RFID News Roundup

By Admin

ODIN serves up free RFID expertise online; Fluensee links its RFID solution with BMC's asset-management app; RFIDTRaxx delivers RFID-enabled document-tracking software; NXP intros Mifare Ultralight C chip, Confidex debuts transit tickets made with new IC; ZigBee Alliance, RF4CE create new specification; RFID has another run on Italian ski slopes; Awarepoint, Skytron sign exclusive RTLS distribution deal.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week.

ODIN Serves Up Free RFID Expertise Online


RFID systems integrator ODIN Technologies has unveiled a free, online educational service, known as “Ask the RFID Expert.” The service, introduced this week at the Financial Services Technology Consortium’s (FSTC) annual conference in Sarasota, Fla., is designed to provide access to RFID experts, free of charge. Users can visit ODIN’s Web site and enter their question in the “Ask the RFID Expert” box in the upper right-hand corner. Answers will be posted within 24 hours on the site’s “Ask the RFID Expert” page, or sent directly to the inquirer via e-mail. Depending on the question, ODIN’s technical team may ask clarifying questions, simply post an answer or point the questioner to additional information sources. The “Ask the RFID Expert” service will answer end-user RFID questions across a range of RFID technologies, including low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF), ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and 2.45 GHz ultra-wideband (UWB) tags, whether passive or active. In addition to the new service, ODIN reports, the company’s site also offers white papers, how-to articles, introductory videos and more.

Fluensee Links Its RFID Solution With BMC’s Asset-Management App


Fluensee has announced that it has integrated its RFID-based asset-tracking software with an asset-management application from BMC Software, a manufacturer of enterprise management and data center automation solutions. Fluensee’s AssetTrack software can now feed RFID data culled from assets’ RFID tags into BMC’s Remedy Asset Management Collection solution. Fluensee’s AssetTrack software—which can work with active and passive RFID, ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, Wi-Fi-based systems, GPS and sensor technologies—is designed to monitor returnable and reusable assets, such as pallets, totes, trays, roll cages, display units and rental assets; trucks and trailers in yards; equipment such as tools, parts and works-in-process; and IT assets such as servers, laptops, networking equipment and peripherals. The Remedy Asset Management Application provides users with a suite of tools to help reconcile and manage data regarding assets and how they are used in the various business processes; share workflows and information with service desks and service-level management applications; better manage software licenses; create links between assets and software licenses to better manage lease, warranty and support contracts; and provide cost management to track total cost of ownership, chargebacks and asset depreciation. In a prepared statement, Tim Harvie, Fluensee’s president and CEO, said, “The integration of Fluensee with BMC Remedy Asset Management Application provides automated discovery, reduction in lost and missing IT assets, labor savings, more efficient utilization and, ultimately, improved asset security.”

RFIDTRaxx Delivers RFID-enabled Document-Tracking Software


RFIDTRaxx, an RFID company specializing in tracking documents and assets, has introduced DocStaxx, its new RFID-based document-tracking software. DocStaxx runs on a Microsoft SQL Server and works in conjunction with Magellan Technology‘s Phase Jitter Modulation (PJM) 13.56 MHz RFID tags and interrogators. The software enables companies to track paper documents, including those stacked on desks, in folders, on shelves or in archive boxes. Magellan’s PJM StackTag technology complies with the ISO 18000 Part 3 Mode 2 standard, allowing tags to be encoded at a data rate of up to 424 kilobits per second, and read at a rate of 106 kilobits per second (see Magellan Technology Releases RFID Products for Document Tracking). DocStaxx is Web-based, so users with the appropriate permissions can access the application either through an internal network or via the Internet. The use of SQL Server makes integration with existing enterprise systems easier, RFIDTRaxx reports, but also provides ample computing power.

NXP Intros Mifare Ultralight C Chip, Confidex Debuts Transit Tickets Made With New IC


NXP Semiconductors has added a new integrated circuit, the Mifare Ultralight C, to its family of contactless identification technology offerings. The chip leverages open-standard 3DES cryptography to protect data access, enable the authentication of disposable ticketing solutions and protect against fraud and cloning. According to NXP, the new IC is certified to the ISO/IEC 14443 A standard, and has been designed to be suitable for emerging NFC Forum Tag 2 applications, such as URL linking, Bluetooth pairing and smart posters, which can be accessed with NFC-enabled mobile devices. It also has 1536 bits (192 bytes) of Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM), a built-in 16-bit counter that can be leveraged for trip counter mechanisms in contactless systems, a data rate of 106 kilobits per second, and bit-wise anti-collision. There are two versions of the chip: 17pF for ID-1-sized tickets, and 50pF for smaller tags. Finnish tag maker Confidex has launched a new family of limited-use contactless tickets, known as Confidex SafeRide, that employ the Mifare Ultralight C as the chip of choice, providing the tickets with extended memory and increased security features.

