RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Confidex launches new Survivor UHF RFID tags, including battery-assisted version; ABR Industries announces new RFID antenna cables and Atlas RFID Store as new distributor; RFID helps researchers understand monkey behavior; Entigral, ID Integration partner on RFID solutions for aerospace, government and manufacturing; Radius Networks and EM Bluetooth beacons go on scavenger hunts; Gimbal and YinzCam partner to 'enhance in-venue experiences' for sports fans; Identiv launches Channel Alliance Network program.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Confidex;
ABR Industries, Atlas RFID Store;
Ubisense;
Entigral, ID Integration;
Radius Networks, EM Microelectronic;
Gimbal, YinzCam; and
Identiv.

Confidex Launches New Survivor UHF RFID Tags, Including Battery-Assisted Version

Confidex’s Survivor tag

Confidex has launched two new versions of its Survivor ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID hard tags. The company says the new tags are designed for applications in which maximal read range and durability in extreme environments are key requirements. First launched in 2006 (see Confidex Launches Reusable Gen 2 Tag), the EPC Class 1 Gen 2, ISO 18000-6C Survivor tag has been a high-performance, heavy-duty hard tag used by customers in a variety of demanding industrial and logistics applications, Confidex reports, such as managing or tracking roll cages, containers and field equipment in harsh, open environments. The new Survivor is a fully passive tag about half the size of the original—weighing just 31 grams (1.1 ounce) and measuring 155 millimeters by 26 millimeters by 14.5 millimeters (6.1 inches by 1.02 inches by 0.57 inch) and offers almost double the performance of its predecessor, with the read range extended to about 20 meters (66 feet). The tag is made with an Impinj chip, either the Monza 4QT or, upon special request, the Monza 4E. A battery-assisted version, the Survivor B, can boost the read range further to up to 60 meters (197 feet), according to Confidex. It is compliant with the EPC Class 1 Gen 2, EPC Class 3 Gen 2, ISO 18000-6C and ISO 18000-6D standards, and uses EM Microelectronic‘s EM4325 chip. The tag’s dimensions are the same as the Survivor’s, but its weight is 34 grams (1.2 ounces). Survivor B is powered by Confidex BOOST, Confidex’s battery-assisted passive (BAP) technology, and can be read using standard EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID readers. Because of their compact size, the new Survivor tags are suitable for a wider variety of applications, such as yard management, pipe logistics, container and cargo tracking, military applications, and managing construction or rail assets, Confidex reports. Both have an IP 68 rating, meaning they are dustproof and waterproof.

ABR Industries Announces New RFID Antenna Cables and Atlas RFID Store as New Distributor

ABR’s LMR400_RFID antenna cable

Coaxial cable assembly manufacturer ABR Industries, based in Birmingham, Ala., has introduced a new line of antenna cables specifically designed for RFID readers. The new RFID LMR type cables are available in various lengths, with outer diameters ranging from 0.100 inch to 0.590 inch. The company also offers a variety of connectors, such as reverse polarity Type N male and female, SMA male and female, and Reverse Polarity TNC male and female. In addition, ABR Industries has announced a new partnership with RFID technology distributor Atlas RFID Store, an e-commerce store providing RFID components and hardware. According to ABR Industries, Atlas RFID has chosen to carry ABR Industries’ products because it recognizes the significant difference that a high-quality RFID antenna cable can make on an RFID system’s overall performance (Atlas RFID posted a blog entry about the cables—see RFID Antenna Cables: Getting the Highest Performance Possible). ABR Industries is focusing on the RFID market, and recently attended the RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference and exhibition—held in April in Orlando, Fla.—where it reports that it met with several RFID manufacturers and solution providers.

