RFID News Roundup

By Admin

NorthPeak, Epsilia unveil RFID-enabled solution to improve cold-chain performance; Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, TagMaster NA combine long-read-range and smart-card technologies; London's Portland Hospital implements patient security solutions from Stanley Healthcare; NXP delivers NFC to Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 devices; Murata, Cogiscan intro RFID-based PCB traceability solutions; Ekahau introduces Vision 2.0 location analytics platform for hospitals.

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

NorthPeak, Epsilia Unveil RFID-enabled Solution to Improve Cold-Chain Performance

NorthPeak, a provider of intelligent infrastructure solutions in the United States and Latin America, and Epsilia, a supplier of traceability and business process management (BPM) software solutions, have announced that they have jointly created a solutions suite designed to help growers and distributors of fresh produce maximize the shelf life of their products "from field to fork." The FreshMax suite, the two companies report, combines Intelleflex's battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID sensors and software to provide growers, manufacturers and distributors of fresh produce, meats, seafood and dairy products with the information they require to deliver maximum freshness in the foods they supply to their customers. Intelleflex's sensors are based on the firm's XC3 technology, which complies with the ISO 18000-6:2010 (Manchester BAP) standard for Class 3 BAP RFID tags, as well as the EPC Gen 2 RFID standard for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags. According to Intelleflex, the technology enables the tags to offer a read distances of up to 100 meters (328 feet) in open air, or to be readable in RF-challenging environments, such as those involving metals or liquids, or inside packages and containers. The company reports that its patented technology is uniquely suited for the cold supply chain, in which product-level monitoring is critical but has, to date, often been cost-prohibitive. Designed to provide both operations and management with easy-to-use information in real time, FreshMax features simple graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and a business intelligence module that can generate preloaded or customized performance and exception reports, according to NorthPeak and Epsilia. Specifically, the FreshMax Solution Suite includes FreshMax PreCool, designed to ensure that each pallet of produce in the pre-cooler is removed at the proper temperature. According to the two companies, it provides the ability to know the temperature status of each individual produce pallet throughout the pre-cooling process in real time, and to manage multiple products with variable temperature ranges in a single pre-cooler. The GUI displays the status of the product within the pre-cooler to operators and management, without requiring them to open the pre-cooler, thereby reducing labor costs and simplifying operations. As a result, the company adds, management now has complete visibility of several pre-cooling units simultaneously, from a single control point (on-site or remote). The business-intelligence engine creates reports that track both pre-cooler performance and exceptions to performance standards. The solution suite also includes FreshMax Storage, which monitors the temperature status of warehouse refrigerators and freezers and provides real-time updates (these can be segmented by sector to provide more precise information). Both FreshMax PreCool and FreshMax Storage are available now. During the first quarter of 2013, NorthPeak and Epsilia plan to release FreshMax Grower, designed to monitor produce temperature from field to pack-house. Next month, the two companies expect to begin offering FreshMax Distribution, which will track the temperature of each pallet of produce within a refrigerated truck, from packinghouse to distribution center. According to the companies, an algorithm can provide a "fresh grade" that gives warehouse operators an indication of what to ship out or deliver first.

Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, TagMaster NA Combine Long-Read-Range and Smart-Card Technologies

Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies has announced that companies using both Ingersoll Rand's aptiQ smart cards and TagMaster North America's long-range tags now have an option that combines the features of a long read-range tag with the benefits of the secure aptiQ MIFARE DESFire EV1 smart card for gaining access at parking garages, buildings and interior office space. The two technologies have been combined into a dual tag, known as the MeM duo Tag, that includes the aptIQ inlay, providing 13.56 MHz smart card and 125 kHz passive RFID technologies contained within the TagMaster semi-passive (also referred to as battery-assisted) 2.45 GHz RFID transponder. The 2.45 GHz transponder is designed to allow customers hands-free access to a corporate garage utilizing TagMaster's long-range RFID readers, with read ranges of up to 46 feet. The MeM duo Tag and long-range interrogator are available from TagMaster North America. The aptiQ inlay is supplied by Ingersoll Rand, which offers a full line of access-control readers and credentials supporting aptiQ 13.56 MHz smart-card and 125 kHz proximity technologies. The two technologies work together in a single housing, according to Diane Kehlenbeck, Ingersoll Rand's director of technology; for example, a user can affix the S1242 MeM duo tag to his or her vehicle's windshield or dashboard in order to attain hands-free access to a gated parking area. "When they leave the car, the user takes their MeM duo with them and can gain personal access to buildings, offices, elevators, etc.," Kehlenbeck explains, "by putting the tag within range of an aptiQ-compliant Ingersoll Rand reader, just as they would their aptiQ credential." The aptiQ smart card utilizes extra layers of security protection, such as mutual authentication, AES 128-bit diversified key encryption, and message authentication coding (MAC), to provide security to each transaction between a contactless smart credential and reader.

Murata, Cogiscan Intro RFID-based PCB Traceability Solutions

Murata Americas and Cogiscan, a provider of track, trace and control solutions for the electronics manufacturing industry, have announced a new partnership. The two companies report that they will combine their respective products to offer complete printed circuit board (PCB) track, trace and control solutions using Murata's RFID tag, Magicstrap, designed specifically for mounting on PCBs. The Magicstrap technology is designed to connect the RFID IC with the PCB's ground plain, by way of a 3-D multi-layer impedance matching circuit that provides dual bandwidth. The multi-layer matching circuit, designed by Murata, includes an RFID chip (compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards) mounted on ceramics. According to Murata, this announcement reflects the joint promotion of both companies' core strengths, while providing customers with a total RFID solution. Murata reports that Cogiscan's strength is in providing hardware and software solutions to customers based on their tracking and control requirements, while its own is the development of the necessary RFID components, as well as the ability to provide technical support when a tag is applied directly to a PCB. Cogiscan and Murata will jointly market and support the solution. "This is a natural collaboration for our companies," said David Kirk, Murata Americas' president, in a prepared statement. "RFID offers great potential compared to traditional identification and tracking methods, but this technology must be part of a complete solution to make it easy-to-use and implement." François Monette, Cogiscan's co-president, added, "We have always believed in the potential of RFID for PCB track, trace and control applications. Now, there is an off-the-shelf solution available from well-established suppliers at a reasonable cost, and we look forward to implementing this technology in a wide variety of electronic products."

