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ThingMagic, a leading developer of RFID technology, has developed an RFID-based solution to track tools on vehicles. Tool Link from DeWalt uses UHF RFID technology to tell you what’s in your truck and what isn’t. ThingMagic worked closely with Ford Motor Company and DeWalt to develop the system.

You attach the included RFID tags to any tools or equipment you want to track. Place the tools in the truck or van and use the Tool Link system to scan them. The system identifies each tag, and you can type in the name of the item. Once the inventory is complete, the system can track the items you tagged whenever they are in the truck, and alert you if they are missing.

The in-dash computer runs Windows CE 6.0 with Microsoft Auto – just like Ford Sync. Ford and Sprint offer a Sprint EVDO connection at $49.99/month for unlimited data and $25/month for 25Mb of data.

ThingMagic says the primary challenges in designing the system was to understand the performance of RFID tags on tools and develop innovative methods to increase read rates, creating a custom M5e-based module capable of being powered by a vehicle battery, and ruggedized to survive and perform in the environments where Ford vehicles serve their customers.

Today ThingMagic announced their Vega RFID reader and Development Kit. Designed around ThingMagic’s UHF RFID Mercury5e embedded reader module, the ThingMagic Vega IVR (In Vehicle Reader) features a rugged enclosure and low power consumption designed for a wide variety of in-transit solutions that require a durable RFID reader, says the company. The Vega IVR costs $695, with Vega Reader Development Kits available for $1,495.

In (un)related GPS tracking news, SPOT, a wholly owned subsidiary of satellite phone provider Globalstar, today introduced a new SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger device that’s 30% smaller and lighter than the original personal tracker.

The $179 device offers additional custom messaging modes. It sends short GPS-embedded messages via satellite using a $99/yr service plan.

For an extra $50, you can also add a track function that includes a customized web page using Google Maps (see: Spot Adventures).

SPOTadventures.com lets you share tracks, stories, photos and real-time updates of your adventures with friends. Through the Live Map feed, the company says it is the only social portal that lets you easily share your real time location from virtually anywhere on the globe.

The company claims it has sent over 10 million peace-of-mind and track-me messages around the world and shipped some 120,000 units, which are mainly targeted to outdoor enthusiasts.

NavStar Technologies says that today only 10% of the 20M fleet vehicles in the US have Vehicle/Asset tracking devices. In countries outside the US the penetration rate is 5% to 8%.

Fleet Management Solutions combines GPS technology with two-way satellite communications, intelligent modems and its Web-hosted application, Fleet Central, to deliver all-satellite, mobile fleet management and GPS tracking systems.

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