RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

MAINtag introduces new RFID-enabled, ATA Spec 2000-compliant FLYchip; Voyantic launches new HF RFID tag-measurement system; Secura Key launches new RFID flat-pad antenna; Technology Solution (UK) Ltd. announces Bluetooth handheld UHF RFID reader; Times-7 intros durable, low-profile RFID ground antenna; GlobeRanger selected as supplier for U.S. Army contract, partners on oil-and-gas solution; Checkpoint Systems launches RFID solution to protect merchandise.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week.

MAINtag Introduces New RFID-enabled, ATA Spec 2000-compliant FLYchip
MAINtag has announced a new addition to its family of RFID solutions for the aerospace industry. The next-generation silicon FLYchip is compliant with specifications from the Air Transport Association of America (ATA)—now known as Airlines for Amercia—as outlined in the ATA’s Spec 2000 (newest version 4.0), and is embedded in the FLYtag range of RFID tags for the parts-marking of life vests, seats, medical kits, oxygen generators, in-flight entertainment systems and other flyable parts with life-cycle or expiration dates requiring inspection and inventory checks. The company unveiled the new FLYchip in booth 504A at this week’s RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla. The ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID chip, compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards (meeting requirements in the most recent EPC TDS 1.6 standard), supports both single- and dual-record (2 kilobits) formats, and offers data-retention capability of more than 30 years. The company says it expects to release an 8-kilobyte multi-record memory version in the near future. Airlines, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and aircraft manufactures are already using MAINtag solutions for a variety of applications. For example, in early 2010, Airbus signed a seven-year contract with MAINtag to use its RFID tags as part of an overall initiative to monitor thousands of pressurized and non-pressurized parts and components on Airbus’ new A350 extra-wide body (XWB) fleet (see Airbus Signs Contract for High-Memory RFID Tags). Currently, the company notes, there are more than 50,000 single- and dual-record FLYchip units in service.

Voyantic Launches New HF RFID Tag Measurement System
Voyantic Ltd., a provider of RFID measurement solutions based in Finland, has unveiled a new system for ascertaining the performance of high-frequency (HF) RFID tags. Demonstrated in booth 200 at this week’s RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla., Voyantic’s Tagformance HF system was nominated as an RFID Journal Award finalist for Best in Show (see Finalists Unveiled for Seventh Annual RFID Journal Awards). The Tagformance HF system is the first dedicated solution on the market that implements all key RF performance tests for contactless tags and cards, according to Voyantic. It is designed to evaluate the functionality and characteristics of HF and Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags, and lets tag manufacturers design and test their quality during the production process, while RFID solution providers and end users can utilize the system to compare tags from various vendors and choose those that work best for their particular solution. In particular, the system determines the sensitivity of tags at a high accuracy level, providing new visibility to the parameters essential to tag research-and-development (R&D) activities and production-quality monitoring, Voyantic reports. All Tagformance HF functionalities are controlled via a graphical user interface that, according to the company, is easy to use and follows the same logic as the Tagformance UHF system. The Tagformance HF Measurement System consists of the Voyantic Tagformance HF Measurement Unit, control software for a PC and measurement accessories. Last month, the company unveiled a new version of its test system for measuring the performance of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID readers, as well as Tagformance 5, a new version of its measurement software that helps businesses verify that tags operate properly, and qualifies how well they function (see RFID News Roundup: Voyantic Announces Upgrades to Reader Tester and Measurement Software).

Secura Key Launches New RFID Flat-Pad Antenna
Secura Key, a California-based provider of electronic access-control and RFID products for security, asset-management and automatic data collection (ADC) applications, has announced a new RFID antenna for read-write desktop applications, such as library checkout, inventory systems, or other track-and-trace applications requiring the identification of items via the reading of any high-frequency (HF) RFID labels. The ET-ANT 13×9 flat-pad antenna measures only 0.30 inch thick, and has a Lexan top cover made of polycarbonate resin thermoplastic and a rubber-cushioned bottom pad to prevent sliding. The 13.56 MHz antenna has an 8-foot, black-jacketed connector cable, and an MMCX adapter is also included. The ET-ANT 13×9 antenna was demonstrated in booth 342 at this week’s RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla.. The new antenna, the company reports, is a good match with Secura Key’s ET9-USB-1 reader, which plugs into a standard USB port on a laptop or desktop computer, and provides enough power to read an HF label at a distance of 8 to 9 inches, using the ET-ANT 13×9. The ET9-USB-1 device reads and writes to 13.56 MHz ISO 15693 tags or labels, and is the same size as a USB flash drive, requiring no other external electronics or power.

Technology Solution (UK) Ltd. Announces Bluetooth Handheld UHF RFID Reader
Technology Solution (UK) Ltd. (TSL) has announced a new Bluetooth ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader that can work with enterprise handheld devices, tablets, PCs (via a USB cable), laptops, smartphones and touchscreen MP3 players. The new 1128 Bluetooth UHF RFID reader is designed to read and write to tags compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standard, and incorporates TSL’s unique ASCII protocol, which provides a developer with a set of commands that carry out multiple actions locally within the Bluetooth reader. According to the company, this enables multiple tag operations to be executed using simple preconfigured ASCII commands, which not only speeds up the integration of the reader into applications, but also abstracts the developer from some of the complexities of the underlying native application programming interface (API). According to TSL, the 1128 reader can also be configured with 2-D data scanning via Motorola‘s SE4500 engine, which incorporates fast-pulse illumination and fast sensor shutter speeds for 1-D and 2-D data capture. The device features an ergonomic style that includes a compact slim-line grip and a comfortable trigger handle for scan-intensive RFID and 2-D bar-code data-collection applications, the company reports. TSL demonstrated its 1128 Bluetooth UHF RFID reader in booth 115 at this week’s RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla.

