility solutions to the cloud and add new functionality via Microsoft analytical tools. The result is a cloud-based merchandise-visibility solution called Sense + Respond that, according to Checkpoint Systems, is designed to provide multi-channel retailers with a solution to gather real-time insights and perform predictive analytics that is fast and easy to deploy.

Sense + Respond uses Checkpoint Systems’ OAT Foundation Suite (which the company describes as an Internet of Things platform), along with Microsoft Azure Cloud Solutions. The combination, the firm reports, is designed to help retailers make more informed business decisions in real time. The combination differs in certain ways from Checkpoint Systems’ previously released Merchandise Visibility solutions and offers some new functionality. For example, Sense + Respond provides dynamic information regarding shoppers and the retailer, versus static reporting. Microsoft Azure also adds faster data computation for near-real-time actionable feedback, and the solution is built on a scalable, elastic infrastructure for faster application and use-case development, which broadens the use of RFID. In addition, the solution includes big-data storage and processing for machine learning and predictive analytics.

Sense + Respond, Checkpoint says, helps improve retail revenue by increasing customer engagement and conversion across channels through real-time, sensor-enabled shopper insights integrated with systems of record and business-intelligence tools. It is also designed to improve supply chain agility and optimize last-mile delivery via real-time inventory transparency and order-fulfillment process automation, as well as increase in-store shelf availability through improved inventory tracking and accuracy. Because the solution is cloud-based and built on a hybrid IT architecture, Checkpoint reports, it can be deployed faster and offers a lower total cost of ownership. The solution integrates multi-modal sensor data—RFID, Near Field Communication (NFC), location-based and so forth—with retailers’ existing systems of record, and provides actionable insights to retailers by integrating Checkpoint’s IoT data and machine learning with Microsoft Azure for data mining and predictive analytics capabilities, according to Checkpoint Systems.

Checkpoint will offer this new solution through its worldwide sales teams beginning in early 2016. The company will demonstrate the Sense + Respond solution at Microsoft‘s booth (#2803), during the National Retail Federation‘s Big Show, being held on Jan. 17-19 in New York City.

Invengo Acquires Stake in ATID

Global RFID provider Invengo Technology has announced that it has acquired a stake in ATID, a handheld device specialist headquartered in Seoul, Korea. According to Invengo, the acquisition gives the company the ability to create a broad, functional RFID portfolio covering every component necessary for solution partners to solve customers’ system needs—all from a single source. This year, the Invengo channel will begin to stock ATID’s primary products, ensuring support and availability in multiple regions. In addition, Invengo reports, the ATID channel will continue to function, so existing ATID partners may continue to acquire their products as usual.

The transaction represents a majority stake, according to Scott Medford, Invengo’s chief sales officer, adding that “the valuation and our purchase price will become public when the Invengo annual report is released. Our company doesn’t want to disclose all the terms prior to that.”

The transaction was completed in September 2015, Medford says, but it has taken time to finalize details. “Going forward, the integration and cooperation between the teams will be managed so that all parties are properly represented,” he states. “A transaction such as this can be traumatic to both sides, and we intend to take our time to efficiently join the organizations.”

Invengo recently announced its InPower Channel program, offering a wide range of fixed readers, handheld devices and antennas to complement its existing portfolio of RFID tags and inlays. ATID’s partners will also be offered the opportunity to enhance their product portfolio by joining the InPower Channel program if they desire other Invengo products. The support provided by the Invengo InPower distributors and partner community now makes implementation of RAIN RFID solutions much more efficient, the company says.

Mojix Offers OmniSenseRF Inventory Service for Retailers

Mojix, a provider of wide-area RFID systems and Internet of Things platform software, has announced the OmniSenseRF, an end-to-end, always-on, inventory-management solution available to retailers on a monthly service basis.

