RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

GuardRFID unveils proximity tag exciter for room- or bed-level location ••• Bluewater Health selects Awarepoint RTLS ••• Texas A&M picks Apptricity RFID solution to manage Corps of Cadets uniforms ••• Norway Post expands implementation of Nedap's multi-access RFID solution ••• Thinfilm, Ypsomed partner on NFC-enabled injection systems for self-medication ••• Fujitsu outfits work van with RFID, GPS, sensors and more.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Guard RFID Solutions;
Bluewater Health, Awarepoint;
Texas A&M, Apptricity;
Norway Post, Nedap;
Thinfilm, Ypsomed; and
Fujitsu.

GuardRFID Unveils Proximity Tag Exciter for Room- or Bed-Level Location

Guard RFID Solutions, a British Columbian active RFID company, has announced a new device designed to detect individuals or assets within a confined area or at close range. The Proximity Tag Exciter (PTE) device, which works in conjunction with GuardRFID’s 433 MHz battery-powered tags, is suitable for applications requiring room- or bed-level location capability in hospitals, the company reports. It creates a tag-capture zone whose radius can be adjusted to fit a particular application’s tag-detection range requirements.

GuardRFID’s 433 MHz tags use the communication protocol specified in the IEEE 802.15.4f-2012 standard and also support the ISO 18000-7 standard. The company’s solutions are suitable for asset tracking and patient security at health-care facilities, as well as personnel accountability and mustering applications. The nature of the 433 MHz frequency band is suitable for these applications, according to GuardRFID, because it allows the creation of small, low-power tags with a long transmission range and the ability to work in the presence of densely populated metal structures. The company’s solutions include TotGuard Infant Security, AllGuard Wandering Patient Protection, SafeGuard Staff Duress and AllGuard Asset Tracking, all specifically developed for health-care facilities, as well as AllGuard Personnel Safety and Accountability, AllGuard Yard Management, and AllGuard Asset Tracking and Security for deployment in industrial and enterprise environments.

The PTE uses a low-frequency (LF) radio signal for communicating with GuardRFID’s tags; the signal penetrates through most materials, and communications thus cannot be disrupted if the tag is concealed or if there are physical obstacles between the device and a tag. As this property of radio waves means that the signal can also penetrate through walls, GuardRFID has developed special system configurations allowing the use of the PTE for accurate location within rooms, closets and other confined spaces. GuardRFID has successfully deployed several systems that employ these configurations to provide precise room-level location capabilities at several hospitals.

“Demand for precise room- and bed-level location of patients, staff and assets has been steadily increasing as hospitals recognize its value for enhancing real-time patient workflow and staff security,” said Doug Stevens, GuardRFID’s VP of sales and marketing for health care, in a prepared statement. “Whereas GuardRFID has already deployed systems that provide such functionality to several hospital facilities using our long range Tag Exciters, the new Proximity Tag Exciter offers a physical configuration that is better suited for such environments, and for a much lower investment to boot.”

Bluewater Health Selects Awarepoint RTLS

Awarepoint, a provider of real-time locating systems (RTLS), has announced that Canadian hospital operator Bluewater Health has signed an agreement to install Awarepoint’s RTLS at Bluewater Health in Sarnia, as well as Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital of Bluewater Health in Petrolia. A phased-in deployment in 2016 will include tracking and managing more than 4,500 medical equipment assets, temperature and humidity monitoring, emergency response pendants for personnel, and support patient wayfinding across 850,000 square feet.

Bluewater Health will deploy Awarepoint Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, battery-powered RFID tags (asset, patient, staff and environmental) that combine BLE and Wi-Fi technologies, awareHealth software and managed services. The deployment is planned to start during the first quarter of next year. Awarepoint bundles BLE and Wi-Fi technologies, cloud-hosted software and managed services into an integrated location-as-a-service solution. Awarepoint introduced its Bluetooth BLE RTLS platform in April 2015, and it includes two types of BLE beacons: Enterprise and High Accuracy. The Enterprise beacons can locate objects to within 1 to 3 meters (3.3 feet to 9.8 feet) and provide mobile wayfinding, asset management and other location services, at a minimum cost, throughout large facilities. The High Accuracy beacons provide greater precision, according to Awarepoint spokesman Bernard Lee, enabling a user to track the location of a tag or mobile device as it enters or exits a room. The combination of Enterprise and High Accuracy beacons provides the flexibility to support a variety of location use cases with a single platform, he says.

Awarepoint’s BLE beacons work with its customer’s Wi-Fi network. The battery-powered BLE beacons are configured and managed via Wi-Fi. Awarepoint RFID tags, as well as mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), detect the BLE beacon signals and transmit them, via that Wi-Fi network, to an onsite location engine that calculates the tags’ position. Location processing and database updates happen in the cloud. Locations can also be processed directly on a smartphone or tablet.