Times-7 Intros Durable, Low-Profile RFID Ground Antenna
Times-7, a New Zealand-based manufacturer of RFID reader antennas, has introduced the SlimLine-Endura (A5531-E) Ultrahigh-Frequency (UHF) Embedded Ground Antenna, designed for RFID industrial asset-identification and -tracking applications. The antenna is highly durable and has an ultra-low profile, according to the company. This enables it to serve as a ground antenna embedded in concrete within a workplace floor that can withstand extremely high vehicular pressure loads and working temperature ranges, among other industrial or tracking management scenarios in which existing RFID antennas have limitations. Measuring 20 millimeters (0.8 inch) thick, the antenna features a fiberglass-reinforced composite housing and has an IP 68 rating (indicating that it is dustproof and waterproof), even underground at a 10-meter (33-foot) depth. The antenna has a compressive strength of 25 megapascals (which relates to the amount of force necessary to break it). The antenna was exhibited in booth 111 at this week’s RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla.

GlobeRanger Selected as Supplier for U.S. Army Contract, Partners on Oil-and-Gas Solution
GlobeRanger, a Richardson, Texas, provider of supply chain software and RFID middleware that enables the translation of read-event data to back-end systems, made several announcements at this week’s RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla. The company announced that it has been selected as the software supplier for a U.S. Army PD AMIS pRFID II contract won by SRA International, a provider of technology and consulting services and solutions to government organizations and commercial clients, to provide RFID capabilities to the U.S. Army. Specifically, GlobeRanger’s iMotion Edgeware Platform and other software components has been selected as the software layer to provide RFID and sensor management, edge process orchestration and automatic identification technology (AIT) systems integration for the Army, under the PD AMIS pRFID II contract with SRA International. The contract, awarded on Mar. 20, contains a base year and two optional years, with a $30 million maximum contract value. The contract comes under the Army’s newly named Automated Movement and Identification Solutions (AMIS) product-management office for RFID and AIT solutions. According to SRA International, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) requires most suppliers of parts and commodities to mark their shipments with RFID tags to enable tracking, and the pRFID II contract supports a state-of-the-art, common, integrated structure for logistic identification, tracking, locating and monitoring of commodities and assets for the DOD, the U.S. Coast Guard and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as coalition partners, foreign military sales and other federal agencies. GlobeRanger also announced an initiative to provide its cloud-based iMotion Stratus and associated RFID, MSM and its GR-Aware asset-tracking solution to the oil and gas market. The company’s initial partner in this market initiative is JPL RFID, a Houston-based oil and gas systems integrator. GR-Aware Stratus enables data-capture via handheld and fixed RFID readers, bar-code readers, GPS devices and a variety of sensors, so that assets can be uniquely identified and scanned, and attribute data can be captured (including GPS location) and then transmitted via a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. The data is stored in the iMotion Stratus cloud solution, GlobeRanger reports, allowing records and reports to be easily accessed from any location. “The oil and gas industry is very advanced in terms of technology,” said Jason Pitcock, JPL RFID’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “However, regulatory compliance, data collection and asset management is typically done using pen, paper, and spreadsheets. JPL RFID immediately brings our clients into the 21st century with innovative asset tracking/data management solutions, GPS location tracking and mapping, and safety and regulatory compliance with GlobeRanger’s GR-AWARE Stratus.” The company also announced a new product to its iMotion family of middleware and iMotion Stratus cloud-based platform, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) for RFID, mobility and sensor solutions. The iMotion Enterprise Manager is designed to provide customers with a single administration interface for managing and monitoring hundreds of iMotion installations. The management application enables customers to centrally configure and manage iMotion Edge Servers or Edge Controller appliances via the Web. The software is also offered with an on-premises option, allowing a customer’s data to remain completely within its enterprise networks.

Checkpoint Systems Launches RFID Solution to Protect Merchandise
Checkpoint Systems, a provider of RF- and RFID-based solutions for merchandise identification, tracking and security, has announced Evolve Exclusive E10, a range of antennas with high-quality fabric panels designed specifically for use in retail stores. The line preserves current investments in electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems, by providing an affordable transition to RFID that simultaneously supports loss prevention and merchandise visibility with a single smart tag, the company reports. The tag is available in EAS RFID-ready mode, RFID-only and dual-mode RF/RFID. The dual-mode antenna not only raises an alarm if a theft has been detected, Checkpoint Systems explains, but also identifies exactly which items have been removed from the store, thereby enabling a retailer to replenish store shelves quickly. In addition, the system will help identify when a stolen item is returned to the store for a refund, which helps to decrease the incidence of fraud and organized retail crime. Different alarms based on the value and quantity of merchandise can be set on the tag. The E10 antenna also supports Checkpoint’s Wirama Radar technology, which tracks the location and direction of tags within a store, and determines if an apparel item is simply hanging near an exit door, or potentially being stolen, the company notes. The antenna features high-quality printed fabric graphics panels that retailers can customize with advertising messages and promotional offers. According to Checkpoint Systems, a European chain store is currently rolling out the solution across 50 of its store locations worldwide. “We developed the new Evolve Exclusive E10 range with input from fashion retailers and brand manufacturers looking to adopt RFID to gain greater visibility into inventory, reduce out-of-stocks and improve sales, both in-store and omni-channel,” said Farrokh Abadi, Checkpoint Systems’ president and COO of shrink management and merchandise visibility solutions, in a prepared statement. “This latest range of antenna will help retailers plan their RFID migration and simultaneously support loss prevention and merchandise visibility.” Available now, the Evolve Exclusive E10 was demonstrated at this week’s RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla.