RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

BluVision announces iBEEK+ beacon with extended battery life ••• Zebra intros Onecare service to help companies manage RFID, mobile devices ••• Readymix chooses LogiTag active RFID solution to safeguard employees ••• Stanley Healthcare announces smaller RTLS badge ••• Impinj updates reader software, support package.

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Zebra Technologies;
LogiTag Systems;
Stanley Healthcare; and

BluVision Announces iBEEK+ Beacon With Extended Battery Life

BluVision, a provider of enterprise Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon solutions, has announced the iBEEK+, a beacon with a battery life of six years. The extended battery life is suitable for a range of commercial and industrial applications, the company reports, including indoor location, asset tracking, real-time monitoring, micro-location services, and data capture and analytics.

BluVision's iBEEK+ beacon

The iBEEK+ is fully compliant with Apple's iBeacon specifications, and is designed to advertise at 100-millisecond intervals 24-7 for six years when operating in iBeacon mode. In addition, the iBEEK+ supports the Physical Web and Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) Beacon specification, and can be dual-mode iBeacon and URI Beacon. The iBEEK+ includes built-in sensors (for monitoring such things as temperature, humidity and motion levels) and supports advanced security for authentication, encryption and rotation of BLE advertisements, according to the company. BluVision's other BLE beacons, designed for a variety of enterprise applications and large deployments, have a battery life of up to three years when running on iBeacon mode, and also incorporate sensors. The company's beacons work with its real-time, cloud-based beacon-management platform to build and manage micro location-enabled cloud apps around iBEEK beacons. The platform enables remote provisioning, real-time monitoring and advanced real-time alerts.

BluVision has also released its new enhanced software developer's kit (SDK), which allows businesses to integrate beacon capabilities with their apps and access all of the features and functionality for the iBEEK+. Once iBEEK+ in iBeacon mode comes within range of BluVision's Bluetooth-to-Wi-Fi gateway devices or a smartphone with the BluVision's SDK, the backlog sensor data is automatically updated to the cloud without any intervention.

The iBEEK+ is available now.

Zebra Intros Onecare Service to Help Companies Manage RFID, Mobile Devices

Zebra Technologies has launched Zebra OneCare, a portfolio of support services that provides customers with increased visibility and management of their Zebra RFID devices, as well as their Zebra mobile computers, printers, bar-code scanners and wireless local-area network (WLAN) infrastructure. The services are designed to maximize the uptime and availability of Zebra products. OneCare includes Operational Visibility Service (OVS), a new managed, subscription-based service that provides a mobile device-management platform and dashboard for at-a-glance visibility into Zebra mobile device asset performance and operational business performance. With OVS, customers can easily determine where their devices are located, how they are performing, if the devices are being fully utilized, if they are properly configured with a fully charged battery for full-shift power, and how operational processes are performing. Metrics include, for example, which mobile devices are active, out of contact or newly activated; battery statistics, such as battery discharge and average battery level; device locations; and wireless connectivity performance.

OVS is built on Zebra's Asset Visibility Platform, a cloud-based management and integration platform that enables visibility and device-level control of assets to capture data and provide analytics. The OVS Operational Dashboard delivers the data, analytics and visibility, and provides real-time updates regarding the status of devices as they move through the repair workflow. Specifically, Zebra explains, Asset Visibility Platform integrates data culled from multiple sources—Zebra mobile computing devices, Zebra LinkOS networked-enabled printers and non-Zebra rugged and consumer devices (iOS and Android)—and then aggregates, normalizes and presents the information in an online portal through a dashboard that provides easy-to-read configurable screens. Customers can set thresholds on a number of device metrics, based on their specific requirements.

"We can connect to mobile or stationary devices that are 'connectable,' meaning they have network capability and can communicate. These devices can be mobile or standalone," says Dan Walkowski, Zebra's VP for Global Services Strategy, Portfolio and Technology Platforms. "Different devices will allow for deeper connection. Zebra will continue to develop Zebra products and our platform to work better together, to maximize our management capabilities."

According to Zebra, OVS provides actionable insight into device health, location, utilization, operational trends and services, in order to help businesses achieve maximum productivity and business performance. This information, Zebra indicates, can also help companies reduce support costs and maximize worker productivity through increased device utilization and decreased mobile device downtime.

OVS was designed to complement Zebra partner service capabilities—enabling partners to resell and rebrand OVS and recognize additional revenue opportunities while deepening customer relationships.

Zebra OneCare is available in three different service levels. Zebra OneCare Essential provides basic assurance through comprehensive coverage, technical support, device diagnostics and three-day turnaround time on repairs. Zebra OneCare Select offers around-the-clock availability and visibility through services that include online dashboards, 24-7 support and same-day shipment of pre-configured replacement devices that are ready to use upon arrival. Zebra OneCare Premier is based on the collaboration of Zebra and its channel partners to meet the needs of customers whose requirements go beyond a defined service package. According to Zebra, Premier services include customized dashboards, advanced diagnostics, third-party software support and support from a dedicated helpdesk.

All Zebra OneCare service levels include a Device Diagnostic Tool to help rapidly resolve device issues remotely, as well as a service dashboard that provides visibility into the status of all devices in the repair cycle. An online learning tool and a Zebra Learning Consultant are also included to help create a curriculum to address identified knowledge gaps and ensure a rapid adoption of Zebra solutions.