ZigBee Alliance, RF4CE Create New Specification


The ZigBee Alliance and the RF4CE (Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics) industry consortium are joining forces. The ZigBee Alliance is an association of companies working to define ZigBee standards, provide interoperability and conformance testing specifications, and promote the technology’s adoption. The RF4CE, founded in 2008 by Panasonic, Philips, Samsung Electronics and Sony, is working to develop a protocol that will further the adoption of RF remote controls for audiovisual devices. Together, the ZigBee Alliance and RF4CE have reached an agreement to deliver a standardized specification for radio frequency (RF)-based remote controls. RF remotes are faster and more reliable, according to the two organizations, and provide more freedom to operate devices from greater distances, thereby removing the line-of-sight barrier of today’s infrared (IR) remotes. The agreement moves the ZigBee Alliance into the broad consumer products arena, the organizations claim, as part of its long-term integration and growth plans. Going forward, the Alliance plans to incorporate version 1.0 of the RF4CE specification into its suite of global sensor and control network solutions. The resulting ZigBee RF4CE specification will first be made available to ZigBee members during this quarter. The ZigBee RF4CE specification is designed for a wide range of products, including home entertainment devices, garage door openers and keyless entry systems. The ZigBee RF4CE specification is based on IEEE 802.15.4. MAC/PHY radio technology in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed frequency band. During the next quarter, the ZigBee Alliance intends to develop a test program consistent with existing policies for specifications and public application profiles. Once this program is complete, products utilizing a public application profile based on the ZigBee RF4CE specification can be submitted to an authorized test house for certification. “ZigBee is now on the fast track to enter millions more homes around the world, because no other technology will be able to deliver what ZigBee can do in this space,” said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance, in a prepared statement. “The Alliance welcomes the members of RF4CE and expects many great things to come from this powerful combination.” The agreement will result in the establishment of a new special interest group under the ZigBee Alliance, and will be a part of the Alliance’s open standardization. According to the new organization, non-RF4CE members and non-ZigBee members are welcome to join the ZigBee Alliance and participate in the newly formed special interest group.

RFID Has Another Run on Italian Ski Slopes


RFID has hit the ski slopes once more in Sestriere, Italy. This time, tag manufacturer UPM Raflatac provided its high-frequency (HF) RFID inlays as part of a system to control which individuals had access to various, restricted areas at the men’s FIS Alpine Ski World Cup and the Piemonte Mondiale 2009 event, held last month. A year ago, the tag maker worked on a similar system at the women’s Alpine Ski World Cup, in Sestriere (see Ski Race Organizers Use RFID to Speed Access). The inlays employed at both events operate at 13.56 MHz and are compliant with the ISO 15693 air-interface standard. Italian specialist La Modulistica converted the inlays into plastic photo ID cards and paper-based windshield passes used to identify vehicles that were granted access to restricted areas. Italian access-control specialist Alfi, in cooperation with hardware reseller Brightpoint Italy, issued the cards and implemented the system utilized to check them. At this year’s event, all individuals authorized by the event organizer were issued an RFID-enabled plastic ID card carrying their personal data and access rights. These cards were used by members of the press, athletes and invited VIPs, authorities and operators.

Awarepoint, Skytron Sign Exclusive RTLS Distribution Deal


Medical equipment and software distributor Skytron has extended its contract with Awarepoint, a maker of real-time location system (RTLS) solutions based on the ZigBee standard. The new, exclusive contract is the result of Skytron Asset Manager, a solution announced one year ago. The two companies developed the solution, enabling hospitals using active RFID to track the location and status of equipment, as well as access maintenance and technical manuals, without leaving an operating room or other point of care (see Awarepoint-Skytron System Provides Equipment Info in OR). Under the terms of the deal, Skytron has secured the exclusive contract to distribute Awarepoint’s RTLS technologies—under the name “Skytron Asset Manager, powered by Awarepoint”—to hospitals throughout North America, via Skytron’s network of independent distributors. The contract also expands Awarepoint’s growth to the Caribbean and Central and South American markets. In a prepared statement, Awarepoint’s CEO, Jason Howe, said that in the past, his company has been cautious to expand internationally. “Finding a distributor we could trust was a challenge, along with understanding potentially complex trade barriers,” he noted. “Our strong partnership and trust in Skytron has been the catalyst for this vast growth potential. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.”