RFID News Roundup

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Star Systems;
CAEN RFID;
HID Global, Proxama;
Laxcen;
SK Telecom; ToolHound, and Datanet.

Star Systems Intros Astria Vehicle-Registration RFID Sticker

Star Systems’ Astria RFID registration decal

Star Systems International and Star RFID have jointly introduced the Astria, a vehicle-registration RFID sticker compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C RFID standards. The Astria, available with Alien Technologys’ Higgs3 or Higgs4 chip, incorporates Star’s Venus antenna, designed specifically for use on vehicle glass. However, Star says that since it actually prints the transponder antenna, it can modify the antenna for just about any chip on the market, if needed. The Alien H3 chip features 96 bits of Electronic Product Code (EPC) memory (extensible to 480 bits), plus 512 bits of user memory that can be block perma-locked, as well as read password-protected in 64-bit blocks. The H4 chip has 128 bits of EPC memory, along with 128 bits of user memory that can be block perma-locked and read password-protected in 32-bit blocks. According to Star, one of the major benefits of the H3 and H4 chips is that a user can individually lock user memory banks from being read via the access code. Full-color graphics can be printed on both the adhesive and non-adhesive sides of the decal, the company reports. This, along with Astria’s new Print & Program feature, allows variable data for a vehicle and its owner to be easily updated, and to then be seen and read from outside the vehicle. The Astria enables state highway and transportation departments to securely print and program all pertinent vehicle information in a single pass, on-demand, at their points of distribution. The information can be printed and encoded in the RFID chip, and be printed in human-readable fonts and bar codes on the decal’s adhesive side. The Astria features a non-removable and non-transferable construction on the RFID transponder portion of the decal, and also offers optional, customized invisible ultraviolet (UV) ink print patterns to prevent the moving or falsification of decals. The Venus transponder is also tested and certified for performance and interoperability in such vehicle applications as tolling, registration and secure access systems by the OmniAir Certification Services (OCS), the test affiliate of the OmniAir Consortium (see Efforts to Aid Adoption of ISO 18000-6C RFID for Toll Collection Move Forward).

CAEN RFID Unveils qIDmini Key Fob UHF Reader

CAEN RFID’s qIDmini

CAEN RFID has announced the qIDmini (Model R1170I) reader, a Bluetooth ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID interrogator in the form of a key fob measuring 3.9 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.8 inch (99 millimeters by 54 millimeters by 20 millimeters). The pocket-size reader, compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards, can be used for a variety of applications, CAEN RFID indicates, including point of sale, mobile field sales, access control, inventory management, and service and maintenance. When paired to a smartphone or a tablet, the company reports, the qIDmini is a cost-effective alternative to more expensive handheld devices. As part CAEN RFID’s easy2read family of products, the qIDmini has an integrated antenna suited for short- to medium-range applications; the typical read range is up to 90 centimeters (35 inches). The Bluetooth communication interface makes it suitable as a UHF RFID add-on for any Bluetooth-enabled host, such as a PC, a smartphone, a PDA or a tablet, the company reports. The reader is compatible with the Microsoft Windows XP/7 and Windows CE/Mobile, Android , and Apple iPhone and iPad platforms. It can operate both in wired mode (using a USB cable) or in wireless mode (through the Bluetooth interface). The interrogator can also operate in batch mode, allowing the storage of EPC codes into the internal memory when the communication link (USB or Bluetooth) is unavailable. In addition to an LCD display and a buzzer, the company says, the reader comes with a vibrator suited for signaling within noisy environments in which the buzzer cannot be heard, or in quiet environment such as libraries or hospitals. The qIDmini is available now via CAEN RFID’s sales network.

HID Global and Proxama Team Up to Create Secure NFC-based Coupon and Loyalty Programs
HID Global and Proxama have announced a partnership to create a solution designed to enable the rapid deployment of secure Near Field Communication (NFC)-based coupon and loyalty programs. The solution combines Proxama’s TapPoint platform for NFC-enabled smartphones with HID’s Trusted Tag Services—the company’s back-end software and server that authenticates each tag read before sharing data with an individual’s phone or another NFC reading device—to deliver a frictionless consumer experience while eliminating the potential for fraud and abuse regarding retail coupon and loyalty programs, the two companies report. TapPoint is a system for managing NFC-based marketing campaigns for brand owners, retailers, agencies and media companies. It can be utilized to create a variety of campaigns, such as discount coupons, vouchers, loyalty cards, video and audio downloads, product information (price comparisons, for instance), games and application downloads. The system comes with wizard-based tools that businesses can employ to create URL-based campaigns, as well as advanced tools for creating more complex campaigns, the ability to assign locations to NFC RFID tags, campaign reporting software for analysis purposes, and integration capability with third-party campaign-management systems (see Argos Tries NFC in Its Stores and RFID News Roundup: Guinness Dispenses Stout, NFC Mobile Marketing Right from the Tap). HID Global’s trusted tag is an NFC high-frequency (HF) passive RFID tag that operates in conjunction with the company’s Trusted Tag Services. The tag’s internal software, designed by HID, prompts it to generate a unique URL, as well as a series of trusted additional digits, thereby making every URL unique. The tag then changes that URL the next time it is read, thus serving as a one-time password (OTP). The URL can never be used more than once, the firm explains, making it impossible for someone to share a URL with others who may be located elsewhere (see HID Global Offers Security for NFC and HID Trusted Tag Offers Secure NFC Connection Without App). According to the two companies, the Proxama-HID solution will create coupon and loyalty programs in which consumers interact with HID Global’s Trusted Tags, which feature security and privacy attributes that change on every tap, thereby providing customer proof-of-presence and making each tap uncloneable. As a result, Proxama’s retailers and brands are protected from situations in which a single transaction can lead to rewards being collected multiple times. HID Global’s Trusted Tags, which do not require special readers or other equipment for authentication, also enable Proxama to provide its retailer clients with robust campaign analytics and customer profile insights.

