RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

Moscow Selects NXP's Mifare Plus for urban transportation ticketing system; RFID and temperature-sensing solution protects clinical research specimens at cancer research center; InfoChip unveils Bluetooth-enabled HF reader for hazardous locations; IDSecurityOnline and SimplyRfid announce partnership for asset-tracking kit; MetalCraft earns converter status from Xerafy.


The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Moscow Selects NXP’s Mifare Plus IC for Urban Transportation Ticketing System

The Troika smart card

NXP Semiconductors has announced that the Moscow Department of Transport and Road Infrastructure Development has selected the Mifare Plus chip for its Troika smart card project, an initiative that lets passengers use smart cards as transit tickets rather than wait in long lines to buy individual tickets with cash. The project is designed to decrease wait times at ticket offices during rush hour, NXP reports, and to make public transport more convenient. The Moscow transport network serves an urban area with a population of more than 20 million people, and enables more than 350 million trips per month. The multi-functional contactless cards, which can store up to 3,000 rubles ($95), can be utilized for any type of ticket, and are expected to support new services in the future. The Mifare Plus chip was chosen for its increased security features, which support the AES encryption enabling a reader to authenticate a chip before accepting its data and triggering a function, such as opening a locked door or allowing a commuter to pass through a transit turnstile (see NXP Announces New, More Secure Chip for Transport, Access Cards). The chip’s encryption scheme employs a 128-bit key, and a number of additional security features, through the support of secure random identifiers, can prevent individuals from being identified and tracked by nefarious parties using RFID readers. Across Moscow, 25,000 new locations with RFID readers will be introduced where passengers can add tickets to their contactless card. According to NXP, the new devices will contain the company’s reader ICs and Mifare Secure Application Module (SAM) AV2 for secure key storage and back-end connection to the central server. The Mifare SAM AV2 chip interoperates with NXP’s entire card portfolio, the firm reports, and supports Mifare, 3DES and AES cryptography, as well as other security features. “The Troika eWallet project is the next step in the evolution of our automatic fare collection system in Moscow, providing passengers with a multi-functional transport card, combining all types of urban transport, with suburban trains and other services such as parking and bike rental to be added in the near future,” said Maxim Liksutov, the Moscow Department of Transport’s chairman, in a prepared statement.

RFID and Temperature-Sensing Solution Protects Clinical Research Specimens at Cancer Research Center
Wi-Fi-based real-time location system (RTLS) provider Ekahau has announced that the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, Wash., is using its Wi-Fi-based real-time temperature-sensing and -monitoring solution to ensure that tissue, blood and bone specimens are stored at required temperatures. The system is helping the research center to meet its rigorous experimental control requirements, according to Ekahau. Unveiled in February 2011 (see RFID News Roundup: Ekahau Introduces Wireless Temperature and Humidity Sensor Tags, Partners on RTLS Solution for Swiss Hospital), Ekahau’s temperature sensors feature extended cable probes that can be installed inside the environment in which temperature is being measured, such as a freezer or refrigerator. The Hutchinson Center is utilizing the Ekahau Wi-Fi-based temperature sensors and Ekahau Vision software to monitor and report the temperatures of several hundred refrigeration units housing specimens used in a variety of research experiments. If temperatures fluctuate outside of required ranges or reach unacceptable limits, the solution will trigger text and e-mail alerts in real time, before spoilage can impact specimens worth millions of dollars and spanning decades of testing, Ekahau reports, adding that the Ekahau Vision software automatically logs all temperature readings that are communicated wirelessly via the research center’s existing Wi-Fi network. This eliminates the need for manual logs and reporting, which Ekahau says are prone to human error. “Since our founding in 1975, our benefactors and the public have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to advance Fred Hutch’s quest to eliminate cancer,” said Scott Rusch, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s VP of facilities and operations, in a prepared statement. “Without the Ekahau temperature-sensing solution, we could lose all of those potentially life-saving findings in an instant.”

InfoChip Unveils Bluetooth-enabled HF Reader for Hazardous Locations
InfoChip, a Canada-based provider of RFID tags and readers and software for maintenance and inspection applications, has unveiled a version of its Bluetooth Easy Reader that has been certified for use at a Class 1 Division 2 hazardous location (hazloc). The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines hazardous locations as those areas “where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases or vapors, flammable liquids, combustible dust, or ignitable fibers or flyings.” Class 1 refers to hazardous substances in the form of a gas or vapor, while Division 2 locations are those where such substances are not normally present in an explosive concentration, but may accidentally exist. InfoChip’s new reader is designed to easily scan the unique ID number—whether a chip ID, tag ID or unique identifier (UID)—of any ISO 15693 or NXP Semiconductors ICode high-frequency (HF) RFID tag, and input that ID number into any application on devices such as Apple iPads or iPhones, Android smartphones, handhelds, laptops, PCs or most other Bluetooth-enabled devices. The unique ID can also be viewed on the Bluetooth Easy Reader’s display. The reader has a read range of up to 4 centimeters (1.6 inches); the Bluetooth range is up to 10 meters (33 feet). It is certified in North America for Class 1 Division 2 hazardous locations, InfoChip reports, and is suitable for pairing with C1D2-rated tablets and handhelds for use at hazardous locations. It measures 157 millimeters by 48 millimeters by 29 millimeters (6.2 inches by 1.9 inches by 1.2 inches) and has a rechargeable battery with enough power for up to 1,600 scans before requiring recharging. The company also manufactures a non-rated version of the Bluetooth Easy Reader (model RDR-HF-BTDISP1). Both readers are IP67-rated for water and dust protection, are built to withstand the rigors of an industrial environment, and can be rebranded with custom logos and colors, the company indicates.

IDSecurityOnline and SimplyRFID Announce Partnership for Asset-Tracking Kit
ID solutions provider IDSecurityOnline has announced a partnership with RFID systems provider SimplyRFID to resell SimplyRFID’s Nox Sting Kit. The kit is a plug-and-play RFID and video surveillance solution that reveals, on a facility map, the movements of individuals and assets in real time, and includes an RFID reader, a set of Nox-2 RFID tags (made with Avery Dennison‘s AD-223 inlay, compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards), a monitoring video camera, and a dedicated mobile notebook PC with pre-loaded software to provide theft monitoring. By applying the tags to important assets, IDSecurityOnline explains, companies can set off alerts and reports in the event that the assets are moved through a doorway. At its Web site, IDSecurityOnline.com is offering the Nox Sting Kit for $4,700.

MetalCraft Earns Converter Status from Xerafy
Xerafy has announced that Metalcraft has become a qualified member of Xerafy’s Metal Skin Converter Qualification Program. Open to label converters, the program is designed to qualify converters for Xerafy’s Metal Skin dry inlay, a flexible ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID dry inlay that performs on and off metal. To qualify, converters must issue a purchase order (PO) to Xerafy for an initial one roll of 1,000 of its standard Metal Skin Mercury dry inlays (the labels and testing will be provided at a reduced rate), perform an evaluation of the feasibility of converting Metal Skin labels (a process that, according to Xerafy, should take place within four weeks of receiving the roll of inlays), and then convert 250 inlays into finished labels and ship them to Xerafy’s test laboratory, where various tests will be performed to ensure performance and reliability. Upon qualification, the converter becomes part of Xerafy’s partner community, by which leads will be routed directly from potential customers.