RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Turck releases new compact RFID read-write head, tags ••• Guard RFID announces mobile apps for its AllGuard platform ••• Seagull Scientific updates BarTender software ••• Xerafy settles lawsuit with SenseStone and Zhejiang Jiakang Electronics ••• Smartrac unveils Prelams based on NXP's latest Mifare Plus SE chip ••• BluFlux joins DecaWave's partnership program ••• Nursing home in Turkey installs Elpas RTLS from Tyco Security Products ••• Accutech debuts Tag Test Station for wander-prevention and infant-protection systems.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Turck;
Guard RFID Solutions;
Seagull Scientific;
Xerafy, SenseStone Technology, Zhejiang Jiakang Electronics;
Smartrac, NXP Semiconductors;
DecaWave, BluFlux;
Elpas; and
Accutech Security.

Turck Releases New Compact RFID Read-Write Head, Tags

Turck has announced the TB-Q08, a small RFID read-write head compliant with the ISO 15693 standard. Measuring 32 millimeters by 20 millimeters by 8 millimeters (1.3 inches by 0.8 inch by 0.3 inch), the TB-Q08 integrates the antenna, electronics and two LEDs that are visible from all directions. The LEDs indicate a functioning power supply, as well as active read-write operations, to the user.

Turck’s TB-Q08 RFID read-write head and R10 and R12 tags

The rectangular head is IP 67-rated, indicating it is dustproof and waterproof. With a 15-centimeter- (5.9-inch)-long connection cable with an M12 connector, the TB-Q08 is suitable for use in restricted mounting conditions, such as in small assembly and transport lines, according to Turck.

When combined with Turck’s new R10 and R12 tags—measuring 10 millimeters (0.39 inch) and 12 millimeters (0.47 inch) in diameter, respectively—the TB-Q08 works well for the identification of metal objects, the company reports. The new tags, which can be embedded directly in metal, are equipped with a chip that supports password functions, and can be used in conjunction with Turck’s BL ident RFID system for tracking goods within a manufacturing environment, enabling basic brand protection, access protection and access-rights management.

Guard RFID Announces Mobile Apps for Its AllGuard Platform

Guard RFID Solutions has announced that its mobile application clients for its AllGuard Active RFID platform are now available as apps that can be downloaded for free at the Apple iTunes and Google Play online stores.

The AllGuard Mobile app displays the locations of tagged personnel and assets, and also displays system events, including alarms and warnings.

The AllGuard platform is used for real-time tracking, location and security solutions for the health-care, enterprise and industrial markets. The platform employs 433 MHz battery-powered tags that use the communication protocol specified in the IEEE 802.15.4f-2012 standard (see Omni-ID and Guard RFID Release Open-Standard 433 MHz Technology) and support the ISO 18000-7 standard. The AllGuard Mobile app lets users monitor tag events and locations while on the move, according to the company, via either Wi-Fi networks or cellular data connections.

AllGuard Mobile provides users with the ability to view tag events and perform queries to locate assets or personnel, in graphical as well as text formats. Notifications of pre-determined tag events, such as those that create alarms or warnings, are displayed even if AllGuard Mobile is running in the background, the company reports. Such events can also be acknowledged and accepted by authorized users that have provided proper credentials. In addition, the app supports the ability to display the entire population of tagged items, so as to determine personnel demographics in the event of, for example, an incident requiring evacuation.

Seagull Scientific Updates BarTender Software

Seagull Scientific has introduced BarTender 2016, the latest version of its software for creating and automating labels, bar codes, RFID cards and more. The software supports a variety of thermal printers that have RFID capability, including those from Zebra Technologies, SATO, Toshiba TEC, Intermec, Datamax-O’Neil, Printronix, Avery Dennison (including Monarch) and Primera.

According to the company, BarTender 2016 introduces new and enhanced capabilities that improve the design and printing experience, making it easier for users to manage and administer enterprise-scale printing operations. New features include the Integration Builder, Print Portal and Administration Console.

BarTender 2016 expands and advances its support for RFID encoding, including added support for EPC URI syntax (both as an input mechanism and as a method of putting human-readable text on a label) and the ability to specify RFID security settings per document. It now supports all encodings from the latest version of GS1‘s EPC Tag Data Standard (TDS), the company reports, including CPI-VAR and ADI-VAR, and can convert an Electronic Product Code (EPC) to a GS1 application identifier (AI), according to the mapping specified in the TDS, so that a GS1 bar code can easily be sourced from an RFID tag on the same label. There is also more advanced control over EPC Gen 2 security options, including the option to change the password on a per-document or per-label basis.

Xerafy Settles Lawsuit With SenseStone and Zhejiang Jiakang Electronics

Xerafy has announced that the patent litigation it filed in the Southern District of New York against two Chinese companies, SenseStone Technologies and Zhejiang Jiakang Electronics, has been amicably resolved. Cited in the suit were SenseStone’s family of ultra-small metal tags—specifically, the Amber, Jasper, Marble, Opal and Topaz models.

Under the terms of the confidential settlement, SenseStone Technologies and Zhejiang Jiakang Electronics have agreed to take a non-exclusive license to the RFID ceramic tag technology disclosed in Xerafy’s U.S. Patent 8,678,295, and will continue to manufacture and commercialize finished ceramic RFID tags in the United States pursuant to that license, according to Xerafy.

Smartrac Unveils Prelams Based on NXP’s Latest Mifare Plus SE Chip

Smartrac has announced new Prelam inlays—designed for the manufacturing of finished RFID cards—based on NXP Semiconductors‘ Mifare Plus SE chip, which enables Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for authentication, data integrity and encryption. According to Smartrac, the new Prelams are tailored for automated fare collection and enterprise access control applications. They are available in PVC, PETG or PC materials.

