RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Smartrac announces retail-optimized inlays based on Impinj Monza R6-P chip ••• Touch Technologies' r-touch UHF reader docks with iOS devices ••• DHL Global Forwarding intros mobile app for cold-chain tracking ••• Checkpoint Systems' UNO labels combine RF EAS and Ucode 7 RFID chip ••• Redpoint launches new RTLS badge for construction workforce safety, productivity ••• Phychips unveils RED line of UHF RFID reader modules ••• IDTronic offers silicone RFID-enabled sports wristbands.

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Smartrac;
Touch Technologies;
DHL Global Forwarding;
Checkpoint Systems;
Redpoint Positioning Corp.;
Phychips; and
IDTronic.

Smartrac Announces Retail-Optimized Inlays Based on Impinj Monza R6-P Chip

Smartrac has introduced a range of RAIN RFID inlays based on Impinj's latest Monza R6-P chip. The inlays are optimized for serializing items, such as apparel, electronics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or jewelry, according to the company. Smartrac inlays made with the Monza R6-P chip include the Miniweb, ShortDipole, DogBone, Spine, Viper and Belt models.

The Monza R6-P was introduced in April 2015 (see Impinj Intros New RFID Chips, RFID Reader System-in-Package). The chip is compliant with the RAIN RFID, ISO 18000-63 and EPC Gen 2 standards for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags and readers, and features read sensitivity of up to -22.1 dBm, a dipole antenna, write sensitivity of up to -17.3 dBm, up to 128 bits of Electronic Product Code (EPC) memory, a 48-bit serialized tag identifier (TID) and up to 64 bits of user memory. With Impinj's ItemEncode software, the Monza R6-P offers encoding throughput up to 9,500 tags per minute. With the additional EPC and user memory, kill-password capability and a range-reduction switch, Smartrac reports, advanced usages such as loss prevention, brand protection and enhanced privacy are enabled. The Monza R6-P tag chip also includes such technologies as automatic performance adjustments and encoding diagnostics.

For loss-prevention applications, Smartrac says, brand owners, service bureaus or retailers can write a store code into the user memory of each item's Monza R6-P chip. Thus, an exit gate is able to detect within a few milliseconds whether or not any particular tagged item is sold. Using the kill command and a password, the tag can be rendered unreadable once the item is sold, in order to ensure customer privacy. This prevents the item from being tracked or counted after sale, according to the company.

Chip memory can also be used to store individual brand protection codes (BPC), which are supplied by the brand owner or their representative, for verification by retailers or others at future points in the supply chain, Smartrac reports. The BPC is derived from the chip's unique TID number, which is encoded and fixed by the chip manufacturer.

Touch Technologies' r-touch UHF Reader Docks With iOS Devices

Touch Technologies, a provider of bar-code, RFID and temperature-monitoring solutions, has unveiled r-touch, an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) handheld reader that docks with a smartphone or other device. At present, the reader is designed for Apple iOS devices (iPod Touch, iPhone 5, 6 and 6 Plus), but the company says it is currently in the process of developing readers for iPad tablets as well.

The r-touch reader and case

The r-touch system is composed of three components: a smartphone, a dock that includes the reader engine, and a case that holds the smart device and dock reader together. As new models of the iPhone are released, Touch Technologies explains, customers simply need to change the case and they can continue to use their existing docks. The r-touch supports EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C RFID specifications. According to the company, it has an ultra-compact design for easy carrying and handling in all environments, measuring 141.9 millimeters by 64.4 millimeters by 17.8 millimeters (5.6 inches by 2.5 inches by 0.7 inch). The reader has 24dBm (250mW) of output power. Its battery is charged wirelessly, via a magnetic charger that has the same effect as plugging in a cable, but is much simpler and is not as fragile as a mini-USB connection, the company reports. There are multiple options: the multi-charger, and stand-charger and the mobile-charger.

The r-touch is commercially available worldwide. Other versions include the c-touch, which combines RFID and a 2D bar-code scanner, and the t-touch, a rugged RFID reader.

In addition, Touch Technologies has introduced several versions of its b-touch bar-code scanner. The b-touch 1D works with 1D bar codes, the b-touch 2D is for scanning bar codes and QR codes, and the t-touch 2D is a rugged 2D bar-code scanner.

DHL Global Forwarding Intros Mobile App for Cold-Chain Tracking

DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight specialist of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, has introduced the LifeTrack mobile app. The free application is designed to provide customers in the life sciences and health-care industry with an overview of their shipments, alerts about any in-transit issues, and instant support through round-the-clock access to cold-chain experts.

The LifeTrack mobile app

Android and iOS versions of the LifeTrack mobile app are available for download at the Google Play and iTunes websites. The app gives users on-the-go access to DHL's proprietary online cold-chain tracking and management LifeTrack platform, which is used for monitoring the temperatures of their goods throughout the shipping process, for such temperature-sensitive products as pharmaceuticals or biomedical items. DHL uses ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags with built-in temperature sensors applied to containers. The service was first introduced in mid-2013 (see DHL Thermonet Tracks Drugs and Life-Sciences Goods With RFID Temperature Tag).

Current customers of DHL's Thermonet and LifeConex services are able to access the app with their same credentials as the Web browser version. Once logged in, the application shows shipment details including routing, movement milestones and potential interventions. Upon completion of key logistical events or detection of potential irregularities, the app informs the user and also provides details regarding measures taken where required. In case further support is required, DHL's cold-chain advisors can be contacted 24-7 directly from the app.

