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  • Editing Team 18:10 on September 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    How to Transfer Data with NFC 

    transfer-data-NFC-rfid-blog

    Nowadays, NFC has almost become a standard configuration in most smartphones, yet users often get confused regarding its usage. NFC works by establishing a connection between the phone and another NFC device and transfers small amounts of data in seconds.

    This technology often works with NFC tags, coin-sized circuits that can interact with NFC-enabled devices, and can store bits of data (precisely up to 1KB of data). These tags can be programmed to perform specific action upon scanning.

    Let me take an example. I have an NFC tag on the bedside, scanning it with my phone turns off the phone’s Wi-Fi and puts the ringer to silent, which usually would take 15-20 seconds to carry out by hand. With an NFC tag, this takes just a second!

    NFC tags are readily available on the web and are usually cheap. The common type of NFC tags (Mifare classic 1K) is compatible with most smartphones, but some phones require slightly different type of tags so it’s wise to do the research before ordering. Before you use the tag, the first thing to do is to make sure that NFC is enabled on your phone, and look for the proper app to program those tags.

    For Android, one of the best apps for this purpose is ‘NFC Task Launcher’, and for Nokia Lumia phones that support NFC, the ‘Nokia NFC Writer’ app works the same way.

    In order to program a tag, open the app, create a new task, and add the actions that should be executed when the tag is scanned. The app will then prompt you to touch the NFC tag to the back of your phone. As soon as you do so, the information will be written to the tag, and it will be ‘programmed’. The next time you or someone else scans the tag, it will execute the programmed action on the corresponding phone.

    You might have heard of ‘Android Beam’ in some recent Android phones like the Galaxy S3. It’s a fast way of transferring links and other data to (and from) another phone, all thanks to NFC. Just touch both the phones back to back, confirm sending, and the data will be transferred. In case of small data (links, text, etc.), the communication and data transfer is carried out via NFC only. If large data such as photos or music is being sent, touching one phone to the other initiates a paired Bluetooth connection (it’s Wi-Fi in case of S-beam), and the file is transferred via Bluetooth afterwards. This saves the hassle of turning Bluetooth on manually, pairing both phones, and sending the file.

     
  • Editing Team 12:29 on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    NFC Helps to Find Your Lost Pet 

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    Seattle software startup PetHub makes software that aims to help reconnect lost pets with their owners. Recently the company has raised $1.7 million.

    Pet owners can buy PetHub’s NFC-enabled tags in 1,000 stores in the U.S. and 400 in Europe. Once you buy a tag, you can go online and set up a profile for your pet which includes the contact information, the pet’s medications and any other relevant details.

    Then, if a pet escapes, anyone who finds it can just tap the tag with his/her smartphone and connect with the owner. The owner’s personal information is not revealed, but the owner is alerted immediately of the pet’s location and can be connected to the person who found the pet via a call center.

    In addition to the NFC chip in the tag, there is also a QR code that can be scanned, a phone number to call and a website.

    “The minute someone accesses the pet’s profile, we know it and we alert the owner,” said Tom Arnold, founder and CEO of PetHub.

    The majority of PetHub’s customers are female and, after talking to many dog owners in dog parks, Arnold said he was told again and again that women hate having to put their personal phone number or address on a dog’s tag.

    “With our tags, your number is hidden and only the call center has access,” he said.

     
  • Editing Team 09:58 on July 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    How to Read and Write Data on Gen 2 RFID Tags? 

    Some Gen 2 RFID tags have 96 bits of EPC memory, which is just enough to hold an Electronic Product Code that serves as a unique identifier of the object to which the tag is affixed. Additional information about the tagged object can be associated with the EPC in an external database. Other tags have a user memory bank of 96, 128,256 or more bits of memory, so data can be stored on the tag.

    For example, a tag on a package of perishable goods can carry the product expiration date and batch number; a tag on a shipping container can include the mailing address of the recipient; a tag on an aircraft part or oil pipeline valve can store the asset’s maintenance history — each time the asset is inspected, a new piece of historic data is added to the tag’s user memory.

