RFID News Roundup

By Admin

CNRFID, NRFLab collaborate to offer EPC-compliant UHF RFID tag tests; NFC technology supports Rock the Vote campaign; HID Global deploys Voyantic Tagsurance UHF tester for tag quality control; ADR Software to provide real-time workforce info for Baltimore and D.C. construction projects; Diamond Pet Foods adopts iGPS RFID-tagged plastic pallets; RFID Hotel acquired by Lodging Access Systems.

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

CNRFID, NRFLab Collaborate to Offer EPC-Compliant UHF RFID Tag Tests

The French National RFID Center (CNRFID), a nonprofit organization created to facilitate the adoption and use of radio frequency identification technology and develop its applications, and NRFLab, a company specializing in testing active and passive RF components, have announced their collaboration and ability to offer neutral testing of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC RFID tags, as well as early comparisons of different EPC-compliant options. According to the two organizations, the collaboration will enable UHF RFID solutions developers to access CNRFID's expertise and network, and to use NRFLab's UHF RFID test platform to compare and choose the best solutions for their applications before undertaking further development or production. CNRFID offers RFID providers, users, integrators and laboratories an independent resource and a dedicated environment for their specific RF testing needs, while NRFLab provides an EPC Gen 2-compliant test platform for UHF RFID tags. The partnership, CNRFID and NRFLab report, will enable developers to validate tags in relation to the EPC standard. The test platform can then evaluate—in a fixed test environment—tag performance for such technical characteristics as wake-up power, best frequency domain, maximum reading distance, maximum data rate, timing response, response level and variation error. Moreover, developers can utilize the platform to compare their tags with those of competitors, and to determine in advance which areas need to be improved, and which have an advantage. The organizations say they expect that integrators may want to utilize the platform to choose between several different tags. Additionally, RFID reader manufacturers can use the platform to test, evaluate and record their readers' performances with various tags. In that way, CNRFID and NRFLab report, they can develop reader architectures that better match with various tags or categories of tags.

NFC Technology Supports Rock the Vote Campaign

The well-known Rock the Vote project, aimed at galvanizing the youth vote, is launching a "We Will" campaign that includes Near Field Communication (NFC) interactivity provided by Blue Bite, a mobile-marketing firm specializing in location-based campaigns, as well as messages containing photography and graphics. According to Blue Bite, We Will's objective, rendered by creative agency Apartment One and TaskForce, a social-marketing and cultural-organizing agency, is to motivate youths to vote and shape the future, rather than merely accepting it. The initiative incorporates billboards, NFC-layered bus shelters, phone kiosks, wild postings, taxi tops, college shuttle buses and digital screens placed within high-visibility areas. Blue Bite's proprietary mTag platform will be leveraged at thousands of bus shelters, allowing smartphone users to connect with the interactive campaign by tapping or scanning the mTAG-enabled posters to immediately register to vote, without having to download external applications. Embedded in each mTag is Smartrac's BullsEye 13.56 MHz passive NFC RFID inlay, designed for tokens, NFC stickers and smart posters, and featuring an antenna measuring 1.4 inches in diameter. Also working in partnership on the initiative is the PVBLIC Foundation, an aggregator of media across all platforms that works to pair media space with key nonprofits at the local, national and global levels, and The Judge Group, an independent media agency. "Layering NFC technology atop bus-shelter posters with a trusted company like Blue Bite aligns with youth voters' aptitude as early adopters and on-the-go lifestyle, said Anne Judge, The Judge Group's founder and managing principal, in a prepared statement. "It also allowed us to switch the mobile engagement message midway through posting from 'register to vote' to 'vote.' That's a welcomed tool when different states have different voter registration deadlines."

HID Global Deploys Voyantic Tagsurance UHF Tester for Tag Quality Control

Tag manufacturer HID Global has deployed Voyantic's Tagsurance UHF Tester at its production facility, to help test the functionality of equipment operating at a wide frequency range so that it can perform application-specific testing based on the tuning level in the end application. Voyantic is a Finland-based provider of RFID measurement equipment. HID Global initially used the Tagsurance tester at its research and development (R&D) and quality labs before moving the device to the production floor. Though unable to disclose specific technical details regarding HID Global's implementation, Juho Partanen, Voyantic's director of sales, says the Tagsurance production tester can detect and flag all ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags that do not meet their specified characteristics. Defects typical of any tag-production environment include defective or misplaced integrated circuits (ICs), poor IC-to-antenna attachment, and mistuned antennas. The tester can basically screen out any tags showing one or more of these defects. HID is employing the Tagsurance device to test its UHF tag products during the final phase of production. In the event that a weak or nonfunctional tag is detected, Partanen explains, the tester provides a FAIL signal that can trigger the tag's marking or removal. Because the device is able to test on a wide frequency range—from 800 MHz to 1,100 MHz—Partanen reports, it is able to monitor the wideband characteristics and sensitivity of tags and inlays within a production environment, and to detect even the smallest of changes. The speed of this highly sophisticated tester scales up, he says, to meet the requirements of most production processes currently in use. "Typical UHF readers cannot provide this kind of visibility into the tag's frequency response," Partanen states. In a prepared statement, Eric Suligoj, HID Global's director of business development for industry and logistics identification technologies, said, "Minimizing the time taken to test each tag is an important factor during the quality-control process, given the volumes of tags we produce daily. But more importantly, this tester delivers accurate characterization data we haven't had access to before. This will enable us to fine-tune our processes and continue to deliver best-in-class UHF tag products."