The LifeTrack app complements the other mobile solutions that DHL Global Forwarding, Freight launched in recent years to strengthen their client's efficiency and increase transparency during the shipments. Among those are the DHL ActiveTracing app, for tracking and tracing groupage shipments, and the Cargo Mobil Tracking app, for tracing sea and air freight shipments.

Checkpoint Systems' UNO Labels Combine RF EAS and Ucode 7 RFID Chip

Checkpoint Systems has announced dual RF-RFID labels that incorporate Ucode 7 chips from NXP Semiconductors. Unveiled in 2013 (see NXP Releases Ucode 7, a Faster and More Sensitive Chip), the Ucode 7 is an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID integrated circuit that increases read and write sensitivity (meaning the chip requires less power to be interrogated or encoded than previous NXP chips), and greater backscatter strength (to improve read performance).

Rectangular UNO label

According to Checkpoint Systems, the company's patent-pending UNO labels are designed to help retailers protect products in the health, beauty and cosmetics categories, as well as hard goods and apparel merchandise, using their current electronic article surveillance (EAS) infrastructures—while simultaneously delivering RFID benefits in inventory cycle counting and merchandise management for omnichannel fulfillment and automatic replenishment.

The UNO series with the Ucode 7 chip requires less power for increased read and write sensitivity, Checkpoint says, providing faster performance in reading and encoding. It also provides greater broadband width, according to the company, enabling improved functionality internationally, where the UHF band used by a reader varies from region to region. Checkpoint reports that the Ucode 7 will perform reliably regardless of an RFID-tagged item's point of manufacture or destination location.

Square UNO label

UNO labels were specifically developed to make it easier for retailers currently using EAS protection to transition to RFID, by providing the option to apply it to certain merchandise categories and still leverage the EAS infrastructure already in place at stores. According to the company, a health and beauty retailer has successfully begun implementing UNO labels and is already experiencing improved inventory visibility and reduced out-of-stocks.

The UNO series is available now in both rectangle and square form factors. The labels work with a variety of pedestals and the Evolve RFID EAS Overhead Solution.

Redpoint Launches New RTLS Badge for Construction Workforce Safety, Productivity

Redpoint Positioning Corp., a developer of GPS-like indoor-positioning solutions, has announced the Redpoint B3 Workforce Safety Badge—its first commercial employee badge design with a more streamlined design than the company's previous, limited manufacturing prototypes. The badges work with Redpoint's real-time location system (RTLS) is designed to be easy to deploy, even on a temporary basis, in areas where Wi-Fi networks are not always available, and in which highly granular location data is required (see Redpoint Positioning Launches High-Precision RTLS).

Skanska USA and other construction companies are currently engaged in Redpoint-based pilot projects for safety applications that alert workers if they enter a restricted area. The Redpoint solution is also being piloted by several retailers for in-store workforce-management applications.

Unlike traditional personnel ID badge solutions, the Redpoint B3 provides high-precision indoor location information for individuals and assets within a construction jobsite, where traditional GPS solutions do not work, the company explains. The B3 is a compact, wearable ID badge that provides two-way communication and employs Redpoint's Indoor GPS platform to pinpoint its real-time location with up to 8-inch accuracy. The badge includes audible and visible alerts for hazard warnings, an emergency call button and a text-message display called e-Ink for communications.

A Bluetooth interface enables connection to smartphones and tablets for BIM navigation and other context-aware applications. The B3 includes ultra-wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth radios, and interoperates with Bluetooth beacons. It has a local Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) application programming interface (API) so that its real-time location data can be forwarded to any smartphone or tablet, or other smart device. An optional rugged badge frame is available for use in hazardous environments, such as construction jobsites.

Phychips Unveils New Line of UHF RFID Reader Modules

RFID hardware manufacturer Phychips has introduced RED, a new line of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader-writer modules, which includes two versions: the RED4 and the RED5.

The RED4 module is best suited for mid-range handheld readers, RFID-enabled tablets, smartphones, dongles and consumer electronics, according to the company. It has an output of 25dBm. The RED5 module has a 30dBm output and is best suited for long-range PDA readers, tablets and multi-port fixed readers, the company adds.

Both reader modules measure 24 millimeters by 24 millimeters by 3 millimeters (0.9 inch by 0.9 inch by 0.1 inch), are capable of multi-tag reading, and support the EPC Gen2v2 specification and global RFID UHF bands. The modules are easy to use, require no antenna matching, have built-in multi-protocol support and come with a free application programming interface, Phychips reports. Also available is a developer's kit that lets customers test the reader module, as well as a user manual and application notes. In addition, Phychips says it will provide customers with intensive technical support if needed.

IDTronic's Offers Silicone RFID-enabled Sports Wristband

IDTronic, an RFID hardware provider based in Germany, has announced a new silicone RFID wristband for access-control applications. The new Silicone Sports wristband is designed for fitness and wellness facilities, the company notes, including swimming pools and for use as an alternative to contactless RFID cards.

The wristband is available with a variety of options, including being laser-engraved, stamped or printed with a company's logo, a thermo-printed serial and unique ID number, and a choice of colors and sizes. The band is available with the most common low-frequency (LF) 125 KHz, high-frequency (HF) 13.65 MHz and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) chip types from all leading integrated circuit (IC) producers, IDTronic reports, such as EM Microelectronic and NXP Semiconductors.