Merry Christmas to one and all!

We're taking a bit of a break to be with our loved ones over the holiday, and we hope you are too. A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, and we'd like to pass along a heartfelt "Thank You" for your readership. We'll be back posting again tomorrow once we can burn off some of the egg nog!

Nike+iPod kit may have RFID flaw

The next time you spot someone jogging when Nike shoes and white earbuds hanging from their ears, you may want to chant a warning to that person -- if in fact they are using the newer RFID-enabled Nike / iPod Sport Kit.

This new product lets runners monitor their efforts with short-range radio transmissions (of course) that should be limited to a small sphere around the person only. Of course, RFID hackers are not ones to sit lightly, as researchers from the University of Washington think that a security flaw in the Sport Kit could let stalkers also monitor runners. On no!

If mentally-disturbed stalkers are so inclined to extreme nerdiness like this, then the Nike / iPod sport kit could be mapping someone's regimen all over the place.

RFID tagging coming to hotel guests in Ohio

RFID wristbands are coming to an Ohio lodge, as a way to provide guest convenience and service. Sounds harmless enough, yes? The north woods-themed family resort in Ohio has not opened yet, but when it does, the lodge will be using RFID-enabled wristbands for identification and point-of-sale purchases and the wristbands will provide guests with hotel room keyless entry, cashless payment options and much more.

The Great Wolf Lodge at Paramount's Kings Island in Mason, Ohio -- scheduled to open on December 14 -- will feature all-new RFID wristband technology since it features many amenities like an indoor water part and multiple exercise rooms plus bars and cashless eateries . Just flick out your wrist and bam -- there you go.

Will RFID affect certain jobs?

Will the prevalence of RFID technology affect certain types of jobs? Sure it will -- just like any disruptive new technology like robot-assisted carmaking to cheap computing power. A new study is looking at almost every corner of the globe amid the growing popularity of RFID technology in everything from national security to retail to warehouse logistics.

The new report considers the effect of RFID into seven sections:

1. Retail trade: Characteristics, trends and prospects
2. Retail trade: Regional overview
3. Technology and supply chain management
4. Radio frequency identification
5. RFID and commerce
6. Social and labor implications
7. Social dialogue

The report states that while some jobs may be lost as RFID infiltrates certain industries, workers can be retrained for other positions. Sounds like a broken record to me, but it is what it is.

RFID-based system to battle counterfeit drugs in the pharmaceutical supply chain

Counterfeit drugs are the dirty little secret in the pharmaceutical industry, and the continued and (unfortunately) growing distribution of them not only hurts the industry as a whole, but can certainly harm unsuspecting patients who need what they think are the right drugs to help them fight off disease.

In an attempt to keep counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain, IBM and AmerisourceBergen have launched a tracking program that leverages RFID technology. According to the companies, the new system will seal the supply chain and keep counterfeiters out who would normally find gaps iin order to place their lower-standard drugs into the process.

Will this be enough? Probably not, but this is the type of application that RFID is well-suited for--tracking of materials in a supply chain. The key is to make sure the people running the process are fully aware of how the system should work, and where to look if any discrepancies should occur.

TWR's Top 5

As we put the cap on another busy week here at The Wireless Report, we ask that you take a glance at our Top 5 stories from the past seven days before we shelve them and get ready for another week of wireless news and information. Enjoy!

  1. Have vehicle, surf web
    Many folks like me can't get enough of the web. We surf the web at home, at work, at the airport, on vacation, and on and on. But there is still one place where most of us haven't tried to surf the web yet--until now.
  2. Astrology dictates mobile phone love usage
    I wonder if the global wireless providers look at subscriber birthdates and group customers into astrological signs in order to predict revenue levels? They should, according to Virgin Mobile UK, which recently conducted some research which it claims is rather revealing in the way in which your astrological sign impacts upon the way you use your mobile phones.
  3. What's on your wireless holiday shopping list?
    As I'm sure you are quite aware, the holiday season is just around the corner. (In my family, I think it started the day after Halloween.)
  4. Can RFID e-Passports be hacked?
    With newer international passports being enabled with RFID technology, can these systems be hacked and compromised easily? There are some that say any electronic representation that communications beyond its own chips can be hacked given enough patience and persistence. When it comes to electronic passports, though, that is a scary potential situation.
  5. Despite growth of smartphones, many of us still carry more than one wireless device
    Despite the proliferation of smartphones and other wireless devices that can do it all--telephone, e-mail, web browser, camera, text messaging, streaming video, downloading of music, and so on--it seems that many of us have more than one device to perform one or more of these applications.

Can RFID e-Passports be hacked?

With newer international passports being enabled with RFID technology, can these systems be hacked and compromised easily? There are some that say any electronic representation that communications beyond its own chips can be hacked given enough patience and persistence. When it comes to electronic passports, though, that is a scary potential situation.

When a recent engineer actually detonated an explosion remotely using a newer e-Passport in a demonstration of dangers the U.S. will soon face with newer passport systems, this set off alarms on how to more secure possible threats from newer e-Passports, which have been criticized for not being secure enough to thwart issues from being read by outside devices.

