RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Farsens intros weight-monitoring RFID tag ••• Guard RFID receives CE mark approval for its AllGuard RFID platform ••• Hospitals in Maryland, Puerto Rico deploy Stanley Healthcare's Wi-Fi infant-protection tags ••• Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship mixes and serves drinks with robots and RFID ••• Smart421 to deliver RFID-enabled, smart-ticketing system for rail industry in England.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Farsens;
Guard RFID;
Stanley Healthcare;
Royal Caribbean; and
Smart421.

Farsens Intros Weight-Monitoring RFID Tag

Farsens, a Spanish developer of RFID sensor tags, has introduced the Atlas, a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag designed for monitoring weight in applications for which accessibility is limited, or for companies that do not want to add the cost of wiring or battery maintenance. Intended applications include warehouse inventories, especially for granulates and liquids stored in big containers. According to Farsens, companies can have a variety of containers with unknown quantities of product—at any level from empty to full—and the Atlas helps them quantify their inventories by reading the tag information within a matter of seconds.

Farsens’ Atlas-Q2000L sensor tag

The Atlas, compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards, features Farsens’ UHF RFID IC. This, the company reports, enables it to transmit a unique identifier and the associated weight measurement data collected by the sensor to a commercial RFID reader without the need of a battery on the sensor tag.

There are currently two versions of the Atlas tag. The PB-ATLAS-Q100L-V01 is designed for measuring compression loads ranging from 0 kilogram-force (kgf) to 45 kgf, and made with Measurement Specialties‘ FC23 compression load cells. The ATLAS-Q2000L is designed for measuring compression loads ranging from 0 kgf to 900 kgf, and features Measurement Specialties’ FX1901 compression load cells.

The tags come in a variety of antenna designs and sizes to adapt the performance to the required application in the 860 to 960 MHz band, Farsens reports. The reading distance is around 1.5 meters (5 feet), and the tags can be embedded in a wide variety of materials, such as plastics or concrete. Evaluation kits are available.

Guard RFID Receives CE Mark Approval for Its AllGuard RFID Platform

Guard RFID Solutions, a British Columbian active RFID company, has announced that that it has received approval to carry the CE mark on its AllGuard Active RFID platform, used for real-time tracking, location and security solutions for the health care, enterprise and industrial markets.

CE, an abbreviation for the French words “Conformité Européenne,” indicates that Guard RFID’s solution has met the European Union’s health, safety and environmental requirements, with the goal of ensuring safety. Manufacturers selling products in the European Union must meet CE marking requirements, where applicable, in order to market their products in Europe. To obtain such certification, a manufacturer must put its products through a conformity-assessment process.

Guard RFID’s 433 MHz battery-powered tags use 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. Its 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 Guard RFID, 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. Its 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.

Since its inception in 2007, GuardRFID reports, the company has deployed its solutions at more than a hundred facilities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. GuardRFID, in collaboration with its European partners, is already in the planning stages for deploying systems in Europe and expects to begin implementation of these during the coming months.

Hospitals in Maryland, Puerto Rico Deploy Stanley Healthcare’s Wi-Fi Infant-Protection Tags

Stanley Healthcare has announced that Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC), located in Salisbury, Md., and Hospital San Lucas Guayama, in Puerto Rico, have both implemented its Hugs Wi-Fi Infant Protection solution. Both hospitals had been using an earlier version of the Hugs solution that employed proprietary active radio frequency identification tags and required the installation of a network of proprietary readers.

In July 2013, Stanley Healthcare announced a new Wi-Fi version of its Hugs system, a tracking solution enabling hospitals to locate newborns, as well as identify when those babies may be leaving an authorized area, or come into contact with the wrong mother (see Stanley Healthcare Releases Wi-Fi Version of Hugs Infant Protection System). The latest generation leverages a hospital’s existing Wi-Fi network, thereby allowing a customer to easily expand a Hugs system to an entire health-care facility or campus.

For several years, PRMC has been using Stanley’s AeroScout Wi-Fi tracking solution to track the locations and manage thousands of pieces of critical equipment, and to monitor refrigeration units with pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive items in order to ensure that they remain at safe temperature levels (see RFID News Roundup: Maryland’s Peninsula Regional Medical Center Deploys AeroScout RTLS).

The Hugs expansion at PRMC is part of a major renovation of the facility’s Women’s and Children’s Services area, including a new mother/baby unit, according to Stanley Healthcare. All parts of the floor occupied by Women’s and Children’s Services are now protected by the Hugs Wi-Fi solution: the mother/baby unit, the labor and delivery section, and the special-care nursery. This follows an initial deployment in 2013, when PRMC became the first hospital in the United States to implement the solution. Prior to deploying Hugs Wi-Fi, Stanley Healthcare reports, the hospital had been using the previous-generation Hugs solution since 2007.