ADR Software to Provide Real-time Workforce Information for Baltimore and D.C. Construction Projects

ADR Software has announced that it has been awarded assignments to provide its proprietary Workforce Monitor service, which leverages EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID, at three new projects in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., metro areas. In Washington, D.C., ADR was awarded assignments by Grunley Construction to provide real-time workforce-monitoring service for two projects taking place at American University. The projects will be monitored by ADR's Workforce Monitor service for a period of nine to 12 months, based on projected construction completion dates. In Baltimore, ADR was awarded an assignment by RAM/KBE Ventures to provide real-time workforce monitoring and local employment initiative analysis at the East Baltimore Learning Center under the oversight of East Baltimore Development Inc. The projects will be monitored by the Workforce Monitor service for a period of 12 to 14 months, based on the projected construction completion date. Workforce Monitor is designed to track the number of workers assigned to those projects, as well as their identities. By utilizing the service, construction projects' managers and supervisors can capture the identity of every worker entering or leaving a site, by means of Workforce Management Stations—RFID portals that read tags attached to hardhats. The Workforce Monitor software application processes the data collected from readers related to individuals passing through the portal, providing a user with such details as which contractors have employees on site at any given time, the number of workers at that location, whether those personnel possess the necessary training or certification required to be there, workforce demographics and each worker's zip code—thereby enabling a user to know the number of local jobs created by that project. The solution also provides such information as which workers have gone belowground on sites in which trenches or tunnels, for example, are being dug. Thus, in the event of an emergency, supervisors would know, in real time, who was below grade (see At Construction Sites, RFID Tracks Arrivals, Departures). According to Bruce Labovitz, ADR Software's president, ADR utilizes adhesive-backed Alien Technology Squiggle tags adhered to hard hats, ID badges and/or safety gear, in conjunction with Alien's ALR-9900+ readers and Laird Technologies' reader antennas. Labovitz adds that ADR has also introduced a new Mobile Monitoring Service employing a Venture Research handheld RFID reader, with a circularly polarized antenna, hand-trigger reading and a miniature PC.

Diamond Pet Foods Adopts iGPS RFID-tagged Plastic Pallets

Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS), a provider of all-plastic pallets with embedded EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, has announced that Diamond Pet Foods will immediately begin shipping its products on iGPS' pallets. Diamond Pet Foods—which was founded in 1970 and aims to provide high-quality pet foods at an affordable price—is using the RFID-enabled pallets at the request of one of its private-label customers (which the pet-food company says it is not at liberty to name). Each iGPS pallet has four identically encoded RFID tags, one embedded in each corner, which enables the tracking and tracing of products throughout the supply chain. IGPS handled the implementation, which included adding RFID interrogators throughout Diamond Pet Foods' production facility to track pallets as they move throughout the facility, are loaded onto trucks and are then returned. Switching from wood pallets to lighter-weight iGPS plastic pallets yields operational savings, according to iGPS, which cites studies performed by its customers that have shown savings of up to $2 per pallet load, due to lower transportation costs, decreased production downtime, larger loads per pallet, reduced product damage and fewer rejected loads. Additionally, the company reports, the pallets can be easily cleaned, do not absorb fluids that can cross-contaminate food and never require treatment with toxic pesticides or fungicides.

RFID Hotel Acquired by Lodging Access Systems

RFID Hotel, a business that supplies the hospitality industry with a spectrum of RFID key cards and credentials complying with the ISO 14333A standard for 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags and readers, has announced that it was recently acquired by holding company Lodging Access Systems LLC. The holding company is owned and operated by Steve Brooks, who has more than 20 years' experience in the sales, service and installation of electronic locks, in-room safes and aftermarket products related to the support of security solutions. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., RFID Hotel has an exclusive strategic joint venture agreement with what it calls a premier manufacturer of RFID cards and credentials to represent its products in North America (RFID Hotel declines to disclose this manufacturer's identity). According to RFID Hotel, its products include full-color guest and staff PVC key cards, available for immediate shipment, that leverage NXP Semiconductors RFID chips. The cards come with an unconditional lifetime warranty, and have an instruction panel on the back, printed in English and six other languages. The company also provides custom key cards for special events. All products are compatible with the RFID lock systems produced by the major manufacturers of lock and point-of-sale systems used by major hotel chains throughout North America, according to RFID Hotel. Prior to acquiring RFID Hotel, Lodging Access Systems held a long-term agreement representing Onity, a provider of facility-management technologies, such as electronic locks and smart-card systems, electronic in-room safes, and energy-management systems. Onity is a unit of UTC Fire & Security, a division of United Technologies.