Metal Skin: Getting Ahead of the Curve

This week Xerafy debuted the Metal SkinTM, the world’s first true UHF EPC RFID inlay designed for tracking metal assets.

Based on the Impinj Monza 4QT IC, Metal Skin is super thin, lightweight, and flexible enough to be used on the curved surface of metallic cylinders to the backside of an Apple iPad. It can be converted into different form factors such as smart tickets, labels and tags using standard label converting equipment and printing processes.

Xerafy Metal Skin LabelMetal Skin is a game changing innovation that transforms RFID for metal tracking and Xerafy’s customers who have a sneak peak to evaluate the product have been totally blown away by the inlay form factor  and unbelievable performance. The initialization of Metal Skin, as with any of our products, always start with our customers’ unmet needs and the compelling value proposition to create a cost effective, low-profile and flexible tag for tracking metallic items globally.  We wanted to create a “middle product”, ie between an inlay and a metal tag, of what’s existing today, that could potentially be disposable and serve the mass market for tracking metal assets. Something that can easily fit into existing conversion processes with minor modifications and jump-start new markets to adopt RFID or incentivize the shift of early adopters to the majority.

I remembered vividly the summer of 2010, Drew Nathanson, Vice President, Auto ID at VDC Research, over the phone said, “We’ve just concluded a study and the market has indicated Consumer Electronics is looking to adopt RFID for Product Authentication at an accelerated scale within the next few years”. At that time, when the idea of a metal label came about within Xerafy, the Engineering team just laughed it off as it’s against the norm and the Science out there! However, the market requirement never went away and so the idea never really went awayas well. We kept challenging Engineering to relook and rethink this and around late last year, they finally had a break-though, discovering a new way around conventional RF design to disrupt the metal tag. We never looked back since.

With 6 patents pending, Metal Skin will undoubtedly open up a whole new floodgate of applications for our customers, converter partners and solution providers, enabling them to provide converted labels that can now be RFID-enabled for metals for product authentication, high-value asset tracking, laptop tracking and the global courier supply chain. Indeed, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

RFID Solutions on Display at Military Health System Conference

The 2012 Military Health System Conference held this week at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland was a chance to see the newest innovations and military thinking regarding RFID. Xerafy displayed RFID tag solutions for healthcare including the XS tag in the booth of partner Motorola Solutions and I was impressed by the direction that the military is taking regarding RFID.

All branches of the Department of Defense are increasingly looking for ways to make more effective use of the assets they already have. Where are these assets? What is their state of readiness? When do they need to be replaced? These are just some of the questions that the DoD is dealing with. And increasingly, a combination of a real time location system (RTLS) combined with passive RFID is thought to be answer.

A top level medical CIO for IT programs at the conference commented that one of his biggest problems was tracking medical equipment throughout a hospital. He estimated that staff spent as much as 20 percent of their day looking for equipment and medicine.

With the need to not only track assets but also determine when those assets need to be replaced, reordered, or discarded (especially important for medicine) combining active and passive RFID to accurately track and locate these assets within a hospital will create an “intelligent” system that allows staff to maximize efficiencies and reduce down time.

The same RFID tag that will let the hospital staff know the location of equipment can also be a pointer to a database that has all the relevant information regarding the items state-of-readiness. It’s extremely easy to mistake a piece of equipment that has been properly maintained, cleaned, charged, and calibrated with one that has not. 

This year's MHS conference attracted over 3,000 attendees and I saw many exciting solutions on display. I look forward to the implementation of RFID in the military health system and expect that next year’s conference will be even bigger for the industry. I also want to say thanks to our friends at Motorola Solutions for showcasing our tag solutions.