RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

HID Global intros iClass SE UHF readers for hands-free parking, gate control ••• Smartrac unveils Smart-Loop Prelam for UHF eID applications ••• Impinj adds handheld readers to its platform ••• ISO ratifies GS1 EPCIS standard ••• Penn State researchers use Gimbal beacons to create interactive learning spaces ••• Optivity Group announces RFID asset-tracking software for museums.

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
HID Global;
Penn State, Gimbal; and
Optivity Group.

HID Global Intros iClass SE UHF Readers for Hands-free Parking, Gate Control

HID Global has announced that it has expanded its iClass SE platform with long-range ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID solutions that provide new options for opening doors and parking gates from a distance. The addition of long-range iClass SE readers and credentials enables organizations to combine parking gate and door access control on a single card, the company reports, and makes it possible to read a tag's credentials from inside a vehicle located up to 16.4 feet (5 meters) from the reader.

HID Global's long-range solutions portfolio includes the iClass SE U90, a rugged and weather-resistant ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader compliant with the ISO 18000-6C standard and optimized for outdoor use, which supports credentials containing Secure Identity Object (SIO) encryption technology. The iClass SE U90 is built on the Security Industry Association (SIA) Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) standard, which also ensures the secure transmission of data from the reader to the controller, according to HID Global. The reader features advanced encryption, along with end-to-end communications technology. Also available is HID Global's dual-technology smart card, which supports both iClass SE 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) and UHF credentials, HID Global reports, thereby providing a single solution for seamless door, parking and gate control.

The iClass SE U90 reader allows users to activate gate control from inside a car, and the "no-stop" hands-free parking access with the iClass SE U90 reader and UHF credentials provides organizations with a long-distance option for parking gate control and the additional benefit of improved vehicle flow through parking facilities, according to HID Global.

"HID Global now offers an easier way for our customers to add parking and gate control to their security infrastructure, with new long-range access options that enhance user convenience while improving the flow of people and vehicles to and from facilities," said John Fenske, HID Global's VP of product marketing for physical access control, in a prepared statement. "Our new portfolio of readers and credentials significantly expands the capabilities of an organization's access control systems across UHF and smart card technologies. The new solution has already delivered proven security and convenience benefits in early deployments at installations spanning hundreds of readers and more than a million credentials."

HID Global's long-range UHF solutions are available now.

Smartrac Unveils Smart-Loop Prelam for UHF eID Applications

Smartrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has introduced its new Smart-Loop Prelam, which the company says provides key benefits to manufacturers of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) electronic ID (eID) documents. The benefits include extended read range with a very small antenna, minimal thickness (from 100 to 250 μm) and mechanical durability, longevity and performance, HID Global says. According to the company, the Smart-Loop Prelam is suitable for a range of eID applications that require moderate security, such as eDrivers' licenses, eResidence permit cards or border crossing documents.

Smartrac's Smart-Loop Prelam

Smartrac's prelam products are manufactured with the firm's wire-embedding technology. Its wire-embedded UHF Prelam consists of two components: the chip and chip loop on a thin carrier, which are bonded via flip-chip-assembly, and the wire-embedded antenna, which connects to the chip loop via inductive coupling. The absence of any intermetallic connection between chip and antenna improves the pre-laminate card's reliability and performance, according to the company. To underscore this, Smartrac is granting eID document manufacturers a 10-year warranty.

Like any IC used in UHF pre-laminates, the integrated Impinj Monza 4D chip does not allow the storage of personal data. Instead, Smartrac reports, this information is obtained from external databases when the eID document is read. Smart-Loop Prelams have an operating frequency of 860 to 960 MHz and feature a sheet format of up to 510 millimeters by 680 millimeters (20.1 inches by 26.8 inches). The Prelams comply with the ISO 18000-6C and EPC Gen 2 standards. PC, PVC, PET and composites are available as carrier materials.

Impinj Adds Handheld Readers to Its Platform

Impinj is expanding its product platform with the addition of two handheld readers: the AB700, from Atid, and the 1128, from Technology Solution (UK) Ltd. (TSL). Both are built with Impinj's EPC Gen 2 Indy R2000 reader chip, unveiled in 2009 (see Impinj Adds New Products, Agreements to Its Portfolio). The readers meet RFID standards backed by the RAIN RFID Alliance, an organization whose mission is to promote the adoption of EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology.

TSL's 1128 handheld reader with Impinj Intelligence

The AB700 and 1128 handhelds complement Impinj's fixed reader infrastructure, tag chips and software, the company says. According to Impinj, the AB700 has an easy-to-use interface, is designed to be ergonomic, and, in addition to RFID capability, has a built-in 2D bar-code scanner. It is suitable for warehouse, yard management, asset tracking, and logistics applications, the company reports. The operating system is Microsoft Windows Embedded handheld 6.5 (Win Mobile), and the reader has a Marvell PXA 320 806 MHz processor. It also has a lithium-ion polymer 3.7-volt 2,960 mAh rechargeable battery and an IP 65 rating, which signifies that it is dust-proof and waterproof.

The 1128, launched by TSL in May 2013 (see Technology Solution (UK) Ltd. Announces Bluetooth Handheld UHF RFID Reader) operates with a variety of Bluetooth wireless technology-enabled host devices, including touchscreen MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, enterprise handhelds and PCs. It leverages the easy-to-use touchscreen interface of an Android or iOS device, features an ergonomic design, and also has a built-in 2D bar-code scanner, in addition to RFID capability. The TSL 1128 is suitable for retail and indoor-carpeted applications, Impinj indicates. The reader is operating system-independent and works with Windows Mobile, Phone 8, WinCE, XP, 7 and 8 devices, as well as those using iOS or Android. It also features an optional, removable, high-capacity Micro SD data card and a real-time clock for extended batch data collection independent of host connection.

