RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Noahcard releases RFID tags, inlays based on Monza R6 chip ••• Star Systems International expands into EMEA market ••• Blue Bite unveils esca Bluetooth beacons, cloud-based dashboard ••• RetailNext adds beacon-based employee data to its retail analytics solutions ••• Arrowsmith & Grant integrates SATO RFID technology into medical refrigerators ••• Univ. of Wisconsin athletics dept. adopts beacon solution from YinzCam, Gimbal.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Noahcard;
Star Systems International;
Blue Bite;
RetailNext;
SATO, Arrowsmith & Grant Refrigeration; the
University of Wisconsin, YinzCam, and Gimbal.

Noahcard Releases RFID Tags, Inlays based on Monza R6 Chip

Noahcard, a Chinese manufacturer of RFID tags and smart cards, has broadened its portfolio of RFID inlays and tags with new passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags based on Impinj‘s Monza R6 chip. The Monza R6 is designed to make tags more sensitive than those employing other chips, with a longer read range and new features aimed at increasing the yield of properly functioning tags during manufacturing and encoding processes. In addition, Noahcard reports, the Monza R6 chip design offers technologies like AutoTune (for automatic environmental detuning compensation), Enduro (for better consistency of tag performance) and Integra (for data integrity and reliability).

Noahcard’s M6009 inlay

Launching the new RFID inlays and tags, Noahcard says, enables it to offer more compelling solutions for applications such as apparel, brand protection, industrial automation, sports timing and supply chain management.

There are 13 new RFID inlays and tags, ranging from the M6001, with an antenna dimension of 70 millimeters by 14 millimeters (2.8 inches by 0.6 inch), to the M6013, with an antenna dimension of 22 millimeters by 8 millimeters (0.9 inch by 0.3 inch). The new inlays and tags are size-optimized for different labels and available in dry, wet or paper formats. In accordance with the specifications of Impinj’s Monza R6 chip, Noahcard’s RFID inlays and tags are available in operating frequencies from 860 MHz to 960 MHz.

Star Systems International Expands into EMEA Market

Star Systems International (SSI), an RFID hardware, tag and professional services provider based in Hong Kong, has announced plans to aggressively expand into the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market. To lead the expansion, the company has appointed Julie Cooper as its senior executive manager for EMEA. Cooper will focus on expanding SSI’s business into the EMEA region, the company reports, and on building a strong partner program that will deliver SSI’s reader and transponder products to the market.

Cooper, an RFID industry veteran, brings a wealth of channel-management and business-development experience to SSI, according to the company. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the automatic identification and data collection (AIDC) market, 12 of which were specifically focused on RFID. She has served in positions of increasing responsibility at Zebra Technologies, SAMSys, Sirit, Federal Signal Technologies and 3M (which now owns SAMSys and Sirit). Cooper will be based in the United Kingdom.

Blue Bite Unveils Esca Bluetooth Beacons, Cloud-based Dashboard

Mobile-marketing solutions provider Blue Bite has announced the launch of its esca Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon solution that includes a cloud-based dashboard, dual-mode hardware, developer resources and a platform for deploying, managing and analyzing beacons.

Blue Bite’s esca beacons

Esca beacons simultaneously broadcast both iBeacon and Eddystone protocols, allowing customers to deploy a single piece of hardware that performs multiple functions. The beacons can provide contextual data and push notifications to mobile apps, even while running in the background. The iBeacon technology is compatible with both iOS and Android, the company reports, as well as through Blue Bite’s framework, escaKit. With Eddystone, a new open format from Google that enables BLE beacons to communicate with users’ devices, esca beacons extend the Physical Web, a Google initiative for reducing the friction of delivering Web-based content to end users. Eddystone was unveiled in July (see RFID News Roundup: Google Unveils Eddystone Formats for Bluetooth Beacons).

Accompanying the esca beacon is the esca dashboard, which remotely controls beacon hardware via the cloud, according to the company. The esca dashboard offers an end-to-end solution for deploying, managing and analyzing beacons. In addition, the solution includes Blue Bite’s insight and analytics regarding user engagement. With management functions housed in the cloud, the company explains, customers can do anything from assigning content to deploying contextual data to applications from anywhere. For those seeking greater customizability, esca supports traditional management via Bluetooth with a connected phone, using Blue Bite’s esca management apps written for both iOS and Android.

Customers can use the esca dashboard to upload any text, images and other data they would like. The escaKit platform will automatically deliver this information to a user’s app when within range of the beacon, according to Mikhail Damiani, Blue Bite’s CEO and co-founder. Customers can also use the dashboard to remotely change the URL being publicly broadcasted by a beacon (without the need to connect to the beacon itself). All beacon impressions, engagements and dwell-time data are reported in real time through the same dashboard. Additionally, Damiani says, the esca app allows admin users to connect directly to a beacon over BLE, and to edit such parameters as broadcast frequency, power levels and universally unique identifier (UUID).

