RFID News Roundup

By Admin

Awarepoint secures $27 million in new financing; TeleTracking announces availability of its next-gen RTLS; Fallsview Casino Resort selects RFID to track uniforms; UPM RFID runs at European triathlon; AIM UK re-brands to become SMART iD.

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Awarepoint Secures $27 Million in New Financing

Real-time location system (RTLS) provider Awarepoint has announced that it has secured $27 million in Series F financing. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), a new investor for Awarepoint, led the financing round, which also included participation from new investor Top Tier Capital Partners, as well as from existing investors Cardinal Partners, Venrock and Jafco Ventures. Awarepoint reports that it will use the capital to fuel the company's next stage of growth, and to drive further adoption of its aware360° Platform, a suite of RTLS-enabled solutions designed to help hospital clients reduce hard operating costs, boost top-line revenues, and increase compliance management and patient satisfaction. Awarepoint's solution includes ZigBee-based RTLS hardware, software-as-a-service (SaaS) based software, and maintenance, management and consulting services. Clients have deployed Awarepoint's patented technology and software platforms in the areas of asset management and tracking, rental reduction, temperature monitoring, hand hygiene, emergency service, perioperative departmental workflow and throughput, enterprise patient tracking and workflow automation. In June 2011, Awarepoint announced that 46 hospitals and health-care systems, including 19 new client facilities, had contracted to utilize the company's software applications, and those new contracts and activations, the firm reports, had increased the number of Awarepoint clients to 153 hospitals and asset tags under management to 216,884 (see RFID News Roundup: Awarepoint Reports Its RTLS and Workflow Solutions Installed in 46 Hospitals). "Awarepoint delivers innovative technology and software solutions to healthcare providers," said Dana Mead, a partner at KPCB, in a prepared statement, "enabling them to uniquely address escalating costs and compliance challenges, which is why KPCB is so excited to be an investor in the company."

TeleTracking Announces Availability of Its Next-Gen RTLS

TeleTracking Technologies, Inc., has announced the availability of its second-generation real-time locating system (RTLS), known as TeleTracking RTLS. According to the company, the new offering combines the firm's 20 years' experience in patient-flow optimization and resource management, as well as enterprise software solutions and RTLS locating accuracy, in order to provide a single-source solution for real-time information, to help hospitals manage operations and logistics, improve patient care, reduce waste and increase revenue. TeleTracking RTLS now relies on infrared-based location positioning, combined with a 900 MHz communication backbone that the firm says will not compete or interfere with existing Wi-Fi networks. This solution features enhanced locating technology aimed at improving the tracking, monitoring and locating of assets, patients and employees at a variety of levels beyond zones, including at the room, bed, sub-room and bay levels, as well as in areas without the confinement of four walls, such as emergency department bays. "While a zone-level-accurate RTLS can be sufficient for a slight improvement in search times, true asset management needed to change hoarding behaviors and increase utilization, to drive down overbuying or over-renting," says Valerie Fritz, TeleTracking's VP of marketing. "Our previous technology is radio frequency (RF) based, and RF-based systems, like Wi-Fi or ZigBee, can not guarantee room-to-room locating, and really struggle with sub-room- and bay-level locating. We went back to the drawing board to develop an automated system that combines the highest RTLS accuracy and immediacy." The new RTLS infrastructure is nearly 100 percent battery-powered, and is thus not restricted by outlet locations. The system operates in controlled scatter or reverse mode, eliminating the line-of-sight concerns of many IR systems that require visually unobstructed straight lines between transmitter and receiver (tag). The TeleTracking RTLS network also maintains zone-level location based on Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI), utilizing RF collectors as access points. In addition, the solution is now integrated with the company's Capacity Management Suite (previously, the RTLS was a stand-alone application). "TeleTracking's goal and bigger vision with RTLS was always to integrate with our Capacity Management Suite of applications and systems," Fritz states. Capacity Management Suite, designed to help hospitals optimize and manage patient flow, includes a patient-tracking portal, reporting software, and applications for admitting, tracking and transporting patients, as well as software to track bed turnover. "By adding RTLS automation to these solutions," Fritz notes, "we eliminate manual steps in the process and provide further visibility, accountability and communication across the enterprise to drive patient flow and capacity improvements even further in hospitals." TeleTracking RTLS is still available as a standalone system, and includes all hardware and software necessary to enable hospitals to utilize location data. A variety of RTLS tag types are available, including asset tags, asset-status tags, temperature-monitoring tags, patient tags and staff badges. This fall, TeleTracking also plans to open an Enterprise Solution Center at its office in Raleigh, N.C., as a forum for educating existing and prospective clients regarding the latest technology solutions. At the Enterprise Solution Center, customers will be able to view the next generation of TeleTracking enterprise workflow solutions, including the RTLS platform, to solve workflow problem scenarios, reduce costs and get more out of existing hospital capacity.

