RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

CenTrak launches single-use patient-tracking tag, TeleTracking upgrades its RTLS; Jamison RFID partners with Quest Solution for supply chain solutions; Abracon introduces Near Field Communication reader antennas; orthopedic implant company Stryker rolls out SATO's PJM RFID solutions across Europe; Smart-TEC announces key cap to enable NFC in car keys for new Mini; TSL intros Web-based app for its Bluetooth-enabled UHF RFID reader.


The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: CenTrak, TeleTracking Technologies; Jamison RFID, Quest Solution; Abracon; Stryker, SATO, Altrax Group; Smart-TEC; and Technology Solutions Ltd.

CenTrak Launches Single-Use Patient-Tracking Tag, TeleTracking Upgrades Its RTLS

CenTrak’s single-use tag, attached to a wristband

CenTrak has announced a new low-cost, waterproof, miniature, single-use real-time location system (RTLS) patient tag. The tag is designed for patient-tracking applications for improving capacity management, workflow automation, increased emergency room throughput and enhanced patient safety and security. The new single-use tag employs infrared (IR) and 900 MHz active RFID technologies, and features a small, light form factor that, according to CenTrak, is almost invisible when used with a standard hospital ID bracelet. Specifically, the tag is 75 percent smaller than standard reusable patient tags, and has a 30-day useful lifespan, according to TeleTracking Technologies—which is reselling the tags as part of its RTLS solution—but users can recycle the tag by sending it back to CenTrak. The tag costs one third of the price for TeleTracking’s standard reusable patient tag. The single-use tag increases the cost-effectiveness and scalability of patient-tracking initiatives, the two companies report, by eliminating concern for tag loss. TeleTracking has also announced several software upgrades to its product portfolio, including the addition of RTLS capability to a new release of Orchestrate and new releases of TeleTracking’s Capacity Management Suite system and TransferCenter application. Orchestrate is scheduling software designed to manage and predict what is supposed to happen within an OR, acting much like an air-traffic control system. RTLS integration with the new Orchestrate release will allow real-time patient movement through procedural areas to be factored into the overall process of automated capacity management, TeleTracking explains, while also improving operating room utilization and patient status communication to family members. The Orchestrate upgrade also adds 24 standard reports for acute-care procedural settings and 16 reports for ambulatory care settings. These reports are designed to help measure patient wait times, turnaround times, actual versus scheduled start times, staff utilization versus scheduled procedure times and more. A new release of Capacity Management Suite offers users a more intuitive interface with the PatientTracking Portal view, as well as customizable patient attribute and Care Progression Indicators that can be used to track physical therapy responsiveness or readiness to move to a step-down unit. Other enhancements make it easier for busy caregivers to record or access patient information without leaving the application. The Capacity Management Suite bundles TeleTracking’s key patient-flow applications into a browser-based platform to provide everything needed for core patient flow optimization and management. It includes such applications as BedTracking (for automatically tracking bed turnover and availability), TransportTracking (for automating patient transport functions) and others. In addition, TeleTracking has upgraded its TransferCenter application, which helps manage and automate the inter-hospital referral process to virtually eliminate the diversion of transfer patients due to perceived instead of actual capacity shortages. The TransferCenter application now offers additional business-trending intelligence that can help hospital executives determine the benefits of adding service lines or facility expansion. The ability to track business lost through outbound transfers, and to analyze market trends based on the type of case being transferred to other facilities, is also included in the new release. According to TeleTracking, this helps hospital leaders determine courses of action that might better meet the needs of their service area. In addition to outbound transfers, the application captures a greater amount of clinical case data and offers new user interface enhancements, additional notifications and other reporting capabilities.

Jamison RFID Partners With Quest Solution for Supply Chain Solutions
Jamison RFID, a manufacturer and integrator of rugged, purpose-built RFID portals and communications enclosures, has announced a partnership with Quest Solution, a systems integrator focused on the design, delivery, deployment and support of fully integrated mobile solutions. The distribution partnership will enable Quest to include Jamison RFID portals in its solution offerings, particularly for customers who must comply with chain-of-custody mandates. Chain-of-custody regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) call for the establishment and maintenance of records by individuals who manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold or import food in the United States. The requirement, Quest explains, is designed to help improve the FDA’s ability to respond to, and further contain, threats of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals from accidental or deliberate contamination of food. In addition to Jamison RFID’s portals, Quest also offers a variety of RFID solutions, including RFID container- and tray-tracking solutions, such as EPC Gen 2 RFID tags embedded directly into the trays and/or containers; fully integrated route-accounting, delivery and workforce-management software; rugged mobile computers that can scan both RFID tags and bar codes; and Quest Professional Services, including mobile computer and RFID tag selection services, as well as technical support, solution design and testing. In other news, Jamison RFID has announced a partnership with Barcoding Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Barcoding Inc. will demonstrate the full line of Jamison RFID’s portals at its Chicago-based Technology Integration Center (TIC). In addition, the company will recommend, procure, configure and support Jamison RFID’s portal hardware for client applications.

