RFID News Roundup

By Bob Violino

Study: RFID will make people healthy; Integral RFID offers RFID compliance solutions; CapTech upgrades RFID middleware; new ruggedized RFID mobile computer; eXI introduces a hybrid RFID-bar code reader.

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The following are news announcements made during the week of May 31.

Study: RFID Will Make People Healthy

RFID may not be as trendy as the South Beach diet, but a new study by Wireless Healthcare, a Cambridge, U.K.-based consulting firm, suggests that RFID could have a significant impact on improving the health of the general public. The report suggests that one day, consumers will use RFID readers in their mobile phone to scan RFID tags in the packaging of products on store shelves. They will be able to download a wealth of dietary and healthcare information on the product. Wireless Healthcare says that while these services will be created by independent organizations, retailers will use them to show they are keen to promote healthy eating. Peter Kruger, senior analyst at Wireless Healthcare, says mobile technology could also open up the sector to next-generation healthcare providers.

Integral RFID Offers RFID Compliance Solutions

Integral RFID, a EPC integration company based in Richland, Wash., has introduced two systems aimed at companies looking to meet RFID mandates from retail customers. The Instant-EPC Mobile workstation consists of a PC, monitor and smart-label printer, all mounted on a mobile cart that’s designed for industrial use. The PC runs software with preconfigured rules for creating EPC codes. A user can select the stock keeping unit designation from an on-screen menu and select the number of cases that needs to be shipped. The smart-label printer will generate a series of 4- by 6-inch smart labels programmed with EPC codes. The labels can then be manually applied to the cases before shipping. The system will also generate a pallet tag. The Instant-EPC Mobile workstation is a stand-alone system that doesn’t require any database integration.

Integral RFID’s Instant-EPC Portal consists of a framework that fits around a standard loading-bay door, with mounting brackets for readers, antennas and sensors. The offering includes a Class 1 EPC reader from Alien Technology, four antennas for the reader, a motion sensor to trigger the reader on and off, a screen to display the number of tags read, and a PC that controls the reader. When used in conjunction with the Instant-EPC Mobile workstation, the portal can serve as a simple verification station for outgoing shipments.

CapTech Upgrades RFID Middleware

CapTech Ventures, a Richmond, Va.-based systems integration and design firm, has released an upgrade to its TagsWare middleware application. New features include Reader Health Monitoring, which allows system operators and business applications to detect a problem with a reader or one of its antennas, and the ability to manage memory on an RFID tag down to individual bits without having to know low-level reader or tag protocols. Using this feature, users can, for example, write information to ISO-14443 or ISO-15963 RFID tags about which store to ship a product. The upgraded version of TagsWare supports readers from Matrics and Philips Semiconductors, in addition to Alien Technology, Sensormatic, and Texas Instruments. A fully functional 30-day trial version of the Java-based software can be downloaded from the TagsWare Web site.

New Ruggedized RFID Mobile Computer

InfoLogix, a Bensalem,Pa.-based maker of handheld devices, has introduced a wireless, ruggedized RFID mobile computer. The InfoLogix RFID SR is full-function computer running Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, XP Professional, Windows XP Embedded or Linux. It is larger than a Palm Pilot, but smaller than a laptop, weighs less than 2 pounds, and is equipped with 802.11b Wi-Fi capabilities. The company says that using a full-function computer at the point of data capture will allow companies to filter the high volume of RFID data before it reaches the corporate network. The RFID SR computer is sealed in a protective case that resists dust and debris (the company says the computer can even be immersed in water briefly). It can be carried, mounted on the wall near a dock door or installed on a forklift.

eXI Introduces a Hybrid RFID Bar Code Reader

eXI Wireless, a RICHMOND, B.C., provider of asset-management products, has introduced a new handheld reader that can read passive 134 kHz RFID tags, active (battery-powered) 433 MHz tags and bar codes. The device is a Symbol Pocket PC bar code reader to which eXI has added a 134 kHz RFID reader from Sirit Technologies, and eXI’s own 433 MHz active-tag RFID reader. The device is sold as part of an asset-tracking package that includes eXI’s Houndware Online asset-management software. The software is used by companies in the healthcare, power generation, oil and gas and construction industries to track large assets. EXI says it added the RFID capabilities to give its customers a way to migrate from bar codes to RFID.

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