RFID News Roundup

By Bob Violino

Mitsui invests in Savi; RFID printer-encoder gets wireless support; Printronix adds label software partner; ViVOtech adds IR to RFID payment systems; MasterCard taps OTI and Atmel.

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The following are news announcements made during the week of Aug. 23.

Mitsui Invests in Savi

Mitsui U.S.A. has invested $10 million in privately held Savi Technology, through Savi’s parent company, Infolink Systems. The investment, which is based on a valuation of $460 million for Savi, will be used by Savi to install readers and software infrastructure at ports and key supply chain points in Japan and eventually the rest of Asia and the world. Savi and Mitsui U.S.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsui & Co., have been working together for more than a year on issues around the use of 433 MHz active RFID technology in Japan (the government is considering allowing the use of RFID in that band) and scoping out potential pilots. Going forward, the two companies will work together to offer the customers of Mitsui’s logistics division supply chain visibility and customized applications based on Savi’s technology.

RFID Printer-Encoder Gets Wireless Support

Paxar, a White Plains, N.Y.-based provider of bar code and identification technologies for the retail supply chain, has teamed up with Shipcom Wireless, a Houston-based company that provides software for mobile and wireless devices to enable companies using Shipcom’s Catamaran software to print Electronic Product Code labels using Paxar’s Monarch 9855 printer-encoder. The software lets companies create a database of product and other information needed to generate EPCs and then assign specific EPCs to cases and pallets of product. With Shipcom’s software and Paxar’s printer-encoder, companies can test an RFID tag, encode it with an EPC, print a label with a bar code and human readable characters, and verify that the data was written to the tag properly. The software and printer are sold separately by Shipcom and Paxar.

Printronix Adds Label Software Partner

Tharo Systems, a Brunswick, Ohio-based company that provides automatic identification products, says it has been selected by Printronix, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of bar code and RFID label printers and encoders, as a software partner. Tharo’s EasyLabel software now has an RFID wizard that enables end users to print and encode RFID labels (see RFID News Roundup for July 9). Tharo says Printronix has tested the RFID wizard and confirmed that it will work with Printronix’s own SmartLine RFID printers and encoders, but Printronix is not reselling the software.

ViVOtech Adds IR to RFID Payment Systems

ViVOtech, a Santa, Clara, Calif.-based provider of contactless payment systems, announced that is has added infrared (IR) capabilities to its existing RFID contactless payment products. By adding IR capabilities to its ViVOpay 3000, ViVOplatform, ViVOpay Dine and ViVOwallet devices and systems, ViVOtech says that consumers will be able to make payments with either RFID-enabled key fobs or smartcards or infrared-enabled mobile phones and PDAs and that merchants will be able to accept various types of contactless payment programs in one point-of-sale device, which reduces the merchant’s infrastructure.

MasterCard Taps OTI and Atmel

Atmel, a San Jose, Calif.-based semiconductor company, and On Track Innovations (OTI), an Israeli company that manufacturers smart cards, announced that they have received the first commercial-quantity orders of contactless microprocessors developed for the MasterCard PayPass contactless payment program. The chips are compliant with lSO 14443B and ISO 7816 standards. The companies say they were selected to supply the secure contactless microcontrollers in addition to an overall contactless system that includes the operating system, application support and inlays for contactless smart cards. MasterCard’s PayPass is a contactless payment system designed to be used for small transactions, instead of cash (see MasterCard to Test RFID Card).