RFID News Roundup

By Bob Violino

NEC moves into the RFID market; LXE unveils handheld EPC reader; EasyEPC to hold intensive EPC course; NJM/CLI offers RFID label applicator.

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The following are news announcements made during the week of May 17.

NEC Moves Into the RFID Market

NEC is jumping into the RFID market. The Japanese computer giant has teamed up with Tagsys to deploy RFID systems in Southeast Asia. Tagsys will supply 13.56 MHz tags, readers and antennas. NEC will act as the integrator on projects and develop complete RFID systems. NEC has also announced that it has joined EPCglobal, making it the first Japanese IT vendor to join the international organization that is commercializing Electronic Product Code technologies. NEC will participate in EPCglobal working groups that are developing EPC standards, and the company plans to develop RFID-based solutions for retailer market in Japan and the U.S.

LXE Unveils Handheld EPC Reader

LXE, a Norcross, Ga.-based manufacturer of wireless computers and bar code scanners, has introduced a handheld computer that can read Class 1 and Class 0 Electronic Product Code RFID tags, the MX3-RFID. The Windows CE-based computer can read bar codes and RFID tags and transmit data wirelessly through an 802.11b network. The RFID antenna is protected in a low-profile enclosure at the rear of the unit. The MX3-RFID lists for about $7,000, depending on the features required. It is available in small quantities today and will be available in commercial quantities in the fourth quarter.

EasyEPC to Hold Intensive Course

EasyEPC, a for-profit training company set up by members of the Auto-ID Lab at Cambridge University, in England, will hold an intensive, three-day technical training course in Cambridge, from June 16 to June 18. The course covers all of the elements of the Electronic Product Code and EPC Network, including the Object Naming Service, Savant, Physical Markup Language and EPC Information Service. EasyEPC, members of the Auto-ID Lab at Cambridge and RFID Journal will also hold two-day, RFID Journal University courses in the United States in June and July and in Europe in the fall.

NJM/CLI Offers RFID Label Applicator

NJM/CLI, a Lebanon, N.H.-based manufacturer of print-and-apply labeling systems, has converted its Model 400 Print and Apply Labeler to handle RFID tags. The unit currently uses an RFID reader with an antenna external to the label printer to write data to a blank label with an embedded RFID transponder. The label is then printed and a second RFID antenna reads the data off the transponder to confirm that the data was written successfully and matches the printed label. The same RFID system has been added to a version of the applicator that handles preprinted labels. Bill Delmolino, VP of technical sales at NJM/CLI, says the company is waiting for companies such as Avery Dennison, Sato and Zebra to make their printers with built-in RFID readers available. These will be installed on the Model 400, which will enable NJM/CLI to eliminate the external RFID antennas. The RFID-enabled Model 400 costs $26,000. Owners of older models can purchase an RFID upgrade kit for $11,500. And those who purchase the current version with an external antenna can upgrade to a built-in antenna for $6,500.

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