RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

U.K. hospital prescribes RFID to track medical records, supplies and more; Adesto introduces low-power, sterilization-tolerant memory for wearable electronics, RFID bio apps; Nestlé delivers recipes via contactless communication to shoppers at Woolworths; Radius Networks updates is RadBeacon USB proximity beacon; Xtreme RFID joins Reusable Packaging Association.


The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
6PM Holdings Plc.;
Adesto Technologies;
Tapit, TorchMedia;
Radius Networks; and
Extreme RFID.

U.K. Hospital Prescribes RFID to Track Medical Records, Supplies and More

Following the path of other National Health Service (NHS) Trusts in the United Kingdom, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust is implementing a passive RFID system from 6PM Holdings Plc., a U.K.-based provider of IT services and products. 6PM’s Intelligent File and Inventory Tracking (iFIT) system leverages bar-code and RFID technology to help hospitals manage physical paper health records, supplies, medical devices, assets, vulnerable patients, porters, personnel and so forth. The 6PM Items Tracking and Management solution consists of the iFIT iProcess platform to intelligently manage health records, assets and pharmaceuticals and patient appointments, and includes the iTracking platform for managing RFID and bar-code data resulting from the movement of records, assets and people throughout an enterprise.

Numerous hospitals using iFIT are applying 6PM’s EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive RFID tags to health records, assets and people and are reading those tags using RFID sensors (readers) mounted on door frames, as well as in wards and treatment areas. These sensors detect and time stamp movement of tagged items. According to a spokesperson for 6PM, the iFIT deployment at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust is using RFID tags designed by 6PM specifically for NHS Trusts implementations. These tags and sensors are complemented by iFIT Android-based mobile computing tools that provide RFID search and detection as well as bar-code scanning, while giving the user the full iFIT desktop facilities on the move. iFIT, as applied within the health records environment, has demonstrated an average return on investment of 10 to 14 months at other Trusts, 6PM reports, by streamlining labor-intensive logistics processes. Once procured against this specific requirement, iFIT offers many opportunities to streamline other business processes at a disproportionately low cost, the company explains. The iFIT project at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust began in May 2014, and is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

“The Trust is undergoing a major transformation project currently, and we are pleased that health records have been seen as a key part of these changes,” said Joanna Carter, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s divisional director for clinical support services, in a prepared statement. “The Trust has invested a significant amount of money to ensure that we can provide rapid access to all our health records, thus helping to maximize patient safety. We are looking forward to working alongside 6PM to implement the iFIT solution for electronic tracking of health records. The project will bring a number of benefits to our team, including helping us to manage and locate notes in a more structured and timely manner—as well as enabling our staff to respond better to records requests from our clinical colleagues.”

Adesto Introduces Low-Power, Sterilization-Tolerant Memory for Wearable Electronics, RFID Bio Apps

Adesto Technologies, a manufacturer of low-power memory solutions, has announced its RM24EP family of sterilization-tolerant, low-energy, non-volatile memory products designed for use with wearable electronics, orthopedics, smart syringes and sample containers, as well as surgical devices requiring sterilization prior to re-use. In addition, the company reports, the RM24EP family of embedded or standalone storage technology will benefit applications that rely upon boot code and reference and calibration data, in such areas as RFID bio-material tracking, drug delivery and capsule-endoscopy. The products are built using Adesto’s CBRAM memory technology—which provides low power and high radiation tolerance—so they can maintain data integrity during harsh temperatures, as well as the irradiation conditions associated with sterilization processes used in medical device manufacturing.

Adesto’s RM24EP storage technology

The resistive memory technology provides high data retention and low power performance with a single low‐voltage supply ranging from 2.7 volts to 3.6 volts. It is an alternative Flash-based memory, Adesto reports, which is the backbone of many electronic devices. But sterilization modes using high-energy irradiation or elevated temperature have challenged the survivability of traditional Flash technology. “This weakness is limiting the features, intelligence and flexibility of medical device designs that depend on memory storage,” said Ishai Naveh, Adesto’s VP of marketing, in a prepared statement. “It is also adding manufacturing steps and cost to the end product. With an essential need for sterilization and low-power operation, Adesto’s CBRAM-based products will open new opportunities to medical product designers to add function to their intelligent, energy-conscious medical devices.”

RM24EP products maintain their stored data even within environments exceeding dose levels of 50 kGy gamma and E-Beam radiation, and temperatures as high as 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), the company reports. The new RM24EP serial interface memory solutions are available in 32-, 64- and 128-kilobit densities, and are produced on Adesto’s proprietary CMOS-compatible resistive memory architecture for integration with system-on-chip applications. They all have both byte-write and page-write capability, write operations are internally self‐timed, and the devices feature a whole‐chip erase function. They also feature a wire I²C interface and are compatible with I²C bus modes 100 KHz, 400 KHz and 1 MHz. The products are available in sample versions, with a resale unit price of $0.54 in 10,000 unit volume.

