We recently attended RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 in Orlando, Florida. While at the show, we interviewed leaders, systems manufacturers, and solutions providers in the RFID industry. In Part One of the Omni-ID interview, we spoke with Ed Nabrotzky, EVP Sales and Product Development.
The launch of Omni-ID’s revolutionary ProView system in 2012 hit the RFID industry by storm. A product and concept mostly new to the industry at that point, the ProView Visual Tagging system adds visual instructions to traveling assets. When we caught our first glimpse at the Omni-ID booth during RFID Journal LIVE 2013, we saw why this unique product was up for best in show. At this year’s show, we couldn’t help but wonder how Omni-ID would top last year’s product and demo.
Ed Nabrotzky, who gave us the booth tour last year, showed us that not only was Omni-ID able to top last year, but they were able to expand the ProView tag line-up.
Adding the V10 to the current portfolio gives customers more information and accessibility in a larger form factor. One of the Best In Show Finalists, the V10 is an RFID tag disguised as a tablet. Most of our customers usually look for the smallest RFID tag possible, but if your tag could display detailed instructions to employees, it could potentially replace the small tag as well clipboards and labels. With screen width comparable to a tablet, the V10 isn’t just a pretty face. Two to three weeks of battery life and real time visibility makes this tag irreplaceable in a factory or healthcare environment.
The V2, V3, and V4 have been given a few substantial upgrades from last year including operator-friendly membrane switch buttons. The buttons can be configured to signify line changes in a factory environment or emergency conditions depending on your application.
Omni-ID’s ProView software, Omni AT, is used to write/read the ProView tags and update the visual displays, but, and this is the most intriguing part, it can communicate with passive tags, battery-assisted passive tags, and active tags. The ProView software features other inventory, WiP, reporting tools as well.
Stepping deeper in the Omni ID booth, we come across a data center that looked pretty familiar. This data center, which was set up last year, shows us all the tags that can used on this metal structure. With clients like Hewlett-Packard and Cisco, Omni ID is a leader in data center tagging.
The Prox NG is a small tag with a large read range. This tag, like Ed says, is known for its consistency across the US and EU bands which differentiates it from others. While being able to perform across both frequencies, most dual band tags perform better on either the EU frequency or the US frequency. An RFID tag with this level of consistency as well as reliability will continue to dominate the market like the Prox NG has.
Heading into the oil and gas sector of the booth, we see the Pipe tag and Adept 400 adhered to a metal pipe. Like in our blog post 5 Ways to Attach RFID Tags, we briefly saw some of the ways that these strong tags can be adhered onto pipes. Epoxy, strap attachments, or welding are popular methods of attachment in applications that need a rugged tag and an equally rugged attachment method. Reading tags in a rugged environment calls for a rugged reader. The explosion proof tablet we visit next is the first of its kind. Using Omni’s software, this tablet can read active and passive tags and can be attached to a backpack for mobile usage.
Next in the booth, we run across an active tag that is all too familiar. Jovix’s Power 1 tag, built by Omni ID, is the first of its kind in the industry. This active tag has a temperature gauge inside and can withstand sledgehammer blows as well as feet of ice and snow. Adjusting the beacon rate, as well as sensing battery life are two key features that are brand new to active tags. One of the finalists’ for coolest demo, Omni ID shows how this tag can be smart and adapt even in extremely harsh environments.
Starting the third leg of the Omni-ID booth we start with the notorious Omni ID cabinet which is focused on the newer tags in their portfolio. Using their IQ labels as a printed business card, Omni ID is successfully getting their tags in consumer’s hands for them to test and use as contact information. The IQ tag line, as Ed said, is the fastest growing tag line that Omni ID has. With a thin card form factor, this tag has on-metal capability, and the ability to be printed on with an RFID printer.
The Fit line (Fit 200, Fit 210, Fit 400, and Fit 400P) are small ceramic tags that are used in hundreds of different applications to date. The Fit 200 is one of the smallest RFID tags on the UHF RFID market and we have seen it used in tool tracking, asset tracking, and inventory applications. Omni ID has partnered with two large companies to take the Fit tags to an entirely different level
The Motorola Radio knob is an example of two huge companies coming together to solve a problem. Motorola rents out thousands of radios per year for emergency responders, security, and service contractors which leaves them with a large problem. How can they keep track of their inventory? Motorola has a rental program with these radios where the customer can use them for days or months, and then send them back. Instead of constantly hand counting inventory, Motorola and Omni ID came up with the brilliant idea of adding the Fit tag series into the knobs on the radios. Using this method of RFID attachment, they can easily add RFID tags onto all of their existing radios saving time and money.
The Balluf smart bolt is another Fit product that was taken to the next level with the help of two large companies. Balluf, a sensor manufacturer, and Omni ID had the idea to place an Omni ID Fit tag into steel bolts. It is the same setup as the radio knob, but they use the bolt in a different way. When the bolt is used on engine blocks or machines, it keeps track of critical data for that machine. Data such as when the engine was last serviced, or any problems the engine is currently having. This bolt allows the piece of machinery to become a smart product and keep records of its services and problems.
The new member of the Exo family, the Exo 700, or ‘Weapons tag’ is a new product for Omni ID. Encased in a rugged shell, the Exo 700 is currently being used by the U.S. Marine Corp. Placing these tags on guns and gun kits, they are able to keep inventory of them as well as ‘kit’ single guns with bullets, scopes, or anything else the Marines might need. Even with such a small form factor, this on-metal tag gets an impressive 7 meters or read range. The best part about this tag is it’s the first ceramic tag with dual node frequency. Ed explains us that ceramic tags are difficult to convert to global tags, and if they are, they lose significant read range. This is the first tag of its kind to have a dual node so that the read range stays the same on both frequencies.
The next tag looks like the Max HD, feels like the Max HD, but it has a secret weapon. The Max BAP tag or the Power 50 tag is the Max HD tag with a coin cell battery inside. BAP or Battery Assisted Passive tags have been around for quite awhile but they are not as popular as Active and Passive. Adding this small battery to a Max HD increases the read range by over 2 times the normal Max HD tag which is incredible. With the read range of around 100 feet, the Power 50 tag’s battery has a pretty long life span of about 5 years.
Our inside scoop is up next! Just being released for RFID Journal LIVE, and not even fully launched yet, is the new 800P tag. This tag is an off metal tag that is printable, weatherproof, flexible and has a read range of around 8 meters. This tag was built by Omni ID to be used in Bangladesh for their Rickshaws! They are using these tags like license plates, to store rickshaws registration information and other key individual facts.
The last big product we see on our tour is the Omni ID Active Starter Kit. The Omni ID Power 400 Starter Kit is a revolutionary kit in the active tag market. This kit has everything a developer needs to start testing. It comes with an active tag or visual tag, Taglab software, a gateway system control, a Thingmagic USB reader, and all the cables that you need to get started. This is a one of kind starter kit for anyone who is looking to test an active or visual tag system in their application!