The solution is designed to provide a lower entry cost to RFID, the company reports, so retailers can more quickly realize value. OmniSenseRF delivers Mojix’s software and hardware as a service, and its benefits include painless software upgrades and maintenance, a pay-as-you-go model that reduces budget impact and eases financial planning, vendor-managed hardware, and integration with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software via a RESTful application programming interface (API). The solution also provides retailers with the ability to scale up an implementation seamlessly, Mojix says, making it easier to plan and manage a chain-wide rollout.

OmniSenseRF is designed to help boost sales by eliminating out-of-stocks and improving the customer experience, increase gross margins by reducing markdowns and optimizing product assortment, enable omnichannel fulfillment by providing high-confidence inventory data with location, and reduce shrinkage by exposing patterns of loss on which management can act. It also is designed to reduce working capital by optimizing inventory replenishment levels, and to provide store-level visibility to corporate management to enable data-driven decision making.

The OmniSenseRF service is built on Mojix’s overhead-mounted STAR RFID hardware and ViZix IoT platform software. The ViZix platform is a browser-accessible, cloud-based, IoT platform that provides a RESTful API for seamlessly interfacing with ERP, point-of-sale (POS), electronic article surveillance (EAS) and other software. According to Mojix, because it can simultaneously perform complex event processing (CEP) on multiple sources of data besides RFID, the ViZix platform will enable the firm to organically extend and enhance the capability enjoyed by users of the service.

Mojix will showcase its RFID-based inventory-management capability at Cellotape Smart Products‘ booth (#1247), during the NRF Big Show.

German Retailer Gerry Weber Selects Tyco Retail Solutions’ TrueVUE Software

Tyco Retail Solutions has announced that Gerry Weber, a German fashion and lifestyle company, has selected its RFID-enabled TrueVUE Inventory Visibility application for the retailer’s RFID initiative for item-level inventory visibility and accuracy at 800 stores. Tyco’s TrueVUE Inventory Visibility software will replace the retailer’s existing RFID solution, Tyco reports, enabling it to leverage RFID for a number of use cases in support of their business.

In 2009, Gerry Weber announced its plan to tag all of the garments it produces and sells (see Gerry Weber Sews In RFID’s Benefits). Currently, according to Tyco, it RFID-tags approximately 30 million items per year. The retailer uses RFID for logistics, retail processes and loss prevention. To enhance inventory accuracy and in-store stock availability, Tyco says, Gerry Weber will deploy Tyco’s RFID application for use with receiving, cycle counting, product locating, point-of-sale (POS), loss prevention, sales floor replenishment and merchandise transfer. The new RFID-enabled visibility into exact quantity and location of items—by style, size and color—will help to ensure on-floor availability and timely, accurate sales floor replenishment to satisfy shopper needs, according to Tyco. In addition to the TrueVUE Inventory Visibility application, Tyco will provide the retailer with professional services to manage its project.

Earlier this week, Tyco Retail Solutions unveiled a new set of RFID-based applications available on the TrueVUE platform, including Display Execution and Storefront Visibility. With packaged applications, Tyco explains, retail organizations can introduce the technology in a modular fashion and derive immediate benefits with minimal disruption to their infrastructure, investment and business processes.

Fujitsu Launches UHF RFID Tag for Fashion Apparel, Accessories

Fujitsu Frontech North America Inc. has unveiled a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag suitable for fashion apparel, garments and accessories. Fujitsu’s new WT-A522L tag is about the size of a typical shirt collar stay, according to the company, and is virtually invisible when installed in the sheerest of garments.

The WT-A522L tag measures 55 millimeters by 10 millimeters by 0.3 millimeters (2.2 inches by 0.4 inch by 0.1 inch) and is suitable for typical home washing or dry-cleaning. Additionally, Fujitsu says, it is ironing-safe. The tag is made from transparent materials, making it suitable for apparel and accessories made of fine silks, lace and other sheer materials. It is designed to provide fashion designers and retailers with protection against counterfeiting and fraud, as well as more precise tracking of rental garments and accessories at the item level, without employees having to individually read bar codes. According to the company, the tag can easily be sewn into a hem or seam or under a manufacturer’s label, and Fujitsu is also offering an adhesive version of the tag for use on shoes, handbags and accessories.

