RFID News Roundup

By Bob Violino

Higher power limits and wider spectrum for Singapore's RFID; PowerID semipassive products available; Alien to open RFID Solutions Center; Applied Digital purchasing eXI Wireless; recruiter adds RFID-related openings.

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The following are news announcements made during the week of Nov. 1.

Higher power limits and wider spectrum for Singapore’s RFID

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, a statutory board of the Singapore government that works to encourage competitiveness in the telecom industry, announced this week it has increased the power limits for RFID devices and expanded the frequency bands for RFID applications. This is an important development because it will improve the read ranges between tags and readers and allow Singapore’s RFID tags and readers to interoperate with those developed in Europe and the U.S. The power limit for the revised frequency band of 866 to 869 MHz (formerly 866.1 to 869 MHz) in Singapore has been increased from 0.01 watts to 0.5 watts for RFID devices, which gives a read range of 2 to 3 meters (up from 0.6 meters). This will allow interoperability with tags in Europe, where RFID devices can use 2 watts of power and where regulations are being considered to allow RFID readers to operate between 865.6 MHz and 867.6 MHz. The power limit for the revised frequency band of 923 to 925 MHz (formerly 924 to 925 MHz) in Singapore has been increased from 0.1 watts to 2 watts, which gives a read range of 4 to 5 meters (up from 0.6 meters). This will allow interoperability with tags in the U.S., where RFID devices can use 4 watts and UHF systems operate between 902 and 928 MHz. The revisions are effective immediately. The IDA also announced the formation of a new testing center and educational courses. Jointly set up by Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), APL Logistics and Sun Microsystems, the RFID Testing & Solutions Center will provide compliance testing and tagging services. The Cambridge Auto-ID Lab is collaborating with industry groups in Asia to present educational courses in RFID technology.

PowerID Semipassive Products Available

Power Paper, a provider of printable microelectronic devices, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, announced the availability of its PowerID System, which includes UHF semipassive labels, readers and system software. Power Paper says it is partnering with Graphic Solutions International (GSI), a Burr Ridge, Ill.-based custom print house that is the exclusive licensed manufacturer of the flexible battery used in the PowerID products. GSI will be printing the antenna used in the semipassive tag, connecting the chip and battery to the antenna and converting the tag into a smart label. Power Paper has built its semipassive tags, as well as its readers, to comply with EPCglobal’s proposed Class 1 Gen 2 specification. The chips for the tags are made by EM Micro and are frequency independent; they can be used for wireless RF applications from 300 MHz to 2.45 GHz. The semipassive PowerID tags use a battery to run the microchip’s circuitry but not to communicate with the reader. Power Paper says its RFID labels achieve 100 percent readability at up to 20 meters. Pricing information for the PowerID system, which is being sold directly by Power Paper, was not released, but Power Paper says its semipassive smart labels cost approximately 20 to 25 percent more than passive smart labels.

Alien to Open RFID Solutions Center

Alien Technology, a Morgan Hill, Calif.-based RFID systems provider, announced its plans to establish an RFID Solutions Center somewhere in the vicinity of Dayton, Ohio, with a specific location expected to be announced within the next few weeks. Alien says the new facility will help companies that are adopting RFID technology to test new RFID products and applications. The company said it expects thousands of its customers and other visitors to come to the center in the coming years. Alien decided on building the center in the Dayton area after being recruited by the Dayton Development Coalition, which said the RFID industry is important to the area’s globally competitive IT and data management industry. The coalition also believes the center will help draw RFID companies to the region; Alien says the center alone will add more than 100 new jobs to the area.

Applied Digital Purchasing EXI Wireless

Applied Digital, a Delray Beach, Fla.-based security products company, announced that eXI Wireless, a Richmond, British Columbia, producer of wireless ID, control and location technologies, has signed a letter of intent for Applied Digital to acquire eXI Wireless. Once completed, this sale will add approximately 200 dealers and distributors to VeriChip Corp., Applied Digital’s wholly owned subsidiary and maker of RFID tags for implanting in humans. The companies expect that the transaction will close during the first quarter of 2005. Applied Digital expects the acquisition will accelerate adoption of VeriChip’s implantable passive 125 kHz tags for medical identification. Last month the FDA approved the use of the technology in hospitals, but no U.S. hospitals have ordered the tags. In Mexico the tags are being implanted in humans for both medical ID and security, and in Italy, the Ministry of Health is reportedly considering their use.

Recruiter Adds RFID-related Openings

Cleveland-based recruiting firm Direct Recruiters Inc. (DRI) recently expanded its practice to include service organizations adopting and implementing RFID technology. DRI also specializes in management, sales and marketing placements for supply chain and automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) industries, automated packaging and materials handling; labels, printing, flexible packaging and converting; and medical and pharmaceutical packaging. The company is listing RFID job openings and candidates at www.rfidpersonnel.com and www.rfidsalesjobs.com.

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