Managing a fleet of esca beacons can be accomplished via the integration of the esca dashboard with Google’s Proximity application programming interface (API), which allows for the anonymous collection of beacon health information by any app running Google’s Nearby API, even if the app is not associated with the beacon. All collected information is accessed securely, Blue Bite reports, using the latest authentication methods. The beacon hardware is secured via the use of cloud-based passkeys and encryption.

According to Blue Bite, it has deployed North America’s largest network of mobile touchpoints with Near Field Communication (NFC) and QR across transit shelters, airports, shopping malls, movie theaters, college campuses, taxis, wildpostings, mobile billboards and other venues. The company plans to roll out its esca beacons to tens of thousands of venues during the coming months with its existing and new partners.

Blue Bite most recently deployed esca beacons for an out-of-home campaign with a major athletic wear brand for the release of its latest running shoe. While the firm says it cannot disclose the name of the athletic wear brand, the interactive marketing campaign is carried out via iBeacon integration through the fitness app of the brand and Eddystone support through Chrome for iOS, as well as Blue Bite’s own Decode app for both iOS and Android. “When a user with any of these apps walks past the street media,” Damiani explains, “it either triggers a notification through the app or appears in the Today view in iOS. Clicking on the notification takes the user to a custom mobile experience for that shoe.”

RetailNext Adds Beacon-Based Employee Data to Its Retail Analytics Solutions

RetailNext, a provider of retail analytics for brick-and-mortar stores, has announced that it has expanded its analytics platform to support Bluetooth beacon-based solutions. The company has been offering patented Wi-Fi and video analytics solutions that exclude employee movement to provide accurate traffic counting, and that offer advanced shopper-associate interaction analyses. Now, RetailNext says, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons in conjunction with the Wi-Fi and video analytics, the company’s analytics platform can accurately count, observe and measure the paths of shoppers and associates, and also determine when shopper-associate interactions occur, as well as how often, in what duration and any effect this might have on conversion and other key performance indicators.

Store associates simply carry a Bluetooth beacon, which can be attached to the back of a nametag or simply placed in a pocket, according to RetailNext. There is no need to have a mobile device or have an app open. Shoppers—in fact, all traffic moving throughout the store—are observed and measured by video cameras and video analytics, thereby creating a comprehensive data stream of all movement within the store. The beacon-based employee movements are then overlaid with the video analytics, allowing the software to identify which video profiles are shoppers and which are associates. From there, workers can be removed entirely. Retailers also can analyze where, when, how often and for how long the two paths intersect.

Arrowsmith & Grant Integrates SATO RFID Technology Into Medical Refrigerators

SATO has announced that Australian medical refrigerator manufacturer Arrowsmith & Grant Refrigeration Pty Ltd. will integrate SATO’s Phase Jitter Modulation (PJM) RFID technology into Arrowsmith & Grant’s blood-holding refrigerator series. Established in Melbourne in 1990, Arrowsmith & Grant designs, manufactures and services medical refrigeration systems, including cool and freezer rooms. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service and the Australia Federal Police are among its many clients.

Arrowsmith & Grant will market a PJM RFID pre-fitted medical refrigeration system and an RFID-upgradeable medical refrigeration system. PJM RFID, according to SATO, is designed to quickly and accurately identify large volumes of tagged items stacked or stored in any physical orientation. SATO purchased Magellan Technology Pty Ltd., which invented the PJM RFID technology, in December 2013 (see SATO Acquires Magellan Technology). SATO says it continues to invest in the research and development of PJM RFID, leveraging the expertise of the resident team of engineers that created the cutting-edge technology.

Univ. of Wisconsin Athletics Dept. Adopts Beacon Solution from YinzCam, Gimbal

The University of Wisconsin‘s athletic department has partnered with YinzCam and Gimbal to deliver interactive game-day experiences—not only at home venues, including the university’s Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center, but also on the road, beginning with the football season opener in Dallas at the Advocare Kick Off Classic Sept. 5.

YinzCam, the developer of the official Wisconsin Badgers Game Day app, will provide a number of features (including statistics, roster, schedule and breaking news), along with first-of-its-kind mobile experiences in the college game-day space, according to YinzCam and Gimbal. The app will also provide video of different camera angles for multiple sports and multiple venues, from both Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center.

Gimbal’s Bluetooth-enabled beacon platform, which includes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)—also known as Bluetooth Smart—beacons, as well as software, is context-aware and offers geofencing, proximity and interest sensing, consumer privacy controls, a communication platform and other features. It is designed to deliver targeted, real-time location data to trigger message campaigns to beacon-enabled smartphone apps, based on a user’s arrival, departure and dwell times from custom-geofenced areas. The Badgers Game Day app employs Gimbal proximity beacons with Apple‘s iBeacon technology and Gimbal geofences to push highly relevant location-based notifications to Badger fans via their mobile devices.

YinzCam and Gimbal have worked together on other interactive, Bluetooth-enabled apps for sporting venues, including apps for fans of participating professional sports teams and leagues throughout the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL) in the United States, as well as the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia (see Cleveland Cavaliers Use Beacons to Provide Interactive Team Experience).