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  • Editing Team 00:05 on December 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , low-cost,   

    Qualcomm Released Cheap, Battery-Efficient, Ultra-low NFC Chip 

    Qualcomm-QCA1990-NFC-chip-rfid-blogNFC might be all the rage at the checkout counter, but there are still plenty of devices without the technology. Qualcomm subsidiary Qualcomm Atheros hopes to change that, announcing an ultra-low power NFC chip that might help OEMs cut costs.

    It is said that the QCA1990 has a footprint half size of contemporary chips and can support for antennas eight times smaller than today’s standards — offering manufacturers, by Qualcomm’s estimation, a large enough savings to make NFC integration viable for more devices.

    The hardware is built to work seamlessly with the Snapdragon S4, too, and features special polling algorithms designed to minimize battery drain.

    There’s no guarantee the chip will make its way into Cupertino’s next handset, but Qualcomm seems optimistic about its place in the market.

    “Qualcomm intends to be at the forefront of delivering simple, easy-to-use solutions to OEM partners,” states vice president of product management David Favreau, “By enabling client devices, Qualcomm Atheros is paving the way for rapid adoption of products that incorporate NFC technology.”

    Manufacturer samples ship out early next year, and the final chip should be in consumer devices by Q3.

  • Editing Team 08:33 on October 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Why Should Retailers Adopt RFID? 

    retailer-tag-rfid-blogMany retailers may have a common concern: when it comes to RFID, am I ahead of, behind or out of the game? Clearly, RFID adoption is on their minds.

    In order to be competitive in the marketplace, retailers must have high inventory accuracy. According to studies from Auburn University and the University of Arkansas, RFID can improve inventory accuracy from an industry average of 60% or less to more than 95%. And if retailers can improve the inventory accuracy to 95%, many retail problems are solved or reduced — out-of-stocks go down, safety stock or unnecessary stock declines, and sales and/or margins improve.

    Now the answers to the retailers’ question are clear: If you have fully deployed RFID throughout your stores — tagging all items in all stores — you are ahead. If you have not started considering potential uses for RFID in your stores, you are behind.

    Over the past few years, there have been a significant number of retailers adopting RFID, particularly those in apparel (both specialty and department stores). Yet the number of retailers not deploying the technology is still large, too.

    However, the fact is that any retailer without RFID has an inventory accuracy problem. Many retailers know they have a problem but do not want to admit it, while others even fail to realize it — they look at existing data and assume all is well, yet in fact they are relying on bad information. There are still some retailers who realize they have a problem and spend lots of resources trying to correct it. They typically hire more workers to manually scan the barcodes on items, which is expensive and inefficient.

    To solve a problem, one needs to acknowledge the problem. Then good data is needed to fix the problem. Finally it comes to addressing the related cost concerns. Tracking items with RFID provides good data and is more cost-effective than increasing labor resources.

    In the near future, retailers will require RFID to be competitive. It’s time for all retailers to ask, “Am I using or planning to use RFID to improve inventory accuracy?” If the answer is no, it’s time to take steps to get into the game.

  • Editing Team 01:14 on October 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Using RFID to Reduce Energy Consumption in Data Center 

    reduce-data-center-energy-comsumption-rfid-blogThe New York Times once published an article titled “Power, Pollution and the Internet”, which said “Data centers (in the U.S.) used about 76 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010, or roughly 2% of all electricity was used in the country that year.”

    But it’s not the only problem. Many data centers are overcooled, since IT departments don’t want to risk infuriating customers by having servers overheat and go down. In fact, some estimates are that for every megawatt directed toward powering a data center, another 0.5 megawatt is consumed in maintaining proper temperature levels. And as it’s impossible to know the temperature at any one location within a room, most companies simply turn the air conditioning up high.

    Companies can choose to use environmental sensors which can track temperatures around server racks, but they cost much. On the other hand, wireless monitoring systems that leverage RFID and sensor technologies can be installed quickly and cost less. They can gather environmental information in real time.