The Awarepoint approach to RTLS technology uses secure, cloud-hosted software known awareHealth. Using awareHealth, onsite employees have real-time visibility into the locations of assets and individuals, can generate historical reports, and can also view real-time information regarding temperature and humidity, in order to ensure the proper storage and handling of perishables. According to Lee, the cloud-hosted software eliminates the need for complex installations, supports rapid scaling and integrates quickly with other applications. The detailed historical reporting provides additional insight into workflow efficiencies, and enables continuous improvement using tools for data analytics.

The Awarepoint RTLS solution is delivered as a fully managed service, Lee says, meaning that Awarepoint is responsible for all hardware and software support, from battery replacement to server and network monitoring. Everything, from start to finish, including layout, configuration, installation, and ongoing support, is done by Awarepoint experts to ensure that the technologies behind the system, including BLE and Wi-Fi, perform at their best and meet regulatory requirements.

Texas A&M Selects Apptricity RFID Solution to Manage Corps of Cadets Uniforms

Apptricity, a provider of mobile enterprise solutions for supply chain management and spend management, has announced that Texas A&M University has selected Apptricity’s RFID-based inventory-management solution. The university will use the solution to manage uniforms utilized by Texas A&M’s Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. The system will be used at the Military Property Warehouse (MPW) located on the College Station campus, which stores and distributes uniforms for the Corps of Cadets. The full uniform cycle spans freshman through senior years, according to Apptricity.

The university will address possible tag replacement for current uniform expendable items using existing bar codes, as well as current uniform returnable and re-issuable items using existing RFID chips. In 2005, the university said it was using passive 13.56 MHz tags sewn into individual garments, including pants, skirts, shirts and jackets, that made up the three sets of uniforms assigned to each incoming freshman joining the Corps of Cadets (see Keeping Track of Cadets’ Togs). Diane Mitchell, a spokesperson for Apptricity, says the exact makes and models of RFID tags currently in use at the university are not known, but that Apptricity will partner with Alien Technology for the new implementation. Alien will provide both mobile RFID readers (the ALH-901X) and fixed readers (the ALR-F800), Mitchell says, as well as a cart reader.

Apptricity will provide a cut-over plan for existing uniforms and install the hardware, including RFID tag installation, centralized software development and implementation provisions and updates, staff training and the handling of early-stage support calls.

According to Mitchell, Apptricity visited the MPW and devised a solution to meet the challenges that the university faced. The company evaluated the warehouse’s size and physical layout to propose a combination of fixed and mobile RFID readers, reader antennas, and a mobile cart reader to handle inbound, in-stock inventory and outbound movement of uniform assets. The recommended software provides accurate data regarding inventory stock, tracks uniforms whether issued to cadets or in transit from the warehouse to uniform-cleaning facilities, and provides control and management of invoices created when assets are issued to cadets. The combination of asset-, inventory- and invoice-management capabilities allows the MPW to track uniforms and other expendable and non-expendable assets, provide inventory status reports, and manage invoice processing.

The solution will interface with the MPW inventory system, enabling management to immediately know the assets’ supply status. The system also interfaces with the university’s general ledger and accounts receivables, Mitchell adds, to generate invoices and update and track costs associated with MPW assets.

Implementation of the new asset and invoice system will be a phased process beginning next month, with full integration expected to take place by the second quarter of 2016.

Norway Post Expands Implementation of Nedap’s Multi-access RFID Solution

Posten Norge (Norway Post) has advanced the implementation of Nedap‘s long-range RFID solution at most of its sorting facilities to manage employee access into offices, and for employees and vehicles moving in and out of distribution centers, according to Nedap, a manufacturer of security and inventory-management solutions. The key benefit, Nedap reports, is that employees can use their existing badges for all the different areas.

Nedap’s Transit solution was selected for secure vehicle access control. The solution includes Transit Standard, which is designed to identify vehicles and drivers at a distance of up to 10 meters (33 feet) and a traveling speed of up to 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour) by using semi-active (2.45 GHz) RFID tags. It was installed in most terminals at the parcel-sorting facilities, Nedap says. The solution also includes Nedap’s Booster in-vehicle transponder, which contains a unique vehicle identification number and also a card reader that reads the driver’s inserted personal identification card. With the Booster onboard the cars and freight trucks, both a vehicle and its driver are identified simultaneously. The Transit solution supports all common interfaces, according to Nedap, and transfers data to any access-control panel securely.

The RFID solution’s implementation began in 2008 at Norway Post’s Robsrud Terminal, where more than 60 percent of all mail in that country is handled. Currently, the system is installed in most Norway Post terminals nationwide, in such areas as Stavanger, Drammen, Frederikstad, Bergen, Molde, Trondheim and Oslo. Norway Post, which has nearly 20,000 employees, develops and delivers integrated solutions for postal, communications and logistics services.

The newest facility, near Oslo, will be the largest and most advanced of its kind in Norway, according to Nedap. With the handling of up to 150,000 packages and approximately 1,000 inbound and outbound freight shipments daily, the flow of vehicles at the terminal gates needed to be optimized and secured. Nedap’s long-range identification system offers fast but secure access control for vehicles entering and exiting the terminals, the company reports, based on the existing Norway Post employee badges.