Abracon Introduces Near Field Communication Antennas

Abracon’s ANFCA-6040-A02 reader antenna

Abracon Corp. has introduced a range of Near Field Communication (NFC) antennas, all designed to operate at 13.56 MHz and constructed from a flexible, thin-layered structure—140 to 240 micrometers (0.006 to 0.009 inch) in thickness—to form compact peel-and-stick NFC reader antennas. According to the company, the ANFCA series of NFC antennas feature a ferrite-backed design that optimizes magnetic fields, thereby increasing the antenna’s resultant strength. All ANFCA series antenna have an operating temperature of –40 to +85 degrees Celsius (–40 to +185 degrees Fahrenheit). The antennas are targeted to mobile devices and mobile payment machine applications, as well as applications around the home, in the car or at work. “NFC-enabled devices can transfer shared data over short distances, but can also communicate to NFC tags that can be pre-programmed via mobile applications to control the functions of the device, for example enabling a door entry or switching on Wi-Fi,” said Dean Clark, Abracon’s senior technical manager, in a prepared statement. The 12 tags in the series range from 10 millimeters by 15 millimeters (0.4 inch by 0.6 inch) up to 40 millimeters by 60 millimeters (1.6 inches by 2.4 inches), but Abracon plans to offer a wider selection of shapes and sizes suitable for various applications. The company offers an NFC antenna customization service, matching coil shape and size to a particular application. According to the company, for optimum performance, NFC antennas should be matched to the application design and the NFC controller being used. Abracon offers a matching service for the ANFCA series antennas to leading brands of NFC controllers; this offers value for the discrete components to provide EMC filtering and antenna matching for optimum performance, the company reports. The antennas and matching services are marketed through Abracon’s global distribution partners.

Orthopedic Implant Company Stryker Rolls Out SATO’s PJM RFID Solutions Across Europe
Bar-code printing, labeling and RFID solutions provider SATO and the Altrax Group, a provider of traceability solutions for the health-care environment, have announced that Stryker Europe has adopted its Phase Jitter Modulation (PJM) RFID solutions in six European countries. Prior to the Europe deployment, Stryker, a manufacturer of orthopedic implants, medical devices and equipment, adopted PJM RFID solutions in the region of Australia (where six out of the world’s top seven orthopedic implant manufacturers, including Stryker, utilize PJM RFID technology, according to Kaz Matsuyama, SATO’s president and CEO), New Zealand, the island of New Guinea, and neighboring islands in the Pacific Ocean. Now, Stryker Europe is rolling out the same PJM RFID solutions to its main distribution centers in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy. However, Stryker’s North American orthopedics division is using more than 600,000 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive non-SATO RFID tags to track its orthopedic implantable products at its 38 branches and three national loaner centers (see How Stryker Manages Inventory at Its Branch Offices Using RFID). SATO, which has been providing a range of RFID solutions to the global market for more than a decade, acquired the health-care business of Magellan Technology Pty Ltd in late 2013 (see SATO Acquires Magellan Technology). “Stryker Europe will be enjoying better localized support from our valued partner Altrax Group and SATO group member companies in all six countries,” Matsuyama said in prepared statement. Altrax Group had been Magellan Technology’s solution partner in the United Kingdom prior to the acquisition by SATO, and is also SATO’s solution partner, providing its traceability systems incorporating SATO’s bar-code printers.

Smart-TEC Announces Key Cap to Enable NFC in Car Keys for New Mini

NFC-enabled key cap

Tag manufacturer smart-TEC has announced a new Near Field Communication (NFC) key cap designed specifically for the Mini F56, a new model of the Mini car due on the market this month. The interchangeable key cap is available in various designs, and features a built-in NFC transponder from smart-TEC that can store a range of functions for NFC-enabled mobile devices. One side of the key cap, marked by a slight elevation, contains an RFID tag made with NXP Semiconductors‘ NTAG203 RFID chip, which is programmed with various actions and activities via free applications available from the app stores of the Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry operating systems. Potential applications, according to smart-TEC, include enabling a driver to automatically activate a Bluetooth connection between his or her smartphone and the car’s system, in order to allow incoming phone text messages to be read out loud, or to enable the navigation app on the phone.

TSL Intros Web-Based App for Its Bluetooth-Enabled UHF RFID Reader

TSL Web Wedge

Technology Solutions (TSL), a U.K. developer of RFID devices and mobile data-capture solutions, has introduced the RFID Web Wedge, a new plug-and-play software application for mobile phones and tables, designed to work in conjunction with its 1128 Bluetooth ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader. The 1128 reader is designed for asset tracking in a wide range of industries, including retail, logistics, life sciences, chemicals, oil and gas, construction, IT, automotive manufacturing, military, transportation monitoring, and personnel access control. The RFID Web Wedge application is designed to enable quick and easy data collection from TSL’s Bluetooth-compatible RFID reader, using a standard Internet browser installed on the phone or tablet. The new app is currently available for the Apple iOS operating system, with a version for the Android operating system due out in the next few weeks. Data scanned using TSL’s 1128 Bluetooth UHF RFID Reader is automatically captured and populated in text input fields on any Web-based form. The RFID Web Wedge features a single Shot mode that captures data from individual tags to populate onscreen fields; a continuous Scan mode that inventories large tag populations, inserting tag data with a single tap; reader antenna power that can be optimized for high-density tag field scanning or single tag input; the ability to capture tag IDs, a user-defined block of tag data, or both; and the ability to convert incoming data into ASCII text format for custom tag encodings. “The RFID Web Wedge app is the perfect solution for customers who prefer to use their Internet browser instead of developing a custom software program to collect and analyze data,” said Dr. David Evans, TSL’s managing director, in a prepared statement. “Our new app enables users to get up and running right away to immediately benefit from the power and flexibility of TSL’s 1128 Bluetooth UHF RFID Reader.” The RFID Web Wedge is one of a series of apps built around TSL’s ASCII 2 protocol that, according to the company, allows a practical set of pre-configured commands to be executed locally within an RFID reader. The app is available for free download from iTunes.