Fallsview Casino Resort Selects RFID to Track Uniforms

InvoTech Systems, Inc., a laundry-, linen- and uniform-cleaning system provider, has announced that Fallsview Casino Resort located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, has selected its GIMS Uniform System, which features ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology. The resort is a $1 billion gaming complex offering views of Niagara Falls—both the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. The GIMS inventory-control system, which employs RFID tags to help organizations track and manage linens, uniforms and other garments, will interface with White Conveyors' U-Pick-It System to provide around-the-clock automated uniform distribution to the property's 3,500 uniformed team members. The GIMS solution includes Impinj Speedway Revolution readers, AN720 and AN480 antennas from Motorola Solutions and passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags provided by Fujitsu Frontech North America. The U-Pick-It system is an automated solution that automatically delivers the proper uniform to an employee when he or she presents the appropriate credentials. Integration with GIMS means that staff members at Fallsview Casino Resort need only present their RFID-enabled employee ID card to an RFID reader, and the system will automatically sort, find and deliver the correct uniform. Plans call for the new uniform inventory-tracking system to become fully operational in September 2011. "We selected GIMS to achieve greater labor efficiency and stronger uniform-tracking controls, and to maintain a perpetual inventory of our substantial garment investment for our 3,500 uniformed staff," said Andrei Kun, Fallsview Casino Resort's executive director of resort operations, in a prepared statement. In addition, the GIM UHF RFID tracking system can scan, inventory and generate reports for entire carts of uniforms, thereby creating efficiencies by eliminating the labor-intensive job of hand-counting and manual recordkeeping. UHF RFID tags are sewn into uniforms that enable automated recordkeeping as the garments move into and out of the uniform department, as well as to and from laundries.

UPM RFID Runs at European Triathlon

UPM RFID has announced that its UPM DogBone EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags were used for race timing at the Long Distance Triathlon European Championships 2011. The event took place in Tampere, Finland, on Aug. 21, 2011. This was the first time that the company's UHF RFID tags have been used at this level in sports timing. The competitors—several hundred athletes from more than 20 European countries—were wearing tailor-made, water-resistant ankle bands with embedded UPM DogBone tags. The tags were read by ThingMagic readers installed at register points in the transition area gates. The competitors were tracked in real time, and the results were monitored on the event organizer's Web site. The long-distance triathlon comprises a 4,000-meter (13,123-foot) swim, 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) of cycling and a 30-kilometer (18.6) run. In triathlon races, the timing is split into five portions: swim, transition, cycle, transition and run. The race area comprising the start, transition and race finish was located at Ratina Stadium, in the center of Tampere. "Real-time timing, especially after the swim, was extremely accurate, even though UPM RFID tags embedded in ankle bands had been in the water for around an hour," said Mikko Laitinen, a board member of Team 226, in a prepared statement. "With manual timing methods, when race bibs are usually attached to swimming caps, it's almost impossible to register the intermediate times exactly. UHF RFID technology makes it possible to follow the race in real time, so the race is also extremely spectator-friendly and support groups can immediately assist the racers when necessary." Team 226 organizes sports races and provides related products, as well as sales and rental services, regarding race-timing equipment and solutions. The company's event-organizing experience includes several Finnish Ironman and Winter Triathlon Championships, as well as cross-country duathlons, and supplying timing services for the Winter World Championships.

AIM UK Re-Brands to become SMART iD

AIM UK has announced that it is rebranding itself as the Smart Identification Association (SMART iD). The organization—a 27-year-old, independent industry association in the United Kingdom—is focused on the automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) family of technologies. In addition to the rebranding, the organization reports that it will undertake a wide range of initiatives aimed at bringing together solution providers, academic institutions, and current and potential users from the United Kingdom and Europe. "This move enables us to widen our interests and lines up with the many 'smart' initiatives and developments here in Europe," said Ian Smith, AIM UK's founding general secretary and SMART iD's newly appointed CEO, in a prepared statement. "The present economic climate offers our industry unparalleled opportunities and we look forward to launching a range of educational initiatives that will draw attention to government and industry across many sectors of the efficiencies smart technologies can offer. We are very encouraged at the active and supporting role that the European Commission and the British government are playing in recognizing the importance of RFID, the Internet of Things, and many other smart initiatives." SMART iD has appointed "champions" to the range of industry sector and technology clusters that will enable solution-provider members to network with relevant user members and organizations. The first six industry clusters and "champion" already appointed are: Smart Industry, covering smart manufacturing, smart transport, logistics and smart construction; Smart Cities, including smart environment; Smart Security and Anti-Counterfeiting; Smart Forensics; Smart Farming; and Smart Healthcare. SMART iD also plans to develop a range of technology clusters that it considers particularly pertinent to today's European market, including positioning and location technologies; RFID technologies; natural feature technologies; standards; bar code, 2D and verification technologies; the Internet of Things; and Internet-connected objects. The organization will completely reorganize its subscription base, drastically reducing membership fees. Members will be invited to nominate the clusters in which they would like to participate, at a cost of £100 ($163) per cluster, with discounts to those wishing to join multiple clusters. SMART iD is expected to be formally launched in November of this year.