Laxcen Signs Licensing Agreement With Round Rock Research
Hong Kong tag and label manufacturer Laxcen has announced that it has signed an agreement with patent-licensing firm Round Rock Research. Round Rock owns approximately 4,000 patents that it obtained from Micron Technologies, dating from the 1990s to the early 2000s. Of those patents, it reports, 290 are related to RFID chips, tags and readers, or to techniques for using Electronic Product Code (EPC) tags. Laxcen says it signed the licensing agreement in support of its customers. “We want to remove customers’ concerns of possible patent claims against them,” says Lawrence Lin, Laxcen’s marketing manager. Founded two decades ago, Laxcen has focused on growth in standard ultrahigh-frequency (UHF), high-frequency (HF) and Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags, as well as in creating specialty tags for unique applications. The company recently debuted its EPC Gen 2 passive tags in the United States (see Laxcen Debuts EPC Gen Passive Tags in the U.S.). In late 2013, Round Rock reported that it had settled with the majority of all EPC RFID tag suppliers that sell their products within the United States, as well as with between 75 and 80 percent of all reader suppliers (see Round Rock Completes Licensing Deals With Majority of RFID Vendors). The licensing agreement with Laxcen follows deals that Round Rock has made with several other companies within the past several months, including Adasa, BoingTech, data2, Interstate Batteries, r-pac, Seeonic and Trace ID.

SK Telecom Rolls Out Wizturn Bluetooth Beacons, Indoor-Positioning Platform

Wizturn pebBLE

South Korean mobile telephony and communications provider SK Telecom has announced the commercial rollout of its Wizturn Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons and indoor-positioning platform. The Wizturn application-development platform is designed to help developers build location-based services according to their own criteria and needs, as well as software development kits (SDKs). The beacons use the Bluetooth 4.0 standard’s BLE specification to enable periodic, rather than continuous, data transfer. That means the beacons are often dormant and, thus, have an operational battery life of about a year. The beacons can be used to identify a user’s location indoors, SK Telecom reports, and apps associated with the beacons can push out relevant information or services. To fit the needs of various industries, SK Telecom has developed four discrete BLE beacon models, each calibrated for use in different types of venues. The four include pebBLE (for check-ins only at various venues, such as stores, shops and galleries), treBLE (dust-proof, water-proof and durable for special uses, such as at sports arenas and concert halls), marBLE (for permanent installation or extended duration at hospitals, airports, shopping malls and so forth) and nimBLE (for short-term use, such as at exhibitions). Each has a read range of up to 70 meters (230 feet). SK Telecom has been implementing Bluetooth beacons at various venues. The Wizturn platform is currently available only in Korea, though the company says it is not restricting the platform for use only in the Korean market, and is currently in discussions with partners from Europe and Asia. The name Wizturn combines the words wizard and turn, since it is a solution that aides users and guides them where to “turn” within indoor spaces, while also allowing developers to build applications, maps and positioning, the company explains. SK Telecom says it first implemented indoor location technology using Bluetooth beacons in March 2013 at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital. The beacons there are used to provide navigation service via 3D map, the firm notes, as part of a smartphone application called Patient Guide App. In March 2014, the Seoul Student Gymnasium, the home court of the Seoul SK Knights professional basketball team, saw the beacon technology and Wizturn platform in action. An application developed specifically for the venue uses beacons to provide navigation services via 3D map, SK Telecom reports, as well as location-based promotions, and any smartphone with Bluetooth 4.0 enabled can interact with the beacons and application. This past March, SK Telecom partnered with Telefonica to install beacons at Telefonica’s Corporate Innovation Center, an exhibition site located at the Spanish company’s headquarters in Madrid. At the center, Telefonica showcases Bluetooth beacons and related services to the firm’s corporate customers. Currently, SK Telecom is in discussions with Microsoft to provide the Wizturn platform via Microsoft Cloud. Beginning this month, an exhibition of the beacons will open at the Microsoft Technology Center in Singapore.

Datanet Picked as ToolHound Reseller in Asia Pacific-Region
ToolHound, a global supplier of tool-tracking systems, has announced that it is collaborating with reseller Datanet to support customers in the Asia-Pacific region. Datanet is an integrator of RFID solutions across Australia, according to ToolHound, delivering enterprise-mobility solutions designed to optimize operational efficiency. ToolHound says it selected Datanet as a reseller due to Datanet’s extensive customer-support capabilities, such as project conception and management, consulting services, installation and deployment. Datanet also provides a range of rugged bar-code and RFID readers compatible with the ToolHound 5 software. The combined solution includes Motorola Solutions handheld RFID readers and Xerafy‘s rugged tags, all compliant with EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID. The ToolHound 5 software is a comprehensive, easy-to-use system for tracking and managing valuable assets, according to ToolHound, and is designed to increase staff accountability, reduce tool hoarding, lower costs and maximize productivity.