RFID News Roundup

By Admin

Fujitsu upgrades its ultra-rugged UHF RFID tags for commercial laundry systems; OmniAir Certification Services accredits MET Labs as first test lab for tolling interoperability certification; Coast 2 Coast's facilities-management services and solutions to leverage Centrak's RTLS; Chicago bus operator Pace selects Cubic for payment system; Adidas partied with RFID during the Olympics.

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Fujitsu Upgrades Its Ultra-Rugged UHF RFID Tags for Commercial Laundry Systems

Fujitsu Frontech North America, headquartered in Foothill Ranch, Calif., has announced its Fujitsu Washable WT-A521 and WT-A522 UHF-Band RFID tags. The new tags are part of the company's line of washable, flexible EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags designed primarily to track garments and linens by laundry service providers. According to the company, the WT-A521 and WT-A522 models incorporate new materials and antennas designed to withstand more than 200 washings; harsh chemicals associated with dry cleaning; temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 degrees Celsius) for drying, and 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) for ironing; and the pressure of flat linen pressing and water-extraction systems, at up to 60 bar of extraction pressure. In addition, the firm reports, the new tags improve reading range by 30 to 70 percent compared with the previous versions (models WT-A511 and WT-A611), providing more than a 6-foot reading distance. The tags measure approximately 2 inches in length and less than a half-inch in width—about the size of a shirt stay—and can be sewn or heat-sealed into linens. The WT-A521 and A522 tags are designed for UHF RFID bands, both in the United States (902 to 928 MHz) and in Europe (865.6 to 867.7 MHz). The difference between the two models, Fujitsu Frontech explains, is that the WT-A521 tag has a permanently locked Electronic Product Code (EPC) ID number, while the WT-A522 model has a password-locked EPC code. The WT-A522 tag (which replaces the WT-A611) is the standard global tag, while the WT-A521 (replacing the WT-A511 version) is a special-order tag. According to Fujitsu Frontech, the WT-A521 is suitable for companies requiring absolute security, since there is no way to change the EPC number, which is preferred in Japan. There are customers that do not require that level of security, however, so the company also created the WT-A522 tag. A number of organizations are using the older versions of the tags, including Disney's theme parks (see RFID Helps Disney Employees Get Into Character) and various casinos (see New Chicago-area Casino Chips Its Uniforms and Resort Uses RFID to Track Uniforms).

MET Labs Gets Accreditation as First Test Lab for Tolling Interoperability Certification

OmniAir Certification Services Inc. (OCS), an independent third-party certification services provider, has announced that it has accredited MET Laboratories as the first test lab in the 6C-for-Tolling Certification Program. The program is designed to ensure tolling tag and reader interoperability across equipment vendors and toll facilities that choose to deploy equipment certified as compliant with the 6C Requirements Document—based on the ISO 18000-6C (EPC Gen 2) standard for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags—as defined by the 6C Toll Operators Committee. OCS was created by and is managed by OmniAir, a nonprofit technology-focused member association launched to enable the deployment of interoperable advanced transportation technologies and applications through the member-defined OmniAir Certification Program. 6C Certification includes testing for both baseline and applied interoperability. According to OCS, baseline interoperability ensures that tag and reader pairs can transition successfully from one state to another, as well as validate memory data. Applied interoperability testing, OCS indicates, ensures that tags and readers can withstand the toll environment; it includes performance, ultraviolet (UV), humidity and temperature tests performed under various parameters. 6C Certification testing is already underway at MET Labs, with the first certificates slated to be presented at the 80th Annual IBTTA Meeting and Exhibition, to be held in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 9-12, 2012.

Coast 2 Coast's Facilities-Management Services and Solutions to Leverage Centrak's RTLS

Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Coast 2 Coast—which provides a variety of services focused on end-to-end facilities management, including integrated facilities-management systems, as-built surveys and assessments, and facility documentation for design professionals, contractors and owners—has announced that it is adopting Centrak's real-time location system (RTLS), which employs infrared (IR) and 900 MHz active RFID technologies. Coast 2 Coast is integrating Centrak's RTLS solution with the asset- and facilities-management solutions and services that it provides, and is reselling Centrak's hardware, including tags and readers. By pairing facility models used in space management, or asset documentation utilized for preventative maintenance, with Centrak's RTLS data, says Jeff Van Fleet, Coast 2 Coast's business development director, Coast 2 Coast will be able to accurately document and assess a client's particular business problems.

