New RFID Chips And Services Are On The Way - InformationWeek

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New RFID Chips And Services Are On The Way

AT&T and Cisco are among those planning new products and services for RFID.

As the EPCglobal U.S. Conference gets under way this week in Atlanta, radio-frequency identification vendors are working to advance use of the technology with new tags and services, as well as lower prices.

Nonprofit RFID standards group EPCglobal Inc. today will say that it has certified one tag and nine readers under its hardware certification program for Gen 2, the next generation in RFID technology.

The first vendors to have products certified for Gen 2 are Alien Technology, Applied Wireless Identification Group, Impinj, Intermec Technologies, Symbol Technologies, ThingMagic, and MaxID Group. EPCglobal has contracted with third-party testing lab MET Laboratories Inc. to certify the products.

Alien Technology, meanwhile, has dropped the per-tag price by 44%, to 12.9 cents, on its electronic product code Class 1 RFID labels for quantities of 1 million or more. The 96-bit ALL-9338-02 pressure-sensitive label is suitable for use in supply-chain applications from retail to government.

The Fluidic Self Assembly manufacturing process and High Speed Strap Attach Machine assembly technology allows Alien to design and sell low-cost packaging of small semiconductors in high volumes. The savings are passed on to customers, says Alien. In a related announcement, the vendor reported adding new products to its tag line, including a high-performance Gen 1 tag and two high-performance Gen 2 tags.

AT&T says five or six customers have opted to participate in a managed RFID network service that will get under way in early January. The 90-day trials will test AT&T's ability to effectively manage RFID services by first lying down the infrastructure and then deploying the services, which will target retail, manufacturing, transportation and government sectors. "There will be significant demand for network traffic management for object to object collaboration," says Eric Shepcaro, AT&T's VP of strategy and business development. "We'll do a comprehensive assessment on their business requirements for RFID and sensor-based networks, and then deploy the readers and edge servers, link them with tags and routers, and then hook it into our multiprotocol label switching network and host the environment." But Ma Bell isn't the only telecom looking to manage RFID services. Cisco Systems unveiled a plan to roll out an "Intelligent Foundation" for RFID. The strategy aims to help enterprises introduce RF technologies into the supply chain. Offerings include the Cisco Application Oriented Network for RFID, Cisco Services for RFID, Cisco Wireless Location Service, and supporting RFID-related products from partners ConnecTerra, Intermec Technologies, PanGo Networks, and ThingMagic.

Central to Cisco RFID Solutions, built on open standards, is the extension of Cisco AON, which is scheduled to ship in October, to now include embedded RFID middleware functions into the network, onto Cisco data-center switches and branch-office routers, making the platform scalable and easy to deploy, according to the company. The RFID-enabled Cisco AON modules can be installed throughout an enterprise's network: at the edge for RFID event capture and filtering, and in the data center for data authentication, additional filtering and aggregation, and application protocol bridging. In addition, the AON modules can perform tasks such as outbound encryption, digital signature, and content-based routing when sharing data with external business partners.

And Hewlett-Packard says it has teamed up with Royal Philips Electronics to test Gen 2 RFID tags in its San Paulo, Brazil, manufacturing facility. The two have been testing tag transmission rates to RFID readers for HP to use internally and to build a service it can take to market. "We've spent the last two months getting clarity on what it takes to do build technical solutions," says Frank Lanza, director of RFID solutions at HP.

The findings include improved read rates, although Lanza couldn't provide specifics. He attributes improvements to a maturing technology. The new generation of tags is easier to program--more similar to systems on chip technology. The intelligence is in the silicon and antenna transmitting the signal instead of the RFID reader. The chip in the Gen 2 tag tells the reader when to begin reading the signal and when to stop.

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