RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Aruze Gaming America, Genesis Gaming Solutions form RFID distribution agreement ••• SATO provides RFID wine cellar inventory solution to resort hotel ••• Advanced ID Electronics announces NXP RFID-IoT product launch with NedCard ••• STMicroelectronics intros wireless charging kit for wearables, IoT devices ••• Harting releases Industrial IoT starter kits ••• RFID ticket provider FineLine Technologies acquires South Africa-based Traderplus.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Aruze Gaming America, Genesis Gaming Solutions;
SATO;
Advanced ID Electronics, NXP Semiconductors, NedCard;
STMicroelectronics;
Harting;
FineLine Technologies, and Traderplus.

Aruze Gaming America, Genesis Gaming Solutions Form RFID Distribution Agreement

Aruze Gaming America has announced that it has entered into a distribution agreement with Genesis Gaming Solutions to distribute Aruze Gaming’s casino gaming chips in conjunction with Genesis Gaming’s BRAVO system product line.

The product line consists of BRAVO Pit, BRAVO Poker and BRAVO Cage. The BRAVO Pit and Poker systems provide casino operators with a table-management and player-tracking solution designed to boost rating accuracy and operational efficiency. The system incorporates sensor technologies, including radio frequency identification. BRAVO Cage is the latest addition to the product suite.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Aruze Gaming, acting as their distributor for chips including RFID,” said Randy Knust, Genesis Gaming Solutions’ president, in a prepared statement. “Combined with our industry-leading BRAVO system, this partnership will enable us to give the industry a truly complete RFID tracking solution that is secure, accurate and most importantly cost-effective in delivering advanced analytics to casinos looking to further improve operations.”

Coupled with its recently announced Walker Digital Table System partnership, Aruze Gaming has forged a solution that fuses RFID PJM 3.0 technology, the BRAVO system product line and an RFID casino chip. The company’s strategy, it reports, is to provide RFID and non-RFID chips offering high security at competitive pricing.

“As an operator, I know there is huge demand for a product that allows casinos to correctly reinvest in their table games players,” said Eric Persson, Aruze Gaming America’s global chief operating officer and president, in the prepared statement. “The only thing that has stopped RFID chips from being widespread is price. Aruze is offering a comprehensive RFID chip product at less than half the cost of our competitors.”

Brandon Knowles, Aruze Gaming America’s director of table games, added in the statement, “It’s difficult to imagine a market dynamic better than this—powerful products, industry leading partners, and a world hungry for data. This is the triple threat.” Aruze Gaming plans to showcase its RFID casino chips using the BRAVO system product line at the Global Gaming Expo 2018, to be held in Las Vegas, Nev., in October 2018.

SATO Provides RFID Wine Cellar Inventory Solution to Resort Hotel

SATO, a global provider of automatic-identification solutions intended to streamline operations, has supplied a new RFID-enabled inventory-management solution to the Tokyo Baycourt Club Hotel & Spa Resort. The system has helped the hotel to improve the stocktaking operations for its staff, according to SATO, and has boosted inventory-management accuracy. SATO claims this is the first system of its kind used by Japan’s hotel industry.

The Tokyo Baycourt Club is located in the Odaiba entertainment district, operated by Resorttrust, Inc. The stocktaking operations of its roughly 5,000 bottles of wine for its restaurants, bars and lounges previously required sommeliers to handle each bottle separately and enter details manually into the purchasing system. The hotel sought a faster, more accurate system to streamline operations.

Since switching to RFID, the Tokyo Baycourt Club can now scan multiple bottles with contactless operation and automatically register inventory in its purchasing system, thereby reducing the amount of time employees spend on stocktaking. At one restaurant in the resort, two workers previously spent eight hours apiece on this task. After the upgrade, the operation only required a single employee and two hours of labor—an 88 percent labor savings.

“Thanks to the RFID system, we were able to both streamline our painstaking stocktaking processes and reduce the number of mistakes from human error,” said Katsuhiro Kawamura, the Tokyo Baycourt Club’s head of operations, in a prepared statement. “It also improves accuracy of inventory management by allowing us to see inventory right away, which minimizes our risk of lost bottles. We are looking at using RFID for other products and expanding the system to hotels in the future.”

The Tokyo Baycourt Club’s beverages head, Katsuhiko Aihara, added in the prepared statement, “We implemented RFID as a way to strengthen our internal controls. By utilizing RFID in our stocktaking, we digitized our wine list which ensures inventory management transparency. If successful, it will allow us to go paperless and provide labor savings for refreshing our wine stocks, speeding up our response time for customers and reducing total working hours. I expect the system to provide a good return on investment.”

The UHF RFID tags used for this system were designed by SATO Material Co., Ltd. a SATO Group company that specializes in the production and sales of industrial rubber products, synthetic resins and RFID tags. Due to interference, RFID read rates are generally problematic when attached to items containing liquids, the company explains. However, the wine bottle buckle-on tags developed by SATO allow for error-free reads from as far away as 50 centimeters (19.7 inches). Because the tags are not directly affixed to the bottles, SATO notes, there is no effect on wine quality. The RFID tags are paired with security labels to prevent them from falling off or being replaced.