NXP’s Mifare Plus SE chip offers 1K EEPROM and full Mifare Classic backward–compatibility, including value block support, offering a solution for upgrading existing Mifare Classic 1K solutions to 128-bit AES security. According to Smartrac, most Mifare Classic customers can map their existing card layout to Mifare Plus SE.

Smartrac’s new Prelam combines all of Mifare Plus SE’s benefits with its inherent durability and ability to sustain excellent electrical performance, the company reports. Compliant with all relevant ISO standards, it is particularly suited to automated fare collection and access control.

BluFlux Joins DecaWave’s Partnership Program

BluFlux, a full-service RF design and test company based in Louisville, Colo., has joined DecaWave‘s Partnership Program.

DecaWave is a fabless semiconductor company specializing in ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, and its Partnership Program is designed to help wireless product developers optimize the performance of new designs based on the DecaWave real-time location systems (RTLS) chipset (see Decawave Launches Partnership Program for UWB Micro-Location Technology).

DecaWave’s Partnership Program also provides technical and application knowledge to help companies design tailored and off-the-shelf solutions to reduce development costs and time to market. The partners leverage DecaWave’s DW1000 chip to design micro-location-based products. The DW1000 chip complies with the IEEE 802.15.4-2011 (UWB PHY) standard (see DecaWave Intros Ultra-wideband Active RFID Module) and operates at data rates of 110 kilobits per second and 6.8 megabits per second. It can locate tagged objects both indoors and outdoors with up to a 10-centimeter (3.9-inch) accuracy, according to the company.

BluFlux offers UWB antenna design, antenna testing, wearable device optimization and over-the-air (OTA) testing, among other services.

“BluFlux expertise in UWB antenna design and their testing capability are unique,” said Jeff Clancy, DecaWave’s RF and design manager, in a prepared statement. “With expertise in personnel tracking, healthcare, and logistics, BluFlux facilitates bringing advanced wireless and connected devices to market.”

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in RTLS applications, particularly for Internet of Things and M2M [machine-to-machine],” added Ben Wilmhoff, BluFlux’s president and founder, in the statement. “DecaWave is a leader in UWB, and we’re very pleased to be joining the company’s Partnership Program and to have the opportunity to better support companies using DecaWave’s product to build the next generation of UWB technology.”

BluFlux joins eight other companies in the Partnership Program: Agilion (Germany), Ciholas (United States), Idolink (South Korea), OpenRTLS (Netherlands), Redpoint Positioning (United States), RTLS LLC (Russia), Sewio (Czech Republic) and WoxuWireless (China).

Nursing Home in Turkey Installs Elpas RTLS from Tyco Security Products

Elpas, part of Tyco Security Products, has announced that the Or Yom Nursing Home, in Istanbul, Turkey, is now using Elpas’ real-time location system (RTLS) to monitor the facility’s 130 residents and 20 staff members. Elpas worked with Turkish systems integrator and distributor Sigmamed on the project.

The nursing home, which opened in 2004, consists of a new building and an older building with thick walls and challenging room configurations. According to Elpas, residents were issued Elpas health-care positioning tags that serve as an active RFID transmitter. The tags work in conjunction with readers installed throughout the two buildings. Residents’ tags are monitored via computers at three nurses stations within the nursing home.

According to Elpas, the system allows the nursing staff to monitor distress calls from residents and determine their locations; receive calls on mobile phones, or via Elpas’ Eiris Go mobile application if they are away from the nurse’s station; and cancel alarms once a staff member has responded to a resident’s call. The Elpas RTLS also provides employees with the ability to send their own distress call or request additional help through the activation of a Code Blue button on a badge. Data from the system is recorded as well, the company adds, so the nursing home can measure response times and track which worker responded to a specific event.

Different implementation approaches were employed, depending on whether the system was to be used in the older or the newer building. Within the older building, which has walls that are more than 2 feet 7 inches thick, Sigmamed installed infrared (IR) readers in each resident’s room, according to Elpas. This part of the facility offers a shared bathroom on each floor, so a single low-frequency (LF) reader was positioned at every bathroom’s entrance. The older building also houses a main dining hall, so a single RF reader was positioned in the center of the hall, enabling it to cover all of the elderly residents gathered there.

Sigmamed was able to use LF readers in the new building with more modern construction. It installed LF readers in individual resident rooms, near each entrance. In this way, if a resident issued a call for assistance, the staff could easily determine the room from which that call originated and respond, whether the person was in the en suite bathroom or in the general living space. Within the facility’s Alzheimer’s unit, readers were positioned so if a resident attempts to wander beyond the confines of the floor, an alarm is sounded.

Accutech Debuts Tag Test Station for Wander-Prevention and Infant-Protection Systems

Accutech Security has announced its Tag Test Station, a new product designed to help customers monitor the battery lives and warranty dates on Accutech Security’s RFID-enabled tags. The station can be used with the company’s anyCuddles infant-protection, Kidz or ResidentGuard wander-management system. The Tag Test Station also allows users to see the tag program number and battery percentage, and has a field for tag notes.

The Tag Test Station is a small receptacle that is wall-mountable or can sit on a desk, the company reports. It connects to any PC or laptop computer via a USB cable. The Tag Test Station will integrate directly with version 7.0 of Accutech’s enterprise software solution, which is free to existing users. This integration provides additional features, including automatic initiation of the admission or discharge process when a tag is placed on the unit. All of Accutech’s tags operate at 418 MHz and can be turned off when not in use, thereby saving battery life. An LED light indicates that a tag is activated.