Chicago Bus Operator Pace Selects Cubic for Payment System

Payment and IT services provider and systems integrator Cubic Transportation Systems has announced that it has been approved by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to deliver the agency's open fare payment system to Pace, the suburban bus division of the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority. The deal, according to Cubic Transportation Systems, expands the largest North America transit industry public private partnership for fare-collection systems and services, thereby increasing Cubic's original contract by approximately $50 million to $508.9 million. Cubic Transportation Systems is a business segment of San Diego-based Cubic. The open fare system employs RFID technology compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, Cubic Transportation Systems reports, which is also used by contactless bank cards, and will let CTA and Pace customers pay their transit fares with any contactless bank card that conforms to that protocol, just as they can pay for goods and services in the retail world. CTA's rail station turnstiles, as well as CTA's and Pace's buses, will have card readers that accept payments via a simple tap of their contactless credit, debit or bank card. The new system is set to launch in spring 2013, and will be fully operational in 2014, according to CTA. It is intended to eliminate the multiple magnetic-stripe cards, the transit authority explains, in addition to the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus currently used for fare payments. As they become more available in the marketplace, NFC-enabled mobile phones with bank cards residing on them will also be accepted in the system, according to Cubic Transpiration Systems. For customers lacking a bank card, contactless reloadable prepaid cards will be sold at retail stores and vending machines in CTA stations. Pace's participation will add another 500 sites where the reloadable cards are sold, bringing the total number of retail locations across Chicago and neighboring communities up to 2,500. Earlier this month, Radiant RFID, a provider of RFID asset-tracking solutions, announced that it had implemented asset-tracking systems at Pace's headquarters, located in Arlington Heights, Ill., as well as at its operating divisions and carrier locations (see RFID News Roundup: Radiant RFID Implements Asset Tracking for Chicago-area Bus-Transit Agency). Radiant's Virtual Asset Tracker (VAT), the foundation of the system for Pace, relies on tracking technology (including RFID tags and bar codes), as well as desktop and mobile clients, installed on Motorola Solutions' MC3190-Z RFID handhelds, and Web reporting. VAT replaces a system and various devices that were beyond their designed and useful lifespan, Radiant reports, and enables Pace to continue utilizing existing bar-code labels, while moving toward an ultimate goal of placing RFID tags on all assets.

Adidas Partied With RFID During the Olympics

Adidas, the official sportswear provider for the 2012 Olympics in London, sponsored a series of 12 parties and similar events that employed radio frequency identification technology to control access to private parties and connect the party-goers to social media. Adidas commissioned Sparklestreet to run the events, which included the first London performance in 15 years by the Stone Roses, an English alternative rock band. The 12 nights also featured an immersive screening of The Chemical Brothers' film Don't Think, live performances from Factory Floor and Wretch 32, and stationary-biking competitions held by Rollapaluza. The closing party was "running things"—a celebration of U.K. street style from Crooked Tongues. Stormcrowd, a London consultancy and media-development firm, also participated in developing the events. Using Intellitix systems and contactless-payment wristbands provided by ID&C, an online audience of 2 million was generated when ticket holders linked their wristbands to Facebook at custom-built RFID-enabled portals; the Facebook connectivity allowed attendees to check in at the social network, and to post photos of the event. The venues also featured custom-built access-control portals with built-in RFID reader antennas for secure access control, as well as a cashless bar that allowed guests to use their RFID wristbands and cards preloaded with drink tokens to purchase beverages. Nearly 10,000 VIPs, Olympic athletes, celebrities, crew and artists were hosted, and were provided with hospitality throughout the 17 days, according to Gary McClarnan, Sparklestreet Projects's CEO and Adidas Underground's producer. Intellitix has provided its solutions to a number of music and entertainment events, including this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, held in Coachella, Calif. (see RFID News Roundup: Intellitix Links RFID and Facebook at Coachella Festival and the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, which took place on July 4 to 15, in Ottawa, Ontario (see RFID News Roundup: Bluesfest Program Includes Intellitix RFID Solution).