Every conference has a takeaway moment or two. At the NRF Big Show in January, it was Macy’s executive Peter Longo saying that you can find a new use case for RFID every day, “even if you live to be 100 years old.”
At last week’s RFID Live event in San Diego, Airbus’ Carlo Nizam delivered the week’s impact moment when he confirmed that savings from deploying RFID technology within Airbus have topped $100 million.
Statements like those are made possible by the continuing maturation of RFID hardware and software. As deployment costs drop and innovation rises, new use cases are emerging across all industries. Checkpoint Systems, Smartrac, Impinj and NXP were just a few of the companies demonstrating that innovation during last week’s conference.
RF Micron and Smartrac are jointly developing a tag solution that senses moisture, with an eye toward embedding the tags into construction items like drywall. In addition, RF Micron just concluded a clinical trial at a healthcare facility for elders. The study consisted of embedding moisture sensing RFID tags to adult diapers, which are then scanned to indicate whether they need to be changed. A larger clinical trial is scheduled for next month.
The solution could play a big role in treating elderly incontinent patients in nursing homes, who are vulnerable to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and skin conditions. An RFID-enabled solution could help nursing homes to comply with federal and state guidelines that require them to change diapers every two hours.
Checkpoint Systems unveiled a pair of RFID labels that should drive RFID deployment in one of the last remaining untagged retail categories – cosmetics and beauty goods.
These categories have specific inventory management challenges based on their small size, SKU complexity and densely packed merchandising displays.
The new Slim tag has a label size of 88x7mm and is integrated with the latest Impinj Monza R6 chip. It has been optimized for performance with Checkpoint’s RFID EAS overhead solution, the EVOLVE® E10 exclusive pedestal, and other merchandise visibility solutions. At the request of several retailers, the Slim tags can be applied over the packaging of health/beauty and cosmetics products and are tamper proof, making them a viable replacement option for separate EAS tags.
With a label size of only 12x12mm, Checkpoint’s new Whisper offering is the smallest form factor in its category and comes with removable adhesive so that no marks are left on cosmetics products.
“Major retailers have expressed a strong interest in expanding RAIN RFID categories to include health, beauty and cosmetics categories,” says Uwe Sydon, senior vice president of innovation at Checkpoint Systems. “The new RAIN RFID tags specifically designed for these products will help achieve the goals of auto replenishment and inventory management.”
Innovation was also on display in the NXP booth, where the company unveiled UCODE DNA, the world’s first UHF RAIN RFID tag IC that combines long-range read performance with cryptographic authentication. With this new tag IC, developers no longer have to choose between contactless performance and the need for security in their applications, since UCODE DNA enables them to have access to both in a single RAIN RFID tag IC.
The new tag IC, which will be available by the end of June, is already gaining traction for electronic road tolling in Europe and elsewhere. Additional use cases include electronic vehicle registration, license plate authentication, access control, asset tracking, brand protection, parking, and fast visitor processing and special service offering at large scale venues, sports stadiums or entertainment parks.
Matthias Poppel, general manager, secure mobility and retail at NXP, says that UCODE DNA will transform the RAIN RFID tag market and drive further adoption by making decisions on security versus read range a thing of the past.
“By combining cryptographic security with long read range, the possibilities for new markets, new use cases and new applications are enormous. It will be exciting to see this develop,” he says.
Impinj, which used the convention to promote the milestone of selling of its 10 billionth RFID chip, also introduced two new tags to the Monza family — the R6-P and the S6-C. The R6-P is an extension of the R6 chip that went into volume production last fall, primarily for apparel retailers. The R6-P adds new levels of privacy, brand protection and loss prevention. In Europe, many retailers kill the chip when an item is purchased for privacy reasons. However, doing so eliminates the use of the tag for returns and warranty issues. European retailers suggested a tag that turns from long-range mode to short-range (2-3 centimeters), which would allow the tag to be read if an item is returned in a store, yet still ensure privacy.
The Monza S6-C features a secure, one-way counter capability for use cases such as a three-day pass to an amusement park or monthly transportation passes. It is also ideal for consumables, such as printer cartridges.