"We find that our customers need the most help in the mobile space, where they want to understand where their assets are, what their location is, and what the condition or readiness of the device is, to do their job," Walkowski says. "An example are devices that are used for a transportation and logistics companies, where each driver can have a mobile computer or printer. Our customers want to know whether the devices are ready for the drivers shift. Is the unit where they expect it to be? Is it charged? Is it operational? Having even this basic information has enabled us to provide insight to customers that help them manage better employee productivity."

Readymix Chooses LogiTag's Active RFID Solution to Safeguard Employees

LogiTag Systems, a provider of cloud-based RFID solutions for managing supplies, devices and equipment, has announced that Readymix Industries (Israel) Ltd. Group, a producer and supplier of raw materials for the construction industry, has installed LogiTag's active RFID solution. LogiTag's active RFID readers are installed on forklifts, and the solution is designed to safeguard hundreds of employees and visitors who are wearing active RFID badges.

According to LogiTag, the Readymix manufacturing plant, part of CEMEX Enterprise, faced several challenges when it came to ensuring the safety of its employees, specifically with regard to forklift operations. For example, there is a risk of nearby workers becoming struck or crushed by the vehicles, each of which weighs several thousand pounds, due to limited visibility during operation. The forklifts are built differently from normal vehicles, with the front wheels static and back wheels capable of turning at 90-degree angles. Drivers rely on the mirrors to see behind them as they drive in reverse, LogiTag says, but in a busy production environment, such limited visibility is problematic.

Now, each forklift has an RFID reader with two antennas, while employees and visitors wear an active RFID tag that supports a panic button. All of the equipment (readers, antennas and tags) is designed to operate under harsh environmental conditions that include water, dust, pressure washing and intense vibrations. In addition, the LogiTag solution is connected to the forklift's braking system, in order stop the vehicle's movement as soon as a person is in close proximity to the vehicle.

Stanley Healthcare Announces Smaller RTLS Badge

Stanley Healthcare has announced the release of the T14 patient/staff badge for its AeroScout MobileView Wi-Fi-based real-time location system (RTLS) designed to track the locations and status of assets and individuals. Stanley Healthcare's RFID badges feature battery-powered RFID tags, each of which has a unique ID number linked to data regarding the wearer in the MobileView software. The tag employs the Wi-Fi protocol to transmit 2.4 GHz signals at preset intervals.

The T14 is the smallest and lightest badge for adults from Stanley Healthcare, weighing only 0.56 ounce (16 grams), a 44 percent reduction from the previous patient badge, according to Stanley Healthcare. It supports bi-directional radio transmissions, the company reports, thereby enabling over-the-air reprogramming of the badge for rapid and secure modification of the use case or firmware upgrades. In addition to leveraging standard Wi-Fi for location, the badge supports bay- and room-level location, providing flexibility to meet a variety of use cases. The T14 can be attached via a standard hospital wristband for patient use, or a badge clip for staff use, and has an IP 67 rating, meaning it is water- and dust-resistant. It also features a rechargeable battery, as well as a dual-color LED for positive feedback to button presses.

The T14 badge can be used to locate both patients and staff members in real time, and features a call button enabling patients to summon assistance in case of duress or distress. With the ability to locate personnel at the room level, Stanley Healthcare says, the T14 supports automation of nurse-call response documentation, via integration between the MobileView software and a hospital's nurse-call system, and also enables accurate capture of hand-hygiene events from compatible dispensers, as well as the correlated entrance and exit of employees in patient rooms.

The T14 badge is available now.

Impinj Updates Reader Software, Support Package

Impinj has announced a new version of its Enhanced Maintenance support and software bundle, and Speedway Connect 2.0, a new release of its software that runs on the Speedway Revolution and xPortal readers, to enable users to easily set a reader's configurations, simplify application integration and quickly access RFID tag data.

Enhanced Maintenance provides three years of priority returns support, access to software tools, and firmware upgrades for Impinj's Speedway, xArray and xPortal readers, the company reports. The level of support offered by Enhanced Maintenance ensures that Impinj's customers are able to efficiently resolve issues related to the maintenance of their RAIN RFID hardware, Impinj notes, and to receive accelerated delivery of new hardware if replacement becomes necessary.

Impinj's Speedway Connect 2.0

The Enhanced Maintenance bundle includes Octane firmware updates, licenses for Connect software (including the new Speedway Connect 2.0) and an IP license (when applicable), in order to ensure that customers have the latest Impinj hardware features. Benefits include access to the latest Impinj firmware upgrades, quick responses on preliminary hardware assessments, expedited replacement hardware shipping to minimize potential downtime, and Round Rock IP license requirement compliance (when applicable). Customers with eligible Impinj readers have the opportunity to enroll in Enhanced Maintenance from June 2 to Oct. 31, 2015.

The new Speedway Connect 2.0, which will be available for download at the end of this month, features a redesigned Web user interface that makes basic reader configuration easier, according to Impinj. It runs on the Speedway and xPortal readers, enabling users to easily set configurations for a single reader and quickly access RAIN RFID data via multiple protocols (HID, HTTP POST, TCP/IP, serial or USB). Speedway Connect 2.0 also now includes integrated help and expanded reader control settings.