RFID News Roundup

By Andrew Price

Major Australasian retailer testing RFID; Axalto supplies RFID cards for Key debit program; ScanSource announces new RFID bundle; Cisco embedding PanGo software in health-care product platform; Paragon providing Paxar 9855.

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The following are news announcements made during the week of Oct 10.

Major Australasian Retailer Testing RFID

IBM says it is helping one of New Zealand's largest retailers, The Warehouse, run a proof-of-concept evaluation to determine if RFID technology could help it keep better tabs on stock items within its network of nearly 175 stores. During this phase, The Warehouse is testing RFID at stores and distribution centers (DCs), with the help of IBM; Alien Technology, which is providing UHF EPC Class 1 RFID readers (interrogators); and Auckland-based Saito Group, which is contributing RFID printer-encoders and labels. According to IBM New Zealand’s wireless practice leader, Brent Menzies, no third-party middleware is being used to filter or aggregate RFID reads. The Warehouse plans to analyze the data collected from the tests to determine whether a strong business case exists for deploying an enterprise-wide RFID system in a pilot project that would be kicked off next year. In developing its proof-of-concept test, the retailer formed a cross-functional RFID team, led by its Information Services department, to study other RFID systems being deployed in retail environments. The Warehouse claims that if it deploys RFID, the system would be the first of its kind in Australasia. According to Menzies, the proof of concept will continue for a few more weeks.

Axalto Supplies RFID Cards for Key Debit Program

Axalto, a provider of both contact-based microprocessor and RFID payment and access cards, is supplying more than 2 million MasterCard PayPass RFID cards to KeyBank for its rollout of RFID debit payment cards. The RFID tags, embedded in MasterCard RFID cards, transmit at 13.56 MHz and comply with the ISO 14443 air-interface standard. KeyBank started distributing the debit cards last month and will continue to do so over the coming several months. They are being sent as replacement debits cards to current and new banking customers. Last month, HSBC Bank USA said it had begun issuing RFID debit cards with MasterCard to its new and existing customers. It expects to issue about 1 million of the cards through the end of 2005. Citibank announced in August that it would begin sending RFID debit cards with MasterCard to debit cardholders in New York. The company says it will begin issuing RFID credit cards soon. Meanwhile, credit card issuer Chase started sending blink RFID credit cards to cardholders this summer (see Chase Offers Contactless Cards in a Blink).

ScanSource Announces New RFID Bundle

ScanSource, a distributor of bar code and RFID products to resellers, has released a bundled RFID platform consisting of Symbol Technologies’ MC9000-G RFID handheld reader, Zebra Technologies’ R110 Xi printer-encoder, RFID smart labels and epcSolutions’ RFID software to filter, aggregate and integrate RFID data with legacy systems. ScanSource also announced that Symbol and Zebra have lifted their requirement that resellers go through certification programs to resell the MC9000-G and R110 Xi products. The bundle is available now; pricing is based on reseller contracts with ScanSource.

Cisco Embedding PanGo Software in Health-care Product Platform

PanGo Networks says Cisco Systems is integrating its real-time location system application into Cisco’s new Clinical Connection Suite, designed to help hospital staff communicate with each other, monitor patients and track assets. The PanGo software is being used to track active RFID tags attached to high-value assets. The tags are provided by both PanGo and San Mateo, Calif.-based AeroScout. Cisco wireless access points are used to relay the tag information to the PanGo software, which calculates the assets' locations and displays them on a map of the area. In late September, PanGo announced a number of enhancements to its real-time location system (RTLS) software applications (see RFID News Roundup); the company first released news of its partnership with Cisco in May (see Cisco, PanGo Unveil Tracking System).

Paragon Providing Paxar 9855

Paragon Data Systems, a Cleveland-based provider of RFID and bar code systems and integration services, is now reselling Paxar's Monarch 9855, a tabletop RFID smart label printer-encoder utilizing SAMSys Technologies’ MP9311 RFID UHF EPC Gen 2 reader module and able to encode and read UHF inlays that comply with Gen 1 EPC Class 1, Class 0+, Gen 2 EPC Class 1 or Philips UCODE 1.19 protocols. The 9855 prints smart labels at speeds up to 12 inches per second. The printer-encoder verifies that each inlay is functioning before printing the label, printing a line across the label with a nonfunctioning inlay. That way, the inlay will not be applied and can be returned to the inlay provider or label converter.