The handhelds will be resold through Impinj's partner network and will be co-branded with the company's new partner logo: Impinj Intelligence. This logo replaces the "Powered by Impinj" shield with which customers may be familiar.

ISO Ratifies GS1 EPCIS Standard

Not-for-profit standards organization GS1, which oversees EPCglobal's standards related to Electronic Product Code (EPC) and radio frequency identification technologies, has announced that its EPC Information Services (EPCIS) and Core Business Vocabulary (CBV) standards for event-based supply chain visibility have been ratified as the ISO/IEC 19987:2015 standard by the Joint Technical Committee on information technology of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

EPCIS is an open standard that allows businesses to capture and share information about the movements and status—the what, where, when and why—of products, logistics units and other assets in the supply chain, according to GS1. As a companion standard to EPCIS, the CBV defines a standardized vocabulary, which is designed to ensure that all trading partners exchanging supply chain visibility data have a common and consistent understanding of the business meaning of that information.

First adopted by EPCglobal in 2007 (see The Ratification of EPCIS), EPCIS is increasingly deployed in sectors such as transport and logistics, fresh foods and health care, to expand visibility and improve efficiency in areas ranging from inventory management to consumer and patient safety, GS1 explains. EPCIS can be implemented with a number of different data carriers, including GS1 bar codes and EPC RFID tags, as well as others.

The ability to capture information about the transformation of meat, fish, produce and upstream ingredients makes EPCIS an ideal enabler of farm-to-fork traceability, according to GS1. It can also be leveraged to reduce opportunities for undetected manipulation or counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products.

"We are seeing EPCIS emerge as a way to reliably document chain of custody and chain of ownership. Such information trails are mandatory in a growing number of regulatory jurisdictions, as they help prevent counterfeits from entering legitimate supply chains," said Scott Mooney, McKesson Pharmaceutical's VP of distribution operations and traceability, in a prepared statement. "Of even greater importance is patient safety, which can be improved substantially by the supply chain visibility that EPCIS helps provide."

The ratification of ISO/IEC 19987:2015 will enable governmental agencies and regulated sectors to make direct reference to the standard where appropriate, proving compliance with traceability and visibility regulations using an "official" standard. It also reinforces the implementation of the standard in commercial software solutions, GS1 adds, and hence its deployment across multiple sectors.

Penn State Researchers Use Gimbal Beacons to Create Interactive Learning Spaces

A group of Penn State researchers and IT staff members have been leading a project that uses Bluetooth beacons to create interactive learning spaces for children and their families at various sites throughout the university's campus. The project is funded by a Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL) Research Initiation Grant, and, according to an article published on Penn State's website, was inspired by museums across the country, including the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State, that have been using beacons to enhance visitors' experiences.

Susan Land and Heather Toomey Zimmerman, associate professors of education at Penn State, are leading the project. According to Land, the beacon installations have been temporary and based on scheduled educational or research visits, such as field trips or summer camps, rather than being permanently installed. To date, the project has included several "learning tours" of The Arboretum at Penn State that are triggered by Bluetooth beacons. The researchers have been using seven Gimbal Proximity Series 10 beacons, which have a transmission range of up to 50 meters (164 feet).

Children and their families are provided with the Penn State Places app, which is distributed by Penn State through Apple's Enterprise Licensing system (so it is not currently available on the Apple App Store), says Chris Millet, the school's assistant director of education technology services, who oversaw the app's development. Once downloaded onto a participant's mobile device, the app displays related content whenever it comes near one of the seven beacons.

One example is a tour called Tree Investigators, which is designed to teach children about the different ways that trees produce their seeds. Land and Zimmerman placed beacons on several species of trees, so that when a child opened the app, a map of the arboretum appeared with circles indicating the beacons' locations. As the child explored the arboretum, a dotted line would surround the circle of the closest iBeacon, letting the user know that he or she could click it to obtain more information.

Land and Zimmerman also placed beacons by limestone boulders and inside a model cave for another tour that they created for the Children's Garden, which explores the relationship between land and water in the Centre County region. Because the beacons are so small, children often didn't notice them, thereby creating the illusion that they were interacting directly with the landscape.

Optivity Group Announces RFID Asset-Tracking Software for Museums

Optivity Group has announced a new RFID asset-tracking app, known as PasTrak Asset, that is suitable for conducting automated inventory management for museums, art galleries and more. The software is designed to simplify asset management, the company reports, and enable users to check assets in and out.

The PasTrak Asset application is based on the programming code and features found in Optivity Group's PasTrak for QuickBooks, but PasTrak Asset is a free-standing application and does not require QuickBooks. The application is compatible with EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, and has interfaces with several RFID readers, including Impinj's Speedway Revolution reader and TSL's 1126 and 1128 handheld readers. Other RFID interrogators are planned for future integration, according to Jeff White, Optivity Group's managing director. The application automates asset-management processes with unique identifiers, item location, quality control checks, attached files (PDF, Word, Excel and so forth) and other information.

For comparison, PasTrak for QuickBooks is integrated with the three desktop versions of QuickBooks: Pro, Premier and Enterprise. The application is launched from within QuickBooks and requires QuickBooks to function. PasTrak for QuickBooks automatically links QuickBooks inventory data with the PasTrak database, and there are two starter kits available for the application that include RFID tags supplied by Alien Technology.

There is no starter kit for PasTrak Asset. However, White says, the server licensing and annual subscription cost is approximately 20 percent less than PasTrak for QuickBooks.