    By setting up user memory, you can effectively read and write data to a tag, but that could be challenging, so it is important to work with a software vendor or systems integrator that has experience managing the following issues.

    User memory is stored in 16-bit blocks, and you must decide what data to store in each block. Then, you need to configure the software that controls your reader — either middleware or an application embedded in the reader — so it knows which data to access depending on the application. How you “lay out” your data in user memory is critical because layout can affect performance. A reader must send commands to the tag to access user memory, a process that takes time and can lower read rates.

    Because user memory has limited storage capacity, it is also necessary to compress the data. The widely accepted ISO 15962 standard provides several compression methods, but each has trade-offs — among them, space versus performance. If an application must read all data elements simultaneously, you can compress the elements together, minimizing the number of bits required for storage. But the more data elements that must be read together, the slower the read rate. If an application needs to read only a few data elements at a time, a better option is to compress the elements in separate user memory blocks. This approach requires fewer commands, so it yields better performance, though it uses more memory overall.

    In a closed-loop application, you can use a proprietary format to encode data in user memory. But if you need to share the data with your business partners, you’ll have to use one of the standards designed for supply-chain applications: GS1’s Application Identifiers, for consumer supply chains; ANSI Data Identifiers, for the manufacturing industry; or Text Element Identifiers, for aerospace. Each provides dozens of commonly used descriptive data elements, such as expiration date, batch number, dimensions and weight, and defines standardized codes that identify each data element in user memory.

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  • Editing Team 15:55 on February 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    How to Use Samsung TecTiles? 

    In the previous article, we introduced how to use S Beam. This one will talk about how to use the Samsung TecTiles.

    With TecTiles, you can adjust settings on your phone depending on where you happen to be at the moment, with fewer taps.

    To use the TecTiles, first you need to purchase TecTile tags, which can be bought directly from Samsung’s website or other authorized sellers and cost $14.99 for a set of five NFC tags/chips. These tags store commands and limited data (they are not attached to devices, so don’t mistakenly stick it to your device). Besides, you also need to download the free Samsung TecTiles app from Google Play Store, to program the tags (store commands in them).

    Once you have both the tags and app ready, you can read from and write to the TecTile tags. To program and use a TecTile to do a certain task, follow the steps below:

    ■Ensure that NFC is turned ON.

    ■Launch the TecTile application. Select the “TecTile Type”.

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    ■Select the action you want to do and then tap “Next”.

    ■Follow the instruction and hold your phone over the TecTile (with your phone’s back facing the TecTile) until you have successfully written the tag. This reportedly takes just a matter of seconds.

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    ■To use the tag to execute the command on the device, just unlock your device and hold it over the TecTile tag.

    NOTE: TecTiles wouldn’t function when placed near metal bodies.

    You can set a tag to perform a specific function permanently. But be aware that it cannot be edited or re-written after that.

    You can put a TecTile on the light switch in your office to make sure your phone is on vibrate so you’ll not disturbed with a ringing phone while working. You can also use a tag in your car to turn on Bluetooth, turn off Wi-Fi and launch Slacker.

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    There are a lot more options out there. You can make lots of different types of tags like change phone settings, launch an app, set alarm, make a call, send an SMS, Facebook & Foursquare check-in, make a tweet, etc.

    S Beam and TecTiles are just two of NFC using cases. NFC can do a lot more. Just give it a try and you’ll love it!

     
  • Editing Team 11:17 on February 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Marks & Spencer Expands RFID Program 

    Marks-and-Spencer-RFID-blogMarks & Spencer, leading UK-based apparel and food retailer, has expanded its 9-year RFID supply partnership with Avery Dennison, to enhance customer experience by ensuring the correct product is available in-store and online. The rollout will take place throughout all departments in 2013 and will be complete by spring of 2014.

    Marks & Spencer and Avery Dennison have worked together for RFID partnership since 2003, to create specific RFID tags. The tags supplied by Avery Dennison can be read when an RFID scanner is up to a meter away, making the inventory tracking process faster and more efficient.