London's Portland Hospital Implements Patient Security Solutions from Stanley Healthcare

Stanley Healthcare Solutions, a division of Stanley Black & Decker, has announced that The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, located in London, England, has selected and implemented the company's patient-security solutions to help protect newborn patients and children. Stanley Healthcare Solutions' line of wireless and electronic systems for monitoring assets, inventory and people includes the RFID-based Hugs, Pedz and Passport patient-security solutions, acquired from VeriChip in 2008 (see Stanley Bolsters RFID Portfolio With VeriChip Subsidiary). Those systems employ active tags that transmit signals at a variety of frequencies (some incorporate dual frequencies), and communicate via proprietary air-interface protocols. The company also offers fall-management solutions, such as Bed-Check, with pressure-sensitive pads to indicate an unsafe movement, and HealthTrax asset- and patient-tracking software that works in conjunction with real-time location system (RTLS) and RFID technologies. More than 1.5 million Hugs, Pedz or Passport battery-powered RFID tags are currently in use at hospitals, with approximately 15,000 customers at long-term and acute-care facilities, as well as at hospitals, utilizing Stanley Healthcare's solutions. In June 2012, Stanley Healthcare Solutions acquired RTLS provider AeroScout (see Stanley Healthcare Solutions Acquires Wi-Fi-based RTLS Company AeroScout). AeroScout's RTLS leverages Wi-Fi technology; at the time of the acquisition, Stanley Healthcare reported that it planned to incorporate its existing RFID technology with AeroScout's Wi-Fi-based hardware and MobileView software platform. The Portland Hospital for Women and Children is using the Hugs infant-protection system with Kisses mother-infant matching, as well as the Passport patient-protection system. These applications are part of Stanley Healthcare Solutions' Patient Security platform, and share a common device and communication network. The Hugs and Passport solutions, deployed across all nine floors of The Portland Hospital, have been integrated with a range of other security systems, including access-control equipment, elevators and video surveillance systems. The Hugs solution is designed to help protect infants from the potential threat of abduction; with the Kisses option, hospitals also receive an electronic means by which to properly match infants with their mothers, in support of traditional matching ID bands. The Passport solution, specifically designed to protect children from abduction or patient flight, offers such unique features as a tamper-resistant tag with a cut-resistant band, the ability to remove the tag for medical procedures and then reattach it using the same band, and a customizable "whiteboard" to help manage the patient census. The Portland Hospital is already planning to expand its deployment of Stanley Healthcare Solutions' products into a new patient area currently under construction on the ground floor, according to Stanley Healthcare. The medical facility is the only private hospital in the United Kingdom entirely dedicated to women and children. The Patient Security solutions in use at the hospital were implemented by Turun UK Ltd., a Stanley Healthcare Solutions partner.

NXP Delivers NFC to Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 Devices

NXP Semiconductors has announced that Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 operating system will integrate the software stack of NXP's NFC controller, known as PN544, thereby enabling rich user experiences and convenient interactions for mobile users. By being pre-integrated and end-to-end-validated by Microsoft, NXP reports, its Near Field Communication (NFC) technology becomes suitable for handset manufacturers looking to deliver NFC-enabled smartphones based on Windows Phone 8 quickly to market. The company first announced that it was working on compatibility with Windows 8 more than a year ago (see NFC Companies Prepare for Windows 8). Multiple Microsoft original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners have already announced Windows Phone 8 handsets with NFC functionality, including HTC, Nokia and Samsung. Windows Phone 8 smartphones with NFC capability will be able to leverage a range of NFC applications that provide contactless convenience and simplicity, as well as security for mobile transactions, NXP reports. For example, a Windows Phone 8 smartphone user can tap a tag to check in at a restaurant, tap a smart poster to access links to a Web site, or tap another NFC-enabled device to share content, such as a picture or video. With a secure element, NFC also enables a virtual wallet with credit cards, loyalty cards and coupons for mobile transactions, as well as solutions for mobile ticketing and access control. Additionally, NFC further enables interoperability by connecting Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8-based devices, such as laptops, ultrabooks and tablets.

Ekahau Introduces Vision 2.0 Location Analytics Platform for Hospitals

Ekahau, a provider of Wi-Fi-based real-time location system (RTLS) solutions, has announced the availability of Ekahau Vision 2.0, a new version of the company's location analytics platform for hospital administrators, employees and caregivers. Ekahau's Vision 2.0 software platform, the company reports, provides clear visibility into hospital workflows, delivering business intelligence from rules based on the movements of assets and individuals. The system consists of battery-powered Wi-Fi tags, mounted to assets or carried by people; the Ekahau RTLS Controller software, used to locate and manage tracked devices; and Ekahau Vision software. Vision 2.0 is now available as an upgrade for existing Ekahau customers, and as a part of all new Ekahau RTLS deployments. According to Ekahau, the new version provides improved visibility into the location of individual assets and groups of assets, enabling staff members to more quickly locate equipment and prevent loss, waste and theft. An updated interface includes reporting tools and dashboard views of workflow patterns across departments, including pharmacies, laboratories, ORs, ERs and catering areas, thereby offering business intelligence that improves decision-making.