Advanced ID Electronics Announces NXP RFID-IoT Product Launch With NedCard

Advanced ID Electronics (AdvanIDe), an independent provider of semiconductors for the smart-card, Internet of Things (IoT), Near Field Communication (NFC) and RFID industries, has announced the product launch of NXP Semiconductors‘ UCODE8 MicroSON-3 package from NedCard, a semiconductor assembly and testing company with plants in Europe and Asia.

NedCard’s package solutions are used in smart-card, RFID, sensor, machine-to-machine, IoT and other enabling technologies. AdvanIDe will serve as NedCard’s distribution partner for the MicroSON-3.

The company offers technical support, as well as example products and source code, and has experienced field application engineers available at strategic locations. “By working together with NedCard,” said Kay Plaumann, AdvanIDe’s segment manager for secure access, “we can offer additional packages and services which are required from customers to build successful and trusted RFID solutions, specifically in industrial and IoT applications.”

NedCard, according to AdvanIDe, is expanding into new applications and areas of business. “With AdvanIDe, we are pleased to expand on our existing long-term relationship beyond the packaging of smart card ICs,” said Maarten Dolf Desertine, NedCard’s manager for new business development, in the prepared statement. “We have been working together closely for many years and are now tackling new opportunities to provide value-add to UHF ICs, that expand use cases beyond traditional RFID item tagging applications.”

STMicroelectronics Intros Wireless Charging Kit for Wearables, IoT Devices

STMicroelectronics has announced its STEVAL-ISB045V1 plug-and-play wireless battery-charger development kit, designed to let users build compact chargers at up to 2.5W with a 20-millimeter-diameter coil. The device is designed for charging small Internet of Things (IoT) devices and wearables, such as smart watches, sports gear and health-care equipment.

Built around the STWBC-WA wireless charging-transmitter controller, the kit comprises a charging base unit containing a transmitter board with the coil already connected and ready to use. PC-based STSW-STWBCGUI software can configure the STWBC-WA and monitor runtime information, such as power delivered, bridge frequency, demodulation quality and protocol status. The kit includes a dongle for running the GUI, while the supporting ecosystem includes certified reference boards, software and detailed documentation.

The STWBC-WA controller chip contains integrated drivers and natively supports full- or half-bridge topologies for powering the antenna. The half-bridge option allows charging up to 1W with a smaller-diameter coil for a more compact form factor. The chip supports all standard wireless-charging features, including foreign object detection (FOD) and active presence detection for safe charging, and uses digital feedback to adapt the transmitted power according to load conditions. Two firmware options give users the choice of a turnkey solution or customizing the application using APIs to access on-chip peripherals, including an ADC, a UART and GPIOs.

The STEVAL-ISB045V1 kit is available now for $42. STWBC-WA transmitter controller ICs are currently in production, priced from $2.82 in VFQFPN32 package for orders of 1,000 pieces.

Harting Releases Industrial IoT Starter Kits

Harting has announced three new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) starter kits. Each kit contains the necessary hardware and software for basic applications, Harting reports, enabling companies to embrace the IIoT. All three kits are available now, according to the company.

The first kit is the MICA CISS Complete IIoT Starter Kit, intended for basic condition-monitoring applications. It comes with a sensor that can measure seven parameters, including vibrations, acoustics, temperature, humidity and more. The sensor is connected to the Harting MICA, an edge-computing device that processes, computes and visualizes all data from the sensor. The MICA comes with pre-installed software, which includes a dashboard that shows all sensor readouts.

The MICA RF-R300 Complete RFID Starter Kit contains everything needed for a basic RFID asset-tracking application, the company reports: industrial RFID tags, a MICA RF-R300 reader, two antennas and cabling. The MICA comes with a pre-installed demo version of Harting’s certified Ha-VIS middleware, which translates raw RFID signals into modern software protocols.

The third kit, the MICA Basic Ethernet Starter Kit, is designed for connecting peripheral devices via Ethernet using communications protocols such as Modbus-TCP or OPC UA. The kit contains the cabling required to get started, as well as a basic version of the MICA and software. As with the other two starter kits, it comes with Fast-Ethernet capabilities, eight digital GPIO ports, and the ability to be powered over PoE or 12V/24V.

RFID Ticket Provider FineLine Technologies Acquires South Africa-based Traderplus

Global bar-code label and RFID ticket provider FineLine Technologies has acquired Traderplus, a service bureau provider of bar-code tags and labels based in Durban, South Africa. FineLine primarily serves the North American and European retailers, while Traderplus serves the South African, Australian, Chinese and European markets.

“We look forward to enhancing our product and service offering by bringing Traderplus’s innovative and proprietary manufacturing process to all of our customers,” said George Hoffman, FineLine’s chairman and CEO. “Acquiring Traderplus brings us closer to our goal of becoming the world’s premier barcode and RFID tag and label service bureau.”

Hoffman said the acquisition will bring FineLine’s FASTtrak integrated online platform to retailers in South Africa, Australia and China. FASTtrak is intended to improve order placement, tracking and turnaround times, he indicated, and to provide visibility into PO details and analytics.

“Through FASTtrak, FineLine delivers retail tickets, RFID and bar-code labels to over 45,000 customers worldwide,” Hoffman said in the prepared statement. “It enables our retail customers to more effectively and accurately manage their global supply chains. With the Traderplus acquisition, retailers in South Africa, Australia and China can now enjoy the supply chain benefits available through FASTtrak.”