    Traditionally, M&S’ workers have to use a scanner to scan a maximum of 400 to 600 items per hour. Now with the RFID system in place, merchandise can be accurately scanned at up to 15,000 items per hour. M&S can replenish stock from the distribution center more quickly and accurately, such as making more garment sizes available to more customers.

    In the future, M&S plans to expand the use of RFID scanning throughout the supply chain to increase accuracy and speed of distribution.

    “As one of the U.K.’s biggest retailers, M&S is focused on providing exceptional customer experience and RFID enables that experience by ensuring inventory accuracy from the distribution center to the store floor, providing shoppers with consistent and accurate product availability in-store and online.” says Shawn Neville, president of Avery Dennison.

     
  • Editing Team 17:59 on January 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Mario Kart Comes to Real Life! Thanks to RFID Technology 

    real-life-Mario-Kart-game-rfid-blogMario Kart has always been one of the best Nintendo 64 games of all time. Austin-based Waterloo Labs have decided to outfit race karts with RFID tags so you can play Mario Kart in real life.

    The race karts run on an RFID Wi-Fi system that helps each player communicate with new items picked up and their usage over the air. During the race course, players could pick up power-up boxes suspended over the track and receive a randomized item. The karts can read which item was picked up with RFID, and gives each kart a new ability to use any time the player desires.

    When the players use their selected item, the race karts can recognize the actions of each power-up, such as accelerating the kart to 100 percent of its throttle power when a mushroom is used, spinning other karts and slowing their motors when they run into a banana, or temporarily induce brakes on all players at the use of a lightning bolt.

    Besides, players can also physically launch attack items (such as green and red turtle shells) by stuffing the power-ups inside a cannon which is attached to their vehicles. Who knew Mario Kart would make such a complicated read-life game? All the details, including the source code, are discussed at the Waterloo website, meaning you can build your own if you want. It’s possible that in the near future we can see it in a nearby amusement park, thanks to RFID technology.

     
  • Editing Team 16:23 on January 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Disney Introduces MyMagic+ RFID Bracelets to Enhance Visitor Experience 

    Disney-MyMagic+-bracelet-enhance-visitor-experience-rfid-blogThe Walt Disney Company has announced the MyMagic+ program, an RFID-enabled system that lets visitors interact with (and pay for) nearly anything in the Disney village. The program will roll out this spring.

    The system combines an interactive website and mobile app with an all-purpose electronic bracelet that acts as a guest’s room key, theme-park ticket and payment account. The bracelet, which is called MagicBands, will also track which rides visitors use, which characters they interact with, where they go and what they buy within the park.

    The program will also transform Disney World into a more personalized, interactive experience, the company says. For instance, employees playing Disney characters will be able to greet children by name, using sensors that read information from their bracelets. The same holds true for the robotic characters, meaning a talking parrot or pirate could address your child by name.

    Privacy, of course, is a big question, and it’s especially relevant where so many children are concerned. But RFID technology is hardly new to the travel industry. The company said in its announcement that MyMagic+ is meant simply to enhance the visitor experience in a whole host of ways, including allowing guests to bypass long lines by signing up for rides before they leave their hotels.

     
  • Editing Team 00:30 on December 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Milanese Art Gallery Attracts Young People via RFID 

    Milan-Ambrosiana-Art-Gallery-NFC-RFID-blogThe Ambrosiana Art Gallery in Milan is one of the best Italian museums, possessing over 1,400 sketches, drawings and masterpieces created by Leonardo da Vinci as well as other renowned Italian artists. Traditionally, visitors looking to learn about the exhibits had to read small placards describing the work, or listen to audio players via a headset.

    However, since this October, the museum has deployed RFID technology and provided guests RFID-enabled smartphones to learn about each work of art. Guests can also utilize the smartphones to save a list of pieces they like, for use at the museum’s store when seeking prints for sale.