Fujitsu’s WT-A522L tag

The new tag enables bulk reading of hundreds of articles simultaneously within seconds, Fujitsu claims, with a reading range of more than 6 feet. Bulk reading enables streamlined automated processes and significant reductions in labor costs compared with those of typical bar-codes system—which, according to the company, require that each individual garment be processed manually. The tag conforms to the EPC Gen 2 specification, and each tag has a unique ID number pre-encoded in its Electronic Product Code (EPC), thereby inhibiting fraud and counterfeiting.

The WT-A522L tag is expected to be made available at the end of the first quarter of 2016. Fujitsu will show the new tag at its booth (#3805), during the National Retail Federation‘s 2016 convention and expo.

Nedap Unveils High-End UHF RFID Solution for Vehicle Identification

Nedap has announced its uPASS Target, a high-end RFID reader that offers long-range identification and uses the Rain RFID ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 standard. The uPASS Target is designed for applications in which vehicles and other moving objects need to be identified automatically via passive RFID tags. The new reader offers a read range of up to 10 meters (33 feet), the company reports, making it suitable for the long-range identification of vehicles, individuals and rolling stock at industrial sites and logistics depots.

uPASS Target UHF Reader

The uPASS Target is designed to identify vehicles and drivers at a distance of up to 10 meters and a traveling speed of up to 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour) by using passive UHF RFID technology (865 to 868 MHz or 902 to 928 MHz). It features a variety of industry-standard communication interfaces (IP, serial and Wiegand), as well as an aluminum chassis with a UL94 ABS cover.

Standard features, Nedap indicates, include configurable three-color LED indication, a read range limitation option, reader output formatting and easy installation. It features a circular polarized antenna that enables freedom of tag orientation and, according to Nedap, ensures a consistent read range. An optional external antenna can be added to achieve a wider or more focused read range. Nedap formatted tags are available for added security.

FAA Publishes Draft Revised Advisory for RFID Use on Aviation Products, Equipment

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published a revised advisory circular (AC) that offers guidance on installing and using RFID systems on aviation products and equipment. The revised advisory circular, known as AC 20-162A, provides guidance for the proper installation and use of passive RFID tags as installed on aircraft parts and components. The revision overrides an older version, AC 20-162, issued on Sept. 22, 2008.

This AC includes the latest revision of SAE International‘s Aerospace Standard (AS) 5678A for passive RFID tags intended for aircraft use. The standard spells out requirements regarding a tag’s ability to withstand specific variations in temperature, air pressure, vibration, shock and other environmental factors. The revised-draft AC removes guidance on operational approval of RFID tags and airworthiness approval of low-power active RFID tags or battery-assisted passive RFID tags, while adding criteria to prevent changes to the tags’ identification record and data. It covers only passive UHF RFID tags installed on aircraft, engines, propellers, parts and components, and does not cover RFID tags that communicate via cellular or satellite telephone technology, wireless wide-area networks, high-power radio transmitters or other types of tracking devices. The draft AC also does not cover battery-assisted passive RFID tags or active RFID tags.

The draft-revised AC affects manufacturers and modifiers of aviation products and equipment that want to install passive RFID tags on 14 CFR parts 23, 25, 27, 29, 33, and 35 aircraft, as well as aircraft engines, propellers, parts and components thereof. The draft AC is not mandatory and does not constitute a regulation, according to the FAA. Rather, it describes an acceptable means, but not the only means, of complying with these requirements. The draft AC does specify, however, that if organizations use the means described in this AC, they follow it in all important aspects. The term “must” is used to indicate mandatory requirements when following the guidance, while the term “should” is used to indicate that the guidance is recommended, but not required, to comply with this AC.

The FAA is seeking comments, which are due on Feb. 8, 2016. Comments can be mailed, faxed or hand-delivered. More information is available at the FAA’s website.