Checkpoint's RFID systems are floundering

Looks like the tracking and theft prevention of clothes and shows using RFID technology is not off to any kind of a good start, as Checkpoint Systems is not selling many of its RFID solutions for this scenario.

Checkpoint has "scaled back its RFID efforts and laid off members of its RFID team" according to officials and "will no longer sell complete library inventory-management systems or RFID readers".

Checkpoint, which was trying to install RFID chips in show soles to the chagrin of provacy advocates and normal people everywhere, reported a deline decline in second-quarter revenue recently.

RFID technology comes to ... badgers

Animal studies and movement habitat studies sometimes are hard to perform due to keeping specific track of the animals as they go about their daily business. But, what is researchers were able to tag animals like badgers with RFID tags so that they could precisely know what was going on? Consider it done.

Although radio technology has been used to track animal movements for decades, RFID technology will now be used by animal habitat researchers to monitor the movement and behavior of badgers with an unprecedented level of control by using RFID tags on the animals themselves along with strategically-placed RFID sensors.

Talk about a mountain of data! As it happens, "we do need some stinkin' badgers!"

Optag RFID to track in-airport passengers

Want to be tracked from luggage check all the way to the airplane door -- using RFID? That kind of tracking may be coming soon to airports across the pond from the U.S., as passengers will be issued an RFID token of sorts so that they can all be monitored as they make their ways through the terminal and snack bars, or high-end lounges and bars as well.

This technology is a little different from standard RFID. This new "Optag" RFID system has a range of 10 to 20 meters (instead of mere centimeters) that can be used to track moving objects. The perfect place for this is obviously an airport or even a retail environment I would think.

Optag has been designed to improve airport security by virtue of its ability to track the movement of suspicious passengers, which would enable security personnel to bar them from entering restricted areas, and in addition, it has the ability to locate individuals quickly that would aid airports in an evacuation situation.

Wal-Mart's shopper tracking experiment should go RFID

Just when you thought it was safe to stroll down those retail aisles. If you unlucky these days -- and in a Wal-Mart store -- you might just be able to participate in what I call a seemingly undercover plot (just like a movie!) to determine how you stroll past aisles and which items you buy and don't buy. Wal-Mart wants to know why you're not buying those items you just glance at but don't put into your buggy.

The RFID experiment is being rolled out to see how to make in-store promotions more effective (get the fishing hook more in the customer's mouth) but trying to determine why customers may look at but not purchase certain items. While the system uses infrared beams right now, I'm surprised the chain is not using RFID tags on carts for more accurate detail on shopper movements.

Tom Ridge says RFID can be effectively used to secure nation's borders and ports of entry

According to Tom Ridge, the former security of homeland security, RFID technology will be used with greater frequency as a means to provide increased security for this country's borders.

Ridge went on to say that despite the lingering controversy over how information gathered from RFID tags may be used by retail outlets and government agenices in monitoring user behavior, RFID can be effective in tracking containers and other goods being brought into the country through shipyards and other ports of entry.

Of course, Ridge intimated that controls must be put in place so that the technology will not be abused by those leveraging it and will protect an individual's privacy.

VeriChip RFID solution being used in Florida and Hawaii

VeriChip's VeriTrace RFID solution is now being used in Florida by the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System and also in Hawaii by the Department of Health. In times of needing to be able and track accident and disaster victims, the VeriTrace solution looks to be a fairly sophisticated system -- but one that is needed in some unfortunate situations.

The VeriTrace system was used to help assist in identifying and tracking bodies of victims after Hurricane Katrina. While most of us don't want to think of such a thing, logistics in this type of disaster situation are of the utmost importance -- for the respect of lost human lives as well as the prevention of disease and other maladies that can occur.

The VeriTrace system consists of RFID chips/tags, a Bluetooth-based wireless handheld reader, RFID and GPS-enabled digital still cameras and a web-enabled database for data and image collection.

Motorola serious about Symbol?

Motorola reportedly looks to be in hot pursuit of buying logistics and RF company Symbol. With Motorola having been quite aggressive lately in pursuing RFID technology and chasing mobile and enterprise consumer markets, it makes sense for the company to look at a company with this kind of product and service portfolio, yes?

Symbol Technologies is a leader here in the retail and consumer space, and a deal between the company and Motorola could fetch as much as $3.8 billion if Symbol's asking price reaches $15 per share. Symbol, which consumers are pretty familiar with (although they don't know it) is a leader in the consumer retail arena for barcode scanners and has recently moved into the RFID arena as more retailers embrace that new technology.

RFID Secure Sleeves coming to passports, we hope

With U.S.-based passports soon to all contain RFID chips, it's quite a privacy concern to have an RF-capable chip with sensitive personal information stored on it just sitting and waiting for an RFID reader to come along and strike up a conversation. As such, the Secure Sleeve will be used to prevent unauthorized reading of RFID chips in passports and other personal documents.

There are already many choices for blocking RFID signals from passports and wallets, and even RFID-blocking wallets made for this very purpose. Since official documentation generally does not go into wallets, it's good to see a "sleeve" of sorts meant to block RFID from all kinds of paper documents. Or, for that matter, anything and everything that may contain an RFID chip.

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