In June 2014, RFID Journal reported that Norway Post was using HID Global‘s multiClass SE readers and multi-technology cards supporting standard iClass and HID Prox. HID Global’s multiClass SE readers can be used to interrogate a variety of 125 kHz and 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags (iClass Seos and iClass SE credential platforms, standard iClass, Mifare, and Mifare DESFire EV1 with custom data models) and form factors, including mobile devices utilizing Seos (see Norway’s Postal Service Deploys HID Global Access-Control Technology).

“We have selected the Nedap Transit solution because it supports multi-technology cards, allowing Norway Post to keep our established HID Corporate 1000 format whilst upgrading to higher security,” said Arnfinn Nordheim, Norway Post’s security director, in a prepared statement.

“Nedap is the only company in the world offering this innovative solution which allows us to read an RFID employee badge over more than 10 meters,” Tor R. Jacobsen, Norway Post’s senior security advisor, added in the statement. “The Nedap products can be found in all parts of the world in high-end security applications, which gave us the confirmation to make a reliable choice.”

Thinfilm, Ypsomed Partner on NFC-enabled Injection Systems for Self-Medication

Thin Film Electronics (Thinfilm), a Norwegian provider of printed electronics and smart systems, and the Ypsomed Group, a developer and manufacturer of injection systems for self-medication, have announced a partnership to incorporate Thinfilm’s Near Field Communication (NFC) OpenSense technology in the YpsoMate autoinjector as a means of improving patient self-care compliance.

YpsoMate autoinjectors are disposable two-step injection systems that house prefilled glass or polymer syringes, Thinfilm reports, and are triggered by push-on-skin activation. Patients use autoinjectors to self-deliver periodic injections for the ongoing management of chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or cardiovascular indications, making compliance a critical factor in their treatment plan.

The YpsoMate Smart autoinjector

Through the combination of the NFC OpenSense tags and a custom mobile app, Thinfilm explains, patients will be able to receive compliance assistance, such as adherence history, injection reminders, usage guidelines, refill instructions and authentication. In turn, the company notes, doctors will be able to track whether or not patients are adhering to daily self-medication requirements.

According to Thinfilm, NFC OpenSense tags are thin, flexible labels that can detect both the state before and after injection of an YpsoMate Smart autoinjector, as well as wirelessly deliver medication to patients through the simple tap of a smartphone, and record patients’ interactions with the YpsoMate Smart device in the cloud. Each tag contains a unique identifier that makes it possible to track every YpsoMate Smart autoinjector to the individual item level. In addition, Thinfilm reports, the tag remains active even after the factory seal has been broken, enabling an extended dialogue between patients, doctors and brands.

Ypsomed will invest more than 50 million Swiss francs (approximately $50 million) during the coming years in the research and development of the new generation of injection and infusion systems. These systems support the administration of medications with intelligent electronic and software-based additional functions. Commercial availability of the systems has not yet been determined.

Fujitsu Outfits Work Van With RFID, GPS, Sensors and More

Fujitsu is marketing a futuristic, hyper-connected van fitted with state-of-the-art technology, including RFID, that turns it into a mobile office and digital hub, the company reports. The vehicle is equipped with high-end routers that use high-gain, sensitive antennas so it can stream data through 3G and 4G from multiple connections, giving it the ability to channel a much stronger data signal. This allows the van to act as a mobile hub for work sites. By using a connected van as a digital hub, Fujitsu explains, a site can be online within hours, rather than weeks.

The van is available in different sizes and with various suites of technology offering a variety of benefits. It features built-in RFID readers that allow any tagged item in the van to be recorded and managed centrally. According to Fujitsu, the readers ensure that the correct items are placed in the van so that they are there when needed. For example, the company says, creating a link between specific tools and parts in the van—tracked by RFID tags—with back-end inventory and logistics systems can transform operational efficiency. This can help ensure that engineers or field technicians do not arrive at a site or job without the tools or parts required, according to the company, and can reduce the number of failed visits, thereby saving fuel and costs, as well as improving customer service. Fujitsu is using an RFID platform that can integrate a wide range of readers and can use high- and low-frequency passive tags and readers.

GPS and dashboard cameras record events and stream information to a cloud service, allowing the vehicle to be tracked and monitored remotely. The cameras can record while the van is in motion, so that in the event of an accident, it can show footage of the situation, potentially affecting insurance costs.

The GPS system can also be used to map the day’s working schedule. In addition, the van is fitted with various sensors that can test the atmosphere for pollutants and influences, such as gasses, liquids, heat, sound and radiation.

The high-tech vehicle has been visiting a number of locations in Scotland, including Oban, Portree and Inverness. That van was using an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader with passive tags on spare parts. Fujitsu’s work van is available now, according to the company, and has been tested with a number of customers. The vehicle is designed to be tailored to specific customer needs and requirements.