RFID Helps Researchers Understand Monkey Behavior

An RFID-collared monkey

RFID has the potential to help researchers learn more about the social interactions among rhesus macaques, a species of monkey native to South, Central and Southeast Asia. In a research paper authored by Hanuma Teja Maddali, as part of the requirements for a master’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology‘s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Maddali writes that RFID could be used to better understand the social structure of rhesus macaques. According to Maddali, learning the social structure of a group by observing interactions between its members is a valuable tool for primatologists and sociologists, and is useful in learning about dominance relations that arise as a result of these interactions, as well as the correlation between the stress of social hierarchy and its effects on rhesus macaques’ immune system. Traditionally, scientists must hand-label either field observations or recorded data, and then convert this information to an interaction matrix representing some relation between different individuals, Maddali explains, adding that collecting and labeling behavioral data through manual observation is an expensive process. In addition, the manual processes do not allow for continuous observation and consist, for example, of multiple samples of hour-long observations of visible individuals. RFID tags, Maddali writes in the research paper, could be used to “continuously and accurately track positions of animals with a high frequency for the automated generation of social network graphs.” Some advantages of RFID data collection that he cites include uninterrupted visibility of individuals, the ability to collect a large volume of data, and a way to define social behaviors quantitatively using velocity, bearing and proximity. The RFID tags can be utilized to track how long the monkeys passively interact (doing such things as grooming each other), or how much time a monkey takes to move closer to or farther from another (such as chasing or withdrawing from each other) or to enter or leave certain areas (such as moving away from a feed area more quickly when another monkey approaches). Tracking these variables can help understand social structure, the author explains. Tests were conducted with live animals over a period of 60 continuous days in a metal enclosure at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, located at Emory University, in Georgia. The enclosure housed six male monkeys, each wearing a collar with four Ubisense battery-powered RFID tags embedded in it. The researcher also used installed Ubisense 7000 RF readers to receive the tags’ RF transmissions (beaconing approximately once per second at a frequency of 6 to 8 GHz), and that information is then transmitted to a server over a local area network (LAN). The server had Ubisense proprietary software, which calculated and logged each tag’s location and body position. One drawback of this system was the inability to differentiate between playful and agonistic behaviors. “For example, chasing in the context of a time series of positions can be classified as either play or agonistic behavior,” Maddali writes. “Rhesus macaques use a rich variety of visual and auditory social gestures such as yawning, lip smacking, grimacing, roaring, grunting, and squeaking. Through an additional video or audio input, the information from these sources can be combined with the approach presented in this work to provide a more detailed representation of social structure that can capture complex behaviors. The goal of future work would also be to incorporate a more general probabilistic framework to improve inferred social structure.” This isn’t the first time RFID has been used to study animal behaviors. The Dallas Zoo, in Texas, has tracked elephants in real time using RFID to study their behavior and determine if they are getting enough exercise (see RFID Goes on Safari).

Entigral, ID Integration Partner on RFID Solutions for Aerospace, Government and Manufacturing
Entigral, a provider of RFID-enabled asset- and inventory-tracking software, has announced a partnership and reseller agreement with ID Integration, a systems integrator of marking, scanning and tracking systems based in Mukilteo, Wash. Under the terms of the agreement, ID Integration will resell Entigral’s sensor automation software platform, TraxWare, into the aerospace, government and manufacturing segments. Companies use the TraxWare software to manage and monitor assets, inventory and work-in-process via RFID. ID Integration’s solutions have been employed primarily in the aerospace and defense sectors. For example, in the commercial aerospace market, its solutions comply with the industry’s Spec 2000 requirements, according to Peter Ginkel, ID Integration’s VP of marketing and business development. “Boeing, Airbus and the airlines utilize RFID tags to identify/track and trace aircraft components such as oxygen generators, life vests and many mechanical items in the aircraft. We utilize aerospace-rated RFID tags produced by MAINtag for these solutions,” Ginkel says. The company also provides the defense sector with RFID-enabled military shipping labels (MSLs), which comply with MIL-STD-129 requirements to help facilitate the tracing of shipments from defense contractors to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) logistic facilities and depots. The Entigral partnership will enable ID Integration to introduce the TraxWare enterprise software platform—used to build sophisticated “edge-based” tracking applications utilizing sensor-based technologies—to the aerospace and defense sectors, Ginkel says, adding that those markets “have a significant requirement to modernize their work-in-process and tracking requirements with RFID solutions.”

