RFID News Roundup

By Admin

PETCO to accept PayPass contactless payments; ABI Research forecasts broad integration of NFC in mobile phones; Intellident deploys 400th live RFID installation; NFC Forum announces new members, next meeting date; Intelleflex launches Strategic Partner Program; Sonitor Technologies and SenseIQ announce marketing alliance; RFID tag provider PowerID raises $12 million.

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

PETCO to Accept PayPass Contactless Payments

MasterCard Worldwide and PETCO Animal Supplies have announced that the pet-product specialty retailer will now accept MasterCard’s PayPass contactless payment card at nearly 900 of its stores across 49 states and the District of Columbia. PETCO allows pet owners to bring their animals with them when visiting its shops, and standing in line to pay with cash or non-RFID-enabled cards can be a problem for those simultaneously trying to keep track of pets. Customers ready to make a purchase will now be able to tap a PayPass card, key fob or payment device on a PayPass reader mounted in the store, then leave immediately. Purchases under $25 will not require a customer signature, further speeding up transaction times. Although it is enabling the contactless payment option, PETCO will continue to accept traditional magnetic-stripe cards as well.

ABI Research Forecasts Broad Integration of NFC in Mobile Phones

A recent study from ABI Research, a technology market research group headquartered in Oyster Bay, N.Y., predicts Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will be integrated across a range of mobile phones, from high-end smart phones to low-end handsets. The study, entitled “Near Field Communication (NFC): Leveraging Contactless for Mobile Payments, Content and Access,” reports that although NFC technology can be costly to add, mobile-phone operators, financial services firms, retailers and transportation companies are driving its integration. ABI Research calculates that by 2012, nearly 18 percent of the 300 million NFC-enabled handsets shipped worldwide will be low-end models. According to the report, mobile operators understand the benefits their contactless services could realize from an increased use of such handsets. Users could purchase food and other goods, or pay subway fares, by waving a handset; credit card issuers could eliminate the manufacture and mailing of cards; events and transportation companies could reduce printing and ticket-checking costs; and retailers could improve the targeting of promotions. The study concludes that wireless operators must be confident they’ll see a clear ROI from NFC-enabling their handsets, and provides forecasts for device and chipset shipments and revenues.

Intellident Deploys 400th Live RFID Installation

Intellident, a U.K.-based supplier of automatic identification systems, has announced the deployment of its 400th live RFID installation on Sept. 7. One hundred of the installations were deployed in the fresh food supply chain, employing high-frequency (HF) RFID tags that complied with the ISO 15693 standard. One hundred more were allocated for libraries, also using ISO 15693-compliant HF tags. The automotive sector accounted for another 100 installations, involving ultra-high-frequency (UHF) EPC tags, while the final 100 were in the apparel industry and used EM4222 non-EPC UHF tags. In equipping the 400 sites, Intellident utilized more than 2,500 RFID interrogator systems, 800 handheld computer terminals, 50 million RFID tags and Intellident’s Vision control software.

NFC Forum Announces New Members, Next Meeting Date

The NFC Forum reports a 20 percent growth rate in membership over the past five months, bringing its roster up to more than 130 members. The Forum is a non-profit industry association established in 2004 to advance the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, a wireless connectivity technology enabling consumers to perform contactless transactions, access digital content and connect electronic devices. Newly signed principal members are hardware and software provider SCM Microsystems and marketing firm Toppan Forms. Bond Communications, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cherry GmbH, Ecrio, Ericsson, Fuji Electric Holdings, Hypercom Corp., IBM, KPN, Logomotion, Over-C, Mobicom, Payter Holding BV, Sasken Communications, Softbank Corp., Swisscom Mobile, UPEK, Wireless Dynamics and Wireless Payment Services have joined at the associate level. And new nonprofit members include the Auto-ID Labs at ETH Zurich/St. Gallen, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, ITSO, Transport for London and WIMA Monaco Mediax. The NFC Forum holds quarterly meetings with its members to discuss NFC initiatives and address specifications under development. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 1-5, in Tokyo.

Intelleflex Launches Strategic Partner Program

Intelleflex Corp., a Santa Clara, Calif., provider of Extended Capability RFID solutions, has announced the launch of its Strategic Partner Program (SPP), leveraging the company’s Intelligent RFID Platform. SPP helps build a partnership network capable of offering RFID solutions incorporating RFID tracking, control and monitoring capabilities for such applications as yard management, transportation and logistics, aviation and hospitality. SPP partners include value-added resellers, systems integrators and independent software and hardware vendors. The program provides tools; early involvement in product development and release cycles; partner resources, training and support; and joint marketing and sales programs. So far, more than 45 firms have joined the program. The Extended Capability RFID platform, consisting of passive RFID tags and readers, is designed to offer increased read range, tag memory, security and data protection, as well as multi-protocol interrogators based on EPC and ISO standards. The interrogators can read both EPC Gen 2 and Intelleflex Class 3 battery-assisted smart passive tags (based on EPCglobal’s proposed Class 3 standard, which has not yet been ratified), and are built to function in environments involving liquids and metals, which can obscure tag reads. U.S. and worldwide companies interested in joining the Strategic Partner Program should visit the SPP Web site.

Sonitor Technologies and SenseIQ Announce Marketing Alliance

Sonitor Technologies and SenseIQ have inked a deal to co-market their respective real-time location systems (RTLS) to health-care organizations. Sonitor, located in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., makes an ultrasound-based indoor positioning system (IPS) utilizing battery-powered tags that transmit 20 kHz to 40 kHz acoustic signals to receivers. Through frequency modulation, each tag communicates a unique signal to the receivers, which use algorithms to analyze the signals, then forward their IDs via an existing wired or wireless network to a central server. Since the Sonitor tags are triggered by movement, a tag transmits its signals only when moved. SenseIQ, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., offers InSight, an asset visibility application suite that can leverage RFID or other automatic identification and wireless location technologies, such as ultra-wideband (UWB), bar codes, Wi-Fi, ultrasound and other auto-ID systems. InSight offers asset visibility tools, business activity monitoring and reporting via the InSight Asset Locator, Insight Asset Search Engine, InSight Asset Lifecycle Manager, InSight Business Rules Engine, InSight Reporting Engine and InSight Web Services Integration Interface. According to the terms of the agreement, Sonitor and SenseIQ will co-market an integrated solution leveraging Sonitor’s IPS and SenseIQ’s InSight software. The companies will coordinate sales and marketing efforts to a variety of health-care organizations, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

RFID Tag Provider PowerID Raises $12 Million

PowerID announced the completion this month of a $12 million fund-raising round. The fund-raising effort was led by Partech International with the participation of existing shareholders, including Amadeus Capital Partners, Apax Partners, Clal Industries and Investments and Infinity Venture Capital. PowerID is a former division of Power Paper that was spun off as an independent entity in January. The company makes battery-assisted, passive (BAP) RFID labels designed for use in tracking freight, chemicals, metals, and paper—items that can be challenging for passive RFID technology because of their tendencies to interfere with RF waves. In the future, PowerID says it plans to extend its market reach across focused vertical segments and also pursue the RFID sensor market.