More Vendors Combine Sensors and RFID

RFID tags and sensing devices are being used together for synergistic effect, and vendors are increasingly vying to win the surge with new offerings. In addition to Sensitech (www.sensitech.com) and Savi Technology (www.savi.com), mentioned in the recent article "Active RFID is Redefining Wireless Infrastructure" (Wireless Sensors Q2 2005), Bulldog Technologies Inc. (www.bulldog-tech.com) has joined the fray. Bulldog, provider of wireless sensor network applications, announced a release schedule for three RFID and sensor network product lines, and says this will make its product offering the most complete available for supply chain management.

First, the company will deploy in field trials over the coming months a short-range semi-active RFID tag that works with Bulldog's proprietary reader infrastructure. Second-phase tags and readers will support emerging EPC standards and thus enable interoperability with other vendors' infrastructures. The third phase will add long-range active ZigBee RFID/sensor monitoring tags.

Along similar lines, Wavetrend (www.wavetrend.net), a UK-based supplier of active ultra-long-range (ULR) RFID technology systems, says it has set itself apart from other suppliers by integrating sensors in order to extend beyond traditional asset locating functions of RFID tags.

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Now the company plans to extend its presence by entering a new deal with RedPrairie (www.redprairie.com), a global vendor of supply chain technology solutions that promise business process transformation. RedPrairie will become a VAR for Wavetrend's active RFID and data collection middleware technology, and will integrate Wavetrend tag and reader systems to enhance its offerings for transportation and yard management, labor management, supply chain security and mobile asset management. The combined applications promise to help customers accurately identify, manage, and track physical assets, information, and personnel.

According to Richard Clifford of independent market analyst company Datamonitor (www.datamonitor.com), "2005 looks like it will be the year that we begin to see substantial RFID adoption for the first time." A new study that he and colleague Miriam Morath have just concluded, "Global Manufacturing Outlook and IT Investment Insight—a Datamonitor Technology Decision-maker Panel project," surveyed C-Level executives, CIOs, and IT and line-of-business managers in 150 of the top 300 global manufacturers, to investigate current issues and IT opportunities in North America and European manufacturing. It reveals that 60% of manufacturers have an RFID project under way. "End-user understanding of the key issues is solid, and intent to invest in RFID is apparent," say Clifford and Morath.

Despite the fact that RFID technology is yet immature and projects have tended to be pilots or limited implementations, manufacturers are thinking ahead. They are aware that data synchronization and integration are crucial for maximum benefit, which is why initiatives such as the UCC's (www.uccnet.org) Global Data Sync have seen increased momentum.

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