    NFC/RFID tags are attached to the gallery’s walls on which pieces of art are mounted, with an ID number on each tag linked to data regarding a particular item. The data is stored in the gallery’s back-end system. The museum has installed 55 passive 13.56 MHz tags for its main pieces of art, including those by da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Botticelli and Titian. In addition, Samsung donated its Galaxy S3 mobile phones to the museum for use in reading the tags.

    When a visitor holds the phone next to one of the 55 NFC tags, the phone reads its ID number, thereby triggering a display of data on the phone’s screen, including information about the artist, his life, how that work ended up at the gallery, techniques used to create it and pictures of the artist. This information can be presented in either Italian or English.

    In the future, the museum reports, visitors will be able to use their own NFC-enabled phones to read the tags and thereby access artwork-related information. Yet they must first download an application from the Samsung Apps Web site, though that app is not yet available.

    The system is intended to especially capture the interest of young people, who are less apt to frequent an art gallery. Since the tags were installed, “We noted young students get benefit and seem more interested in the art and the life of artists” when the information is presented to them via their phones.

     
  • Editing Team 09:32 on December 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    The RFID-enabled Scrabble Board Costs £20,000 

    Mind-Sports-Festival-Scrabble-board-rfid-blogMind Sports is the company behind the “world’s most advanced and expensive Scrabble system.” The company has spent 20,000 pounds ($30,000) to build a custom, RFID-enabled Scrabble board.

    The reason why it cost so much? That’s because there is an RFID tag on every tile and an RFID antenna on every square. The function of these RFID chips is to “read” what is happening on the board and transmit it over the internet for people all over the world to watch it on live.

    The technology allows scores to be calculated instantaneously. The RFID chips monitor the board almost continuously (every 974 milliseconds) and transmit the data via a specially developed software.

    There are 100 letter tiles with RFID tags, 225 RFID antennas (one for space on the 15×15 game board), nine circuit boards embedded under the game board, and seven sensors on every tile tray.

    This is all part of MSI’s Mind Sports Festival, where top Scrabble players from around the world will compete. The high-tech tweaks will make it the most spectator-friendly Scrabble competition ever. Live HD video streams will also be available online.

     
  • Editing Team 15:48 on October 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Argentina Vineyard Automates Grape-Picking Counting with NFC/RFID 

    Argentina-Bodega-Norton-winery-grape-venieyard-NFC-rfid-blogBodega Norton winery in Argentina has deployed a new system that uses NFC phones and RFID tags to track how many grapes each worker has harvested. This means the winery now can save a day every week in collating how much each worker has picked and how much they should be paid.

    With the old system, thousands of aluminum or plastic chips of different colors and shapes were used to signify the amount of grapes picked by each harvester, in order to work out how much they should be paid. These were then manually collated each week, which took an entire day to complete.

    “A harvester would collect an appropriate chip from a supervisor each time they picked a full bin of grapes and delivered it to a collection site,” the logistics solution provider HID Global explains. “The harvester would pocket the chip, then return to gather another bin full. At the end of a workweek, each harvester would present their chips to a manager, who would tally them and issue a voucher which would be exchanged for payment.

    Using the new system reduces much more work. With the new system in place, each of Bodega Norton’s 150 harvesters is issued with an armband equipped with an HID Global contactless card. Grape collection bins are tagged with RFID Epoxy Disc tags and vineyard supervisors are outfitted with NFC smartphones.

    The supervisors then read the harvester’s armband each time they deliver a full bin to a grape collection point, assuring both the worker and the supervisor that the collection bin has been counted and credited to the correct worker.

    “Hand picking is the only way to harvest grapes properly to ensure the best wine, and at Bodega Norton, if you cultivate the best people, they will help you produce the best wine,” says Pablo Minatelli, vineyard manager for Bodega Norton.

    “Due to the efficiencies of the new system, we pay better than other vineyards, and that means we attract the best harvesters… With the best people and reduced administrative time and expense, we get a better harvest and yield.”

     
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