Hospital San Lucas Guayama, which had deployed the first generation of Hugs several years ago, has also rolled out the newest iteration of the Hugs Infant Protection solution hospital-wide. Because it leverages the hospital’s existing Wi-Fi network, the Hugs Wi-Fi solution enables the real-time monitoring of infants throughout multiple buildings and sites, all with a single enterprise deployment, according to Stanley Healthcare.

The Hugs Wi-Fi solution retains many of the features in earlier versions, including the small Hugs tag, which is attached a newborn’s ankle via a tamper-detecting band. In the event that the Hugs tag is removed from an infant without authorization, or if the child is removed from a designated area, the system generates an automatic alert for caregivers and security personnel, and locks down the designated area. The software user interface employs the same terms and procedures as the previous generation of Hugs, Stanley Healthcare indicates. What’s more, the Hugs Wi-Fi solution features browser-based software so that activity can be monitored on any Microsoft Windows PC with network access, with alerts pushed to staff via Apple iPhone or iPod mobile digital devices, IP phones, and more.

Royal Caribbean’s Newest Cruise Ship Mixes and Serves Drinks With Robots and RFID

Royal Caribbean International‘s newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas, embarked on its maiden voyage on Nov. 2, and the ship was outfitted with a number of RFID-based features, including WOWband bracelets containing passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags that passengers can use to unlock their staterooms’ doors and make purchases onboard (see RFID Sets Sail With Quantum of the Seas).

The Bionic Bar and its robotic bartenders

Another of the ship’s RFID-enabled features is the Bionic Bar, which features two robotic bartenders that work in conjunction with a passenger’s WOWband RFID bracelet.

Quantum of the Seas is using WOWband wristbands, which travelers can purchase prior to arriving at the ship or from an onboard RFID-enabled Royal iQ kiosk. The wristbands leverage passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, and guests can use them to open their rooms and make payments via RFID-enabled point-of-sale (POS) systems—provided by VeriFone—at the ship’s restaurants, bars, casino, gangway and arcade, as well as at areas set aside for Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean youth and teen programs. The cruise ship also offers guests RFID luggage tags and a Royal iQ app on their smartphones, which they can use to access updates related to the events in which they are scheduled to take part, and to manage details regarding their voyage, including viewing the locations of their bags during loading and unloading.

The wristbands are made with a 13.56 MHz NXP Semiconductors Mifare Ultralight C RFID chip complying with the ISO 14443 standard. Other RFID components include HF readers from Feig Electronics and handheld UHF readers provided by Motorola Solutions’ RFID division (now part of Zebra Technologies).

At the Bionic Bar, two industrial robots from Makr Shakr prepare, mix and serve drinks to passengers. According to a Yahoo article, the Bionic Bar has several tablets that guests can access via their WOWbands. Once logged in, a traveler can choose a drink or make his own from a menu list. An electronic board then shows the passenger where his drink is in the queue. After one of the robots has prepared the drink and it is ready for delivery, the Yahoo article explains, the robot slides it into one of the bar’s four slots. The guest can then use his WOWband again to unlock the slot and retrieve the drink.

Smart421 to Deliver RFID-enabled, Smart-Ticketing System for Rail Industry in England

Smart421, an IT services firm in the United Kingdom, has announced that it has been selected to help deliver a next-generation smart-ticketing system for the rail industry in England. The system will provide smart ticketing for the rail network in South East England, surrounding London, and will comply with ITSO, the nationally agreed U.K. open specification for transport tickets on smart media, which includes plastic smart cards and mobile devices supporting Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

The contract for a Transaction Management System (TMS) for South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) was awarded to Smart421 by the Rail Settlement Plan Limited, the commercial arm of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).

The SEFT project is designed around the ITSO standard, says Joseph Spear, Smart421’s head of marketing, so any compatible smart tickets that are approved by ITSO can be used. For example, it will work with the smart card currently issued by train operating company C2C that uses a Mifare DESFire chip from NXP Semiconductors. SEFT is a phased project, with C2C now running a smart-ticketing pilot for its commuters between Essex and London. SEFT is working with the relevant national rail train operating companies, as well as Transport for London (TfL), which runs the London Underground and Overground (SEFT will not replace TfL’s Oyster smart ticketing, but rather will work alongside it as a complementary system), and the U.K. Department for Transport. Rollout will take place during the next two years, Spear says. There are other ITSO smart-card schemes in operation within the country, he adds—for example, Scotrail—and over time, there will be increasing interoperability across the nation.

Smart421 will design, develop, deliver and support the Transaction Management System (TMS) throughout the next four years. The TMS will be used by train operating companies participating in the SEFT scheme central back office. It will employ an open-source, Java-based software platform, customized and integrated by Smart421 consultants and hosted in a cloud-based environment on Amazon Web Services (AWS).