Radius Networks and EM Bluetooth Beacons Go on Scavenger Hunts
Bluetooth low energy (BLE) RFID tags known as beacons continue to gain traction, especially at events such as conferences and concerts. This month, two technology conferences put beacons to use for scavenger hunts on the show floors. Guests with smartphones attending the 2014 Sensors Expo & Conference, to be held in Rosemont, Ill., on June 24-26, will be able to participate in a promotional scavenger hunt to explore the event and be rewarded with special prizes. Sensors Expo has partnered with Swiss semiconductor company EM Microelectronic. The hunt uses EM’s emBeacon COiN module, an optimized Bluetooth Smart beacon that leverages EM’s EM9301 ultra-low-power Bluetooth Smart Controller and EM6819 ULP 8-bit Flash microcontroller. It features a read range of up to 150 meters (492 feet), with power consumption low enough that it can be powered purely by harvested energy instead of its CR2032 battery. A variety of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells have been employed to power the emBeacons to transmit sensor data, such as temperature, light level, supply voltage, event counter and location information, to the emBeacon Apple iPhone and/or Android application running on nearby smartphones. According to Sensors Expo, the emBeacons will be strategically placed throughout the Sensors Expo show floor, as well as at each Scavenger Hunt booth, automatically providing useful information to attendees and Scavenger Hunt participants. Attendees can download the Sensors Expo Mobile App (specific scavenger hunt instructions are included in the app), and will be encouraged to explore specific areas of the show via the scavenger hunt. They will be able to collect points for each emBeacon they encounter, and winners will be selected from the pool of completed Scavenger Hunt contestants and rewarded with special prizes from Sensors Expo, at a drawing to be held on June 26 (those selected must be present to win). Radius Networks‘ RadBeacon Bluetooth beacons were used for a similar scavenger hunt at the HP Discover 2014 conference, which took place in Las Vegas on June 10-12. The scavenger hunt leveraged Hewlett-Packard‘s HP Vertica Community Edition and HP Helion Public Cloud services. The RadBeacon transmitters can notify mobile devices when they come within 100 feet of the transmitters, Radius Networks reports, and the micro-location proximity awareness can be leveraged to deliver a wide range of innovative solutions, such as precision indoor navigation, automatic ticketing, guided museum tours, and location-relevant offers and promotions. HP Discover 2014 attendees who downloaded the HP Helion Scavenger Hunt mobile app on iOS or Android were encouraged to explore all areas of the show, and to collect badges for each RadBeacon they encountered. Players that collected all of the available badges were rewarded with a special prize from HP.

Gimbal and YinzCam Partner to ‘Enhance In-Venue Experiences’ for Sports Fans
Gimbal, a newly formed company spun out from Qualcomm Technologies, and YinzCam, a developer and reseller of mobile interactive in-game sports technology applications, have teamed up to deliver interactive in-venue experiences for fans of participating professional sports teams and leagues throughout the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL) in the United States, as well as the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia. YinzCam, a Gimbal-preferred developer for sports and entertainment applications, currently provides 86 team and venue applications, including 26 from the NFL, according to the two companies. Apps and solutions provide fans with geo-targeted and proximity-enhanced mobile experiences—anything from welcoming consumers to the stadium as they arrive to offering discounts from the team store as they walk by, in addition to interactive exhibits, determining concession lines and wait times, and providing unique content and offers to loyal fans. Gimbal’s Bluetooth beacons will enable a proximity experience inside and outside of the stadium environment, by leveraging geofences and beacons to engage fans at team-affiliated locations. Gimbal-enabled YinzCam applications will provide fans with digital content related to their physical environment—on an app that already offers real-time statistics, multimedia and more—offering them what the companies describe as the ultimate value and in-venue experience.

Identiv Launches Channel Alliance Network Program
Global security company Identiv has announced its Identiv Channel Alliance Network (ICAN) Program, a new partner program aimed at extending the company’s products and solutions to a broader group of global resellers and their end-user customers. The new partner program covers all of Identiv’s products and services, including the firm’s newly announced uTrust TS readers—building-access readers that support all major credentials, including proximity cards, smart cards and public key infrastructure (PKI), in a single reader format. The program offers new features and capabilities not previously offered, according to a company spokesperson, including deal registration, marketing development funds, up to four free online training courses per year, a discount demonstration program and secure access to the partner portal, which includes sales tools and resources. The program offers three tiers of membership—Platinum, Gold and Silver—based on revenue, certifications and demo equipment requirements. Identiv currently has more than 500 partners.