    In 2008, California’s Franchise Tax Board, in Sacramento, deployed an RFID-based environmental-monitoring system. With the RFID system in place, the company saw cooling costs drop by nearly 75%.

    Microsoft has also installed over 700 RFID sensors to track temperatures on individual racks and shelves within its data centers around the world, enabling it to monitor the temperature or humidity levels around every rack of servers.

    In addition, Microsoft Research has developed software, allowing sensor data to be visualized on a map. The map displays the data center’s layout, highlighting any hot zones in real time. It also stores information that can be used for business analytics in the event that Microsoft chooses to evaluate the data center’s condition at a particular time in the past.

    In that way, when the temperature threshold is exceeded at any specific location, an alert will be given. The company uses this information to evaluate the conditions throughout the data center, and to adjust temperatures or fan speeds. What’s more, an overheated server can be powered down, or data can be redirected to a different server.

    All in all, companies can benefit a lot from RFID-based environmental-monitoring system, both in cutting energy costs and delivering a quick return on investment.

  • Editing Team 23:42 on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Ethylene Sensor Using RFID Tag to Let You Know When Fruit Is Ripe 

    ethylene-detecting-sensor-tag-fruit-ripe-rfid-blogUS researchers have built an ethylene detecting sensor, which reduces food waste in the supply chain, with the help of RFID tag.

    The sensor is embedded with an RFID chip, making it possible to communicate wireless with a handheld device that would display ethylene levels.

    The usual level required for fruit ripening is between 0.1 and 1 PPM, and the sensor can detect concentrations of ethylene as low as 0.5 PPM, making it suitable for warehouse use.

    The inventor of the patented device, Timothy Swager said, although some markets also used sensors, they cost more. Besides, a number of shipping businesses said the technology sometimes just didn’t work as well as advertised.

    “I started work in this field about 5 years ago heavily on ethylene methods but they weren’t sensitive enough so it was all about building it up. RFID tags were always part of the motivation.”

    “It will minimize spoilage and manage the distribution chain to ensure that food is not over ripe or under ripe.”

    As for the price, it could be as low as 25 cents for the carbon nanotube sensor plus 75 cents for the RFID chip, added Swager.

    “We hope to make it so inexpensive that there can be systems in every refrigerator to help the ethylene levels down or letting you know when the fruit is ripe.”

  • Editing Team 17:05 on August 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Newspaper-style Printing Technique Makes NFC Printing Cheaper 

    rectenna-printing-NFC-chips-cheaper-rfid-blogIf you follow the NFC trend, you may be probably aware that it is meant to be the next big thing. However, it’s still not commonplace for the time being. The main reason for its lack of adoption is all down to price, according to a group of Korean scientists. To solve this problem, they have developed a newspaper-style printing technique that will allow for the exchange of digital information at a cost of one penny per unit.

    The device is called a rectenna. It harnesses power from radio waves given off by a mobile phone, converting them from AC to DC, which allows the rectenna to transmit information to a mobile phone or other electronic device with a simple swipe.

    “What is great about this technique is that we can also print the digital information onto the rectenna, meaning that everything you need for wireless communication is in one place,” said co-author of the study, Gyoujin Cho, an engineer at Sunchon National University in Korea.

    As is known, NFC is already being used to perform some financial transactions. However, this low-cost printing technique could lead to the adoption of the technology on a wide scale.

    In the Nanotechnology study, the scientists were able to print rectennas using roll-to-roll presses at a rate of about 26 feet per minute. The process, also called rotogravure, uses an engraved cylinder and was once a staple in the newspaper industry.

    “Our advantage over current technology is lower cost, since we can produce a roll-to-roll printing process with high throughput in an environmentally friendly manner,” said Cho. “Furthermore, we can integrate many extra functions without huge extra cost in the printing process.”

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