Nestlé Delivers Recipes via Contactless Communication to Shoppers at Woolworths

Consumer packaged goods company Nestlé is using Near Field Communication (NFC) to deliver content to shoppers at Woolworths supermarkets, according to NFC technology provider Tapit. The solution is a collaboration between Tapit, Nestlé and TorchMedia, an Australian firm providing shopper medial solutions to retailers. The initiative is part of Nestlé’s marketing campaign for Uncle Toby’s Oats & Strawberries cereal, and includes NFC and QR codes deployed at 480 Woolworths supermarkets throughout Australia. The solution includes NFC RFID tags affixed to signage in aisles; shoppers simply tap their NFC-enabled phones on the signs to access recipe ideas from Woolworths’ Fresh Magazine. Shoppers who NFC functionality can utilize QR readers on their phones, since the signage also includes QR codes for accessing the recipes.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to drive engagement with shoppers. Shelf conversion is a challenge for the Oats category, so we decided to amplify our Oats and Fresh strawberry campaign in Woolworths with a Tapit NFC enabled aisle fin,” said Dean Carberry, the head of sales for Nestlé’s Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) division, in a prepared statement. “The aisle fin will connect shoppers directly with Oat and Strawberry recipes, developed in partnership with Woolworths’ Fresh Magazine, to help drive consumption occasions. We are excited about this technology which will enable us to make instant changes throughout the four week campaign.”

According to Tapit, more than 50 organizations have deployed its contactless technology to engage with people. For example, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) is using Tapit technology to offer visitors an interactive tour via their NFC-enabled cell phones (see Sydney Serves RFID on the Rocks). In a prepared statement, Ben Wagner, Tapit’s commercial director, said a big challenge for brands is influencing the sale in the last three feet. “Tapit can not only do this through delivering rich mobile experiences, but also by analyzing how people are interacting with the brand,” he said. “Tapit’s advanced analytics platform allows you to view each physical interaction as you might view an online campaign. That’s quite a new and powerful proposition for brands.” Following the Nestlé campaign, Tapit reports, TorchMedia and Tapit plan to deploy further contactless communication projects with brands throughout 2014.

Radius Networks Updates Its RadBeacon USB Proximity Beacon

Radius Networks, a provider of mobile-proximity services, has announced an update to its RadBeacon USB proximity beacon, which employs Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to transmit a unique ID number to notify cell phones and other mobile devices when they come within 100 feet of the beacon. This micro-location proximity awareness can be leveraged to deliver a wide range of services, according to Radius Networks, such as precision indoor navigation, automatic ticketing, guided museum tours and location-relevant offers and promotions.

Radius Networks’ RadBeacon USB proximity beacon

First unveiled in February 2014 (see RFID News Roundup: Radius Networks Announces USB-powered Bluetooth Beacon), the RadBeacon comes in the form of a USB dongle that can be powered by any available USB power source. It can be integrated with self-service kiosks, digital displays, point-of-sale terminals, fuel dispensers, vending machines and a host of other customer-facing systems, according to Radius Networks. The new RadBeacon USB supports simultaneous advertisements for Apple iBeacon, as well as for AltBeacon, a new specification authored by Radius Networks as an open, interoperable specification for proximity beacons.

Supporting AltBeacon in its RadBeacon USB device means Android devices can receive services via RadBeacon. Mobile devices with iOS can leverage services using iBeacon technology. The new AltBeacon specification is completely open and free for anybody to use on any platform, and defines the format of the advertisement message that proximity beacons broadcast.

“Beacon technology is hugely promising, but has been largely limited to the iOS mobile ecosystem. RadBeacon support for both iBeacon and AltBeacon proximity technologies will solve this problem and make Android a first class player in mobile proximity,” said David Helms, Radius Networks’ chief product officer, in a prepared statement. “AltBeacon is free for all to implement and doesn’t favor one vendor over another. We are excited to be the first beacon technology provider to offer it our developers who depend on us to deliver proximity solutions to their customers.”

In addition to the RadBeacon USB proximity beacon update, tools and libraries supporting the AltBeacon standard have already been released for Android, Macintosh OSX and Linux, Radius Networks reports. The standard allows implementation on any other platform supporting BLE.

Xtreme RFID Joins Reusable Packaging Association

Xtreme RFID, a custom manufacturer of one-piece, fully encapsulated RFID tags for asset tracking, has announced that it has joined the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA). The association is a collaborative effort between manufacturers, poolers, distributors, retailers and educators to promote the environmental, safety and economic benefits of reusable packaging. Xtreme RFID offers several RFID tags that can be employed in reusable packaging applications, according to the company.

Xtreme RFID encapsulates RFID inlays in one-piece plastic housings for IP 68 tags that can withstand harsh chemical and environmental conditions, the company reports, for greater durability and resistance to impact, abrasion, high temperatures, chemicals and water spray. Its RFID tagging solutions, such as the Duo Tag, can offer RFID performance combined with human-readable text and bar codes, in a durable form that will survive as long as the container, the firm adds. The Xtreme RFID Duo Tag is an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Class 1 Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C compliant tag that features an IP 68 rating (signifying it as dustproof and waterproof) and provides resistance to severe impacts, high pressure, outdoor use and a wide range of chemicals typical of industrial environments.

The Duo Tag has been selected by one of North America’s largest food manufacturers to enable the better management of its food-handling processes, Xtreme RFID says. The company uses the tags to trace foods it produces from the farm field, through its processing facilities and to its customers. The tags also help the food manufacturer comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in January 2011, and to track plastic returnable containers. In a prepared statement, Mike Lewis, Xtreme RFID’s business unit leader, said that being a member of the RPA will help his firm stay on top of trends and innovations in the industry, as well as develop opportunities for strategic relationships. “Xtreme RFID is a great addition to the association,” RPA president Jerry Welcome added in the statement. “Their tags and the reusable containers they track all need to withstand numerous trips through rigorous supply chains. Xtreme RFID tags are a good technology fit for the reusable packaging industry.”