VeriChip

A bunch of RFID company news has been piling up, so I decided to put it all in one post.

VeriChip has announced a new marketing web site.
The new site features animated tutorials, downloadable brochures and
online product registration (i.e., nothing earth shattering). Included
with the story is a brief description of the technology.

The RFID chips are implanted in a patient's arm, between the elbow and
shoulder. Each chip contains a 16-digit identification number that
provider organizations can map to their clinical databases. Clinicians
use customized, hand-held readers to scan the chips and access patient
data.

Time will tell whether this effort will swing the market from patient
worn tags to tags implanted (more or less permanently) in the patient's
body.

iHealthBeat reports
RFID tags gaining momentum despite privacy concerns. Trinitas Hospital
is the latest to sign with VeriChip to implant tags in patients.
VeriChip spokesman, John Procter, claims 20 additional hospitals will
sign by next hear. Patient participation is voluntary; no word on the
rate of patient participation. Also mentioned is Spyglass Consulting Group's recent report on RFID adoption:

[Ten percent] of the 100 health care organizations surveyed currently use RFID
tags to track equipment, and nearly half said they expect to implement
RFID technology in the next year. The report said that in the next 18
months, the RFID adoption will increase 128%.

The ACLU and EFF wring their hands about patient privacy, and Dr. William Braithwaite, senior vice president of the eHealth Initiative
points out that chips will be useless if all hospitals cannot afford
VeriChip's RFID scanning technology. It seems to me that implantable
tags face both the biggest patient acceptance barriers, and biggest
adoption barriers. Like fax machines of yore, a significant critical
mass will be needed to make any investment in chip readers and integration
with back end systems to reailze any patient safety or efficiency benefits. With so many patient worn tag solutions on the
market, alternative choices seem to be a greater challenge than that of limited
funds.

In more VeriChip news
they announce signing 4 more hospitals in August, brining the total up
to nine. Also noted is what seems to be a new tag line, "The First RFID
Company for People." Heh.

Speaking of choice, a new RFID company gets funding. ThingMagic Inc.(what
a name!), in Cambridge, MA, has raised $10 million in Series A funding.
Various
firms, including The Exxel Group, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Morningside
Technology Ventures Ltd., China; and Inventec Appliances Corp., Taiwan,
took part in the funding round. ThingMagic's "thing" is a software
defined RFID reader that will read any other vendor's (passive) tags.
The current distribution strategy seems to be providing OEM technology
and through resellers. There doesn't seem to be much near term
potential for health care traction where active tags are preferred.

Finally, RFID vendors form patent licensing consortium intended to hasten market adoption and lower costs.

The consortium's goal is to offer a structured approach for holders of
RFID patents to receive fair compensation for them so they can offer
reasonable prices to users. It will do so by managing patent licenses
for RFID chips, tags, labels and readers to release patent holders from
having to do so. Further, it plans to integrate complementary
technologies to reduce costs.

Vendors include Avery Dennison Corp., Alien Technology Corp., Applied Wireless
Identification Group Ltd., Moore Wallace, Symbol
Technologies Inc., ThingMagic Inc., Tyco Fire & Security, and Zebra Technologies
Corp.