IT Focus news briefs, Jan. 1, 2005

OASIS unveils new standard

Connected enterprises have a new protocol for sending and receiving business documents, now that the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) has ratified the first version of the Universal Business Language. UBL 1.0 provides a common method of handling purchase orders, invoices and other business documents over XML. UBL also offers certain data “components” that developers can use to build documents not covered by version 1.0. According to OASIS, UBL counts as the first standard implementation of the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification, a framework that defines how XML deals with electronic business data. According to Joanne Friedman, CEO of ConneKted Minds Inc., an IT advisory firm, UBL combined with ebXML is to the B2B space as HTML and HTTP are to the World Wide Web. “E-business didn’t die, it just (quietly) got smarter,” she said in an OASIS statement. For more information consult the UBL FAQ at

XINK makes a mark on RFID

Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology might be less of a nightmare for manufacturers in the offing, according to XINK Laboratories Inc. in Ottawa. The ink-making company late last year introduced its InstaCure ink formulations. Consisting of a solvent-free, high-conductive silver ink and a resistor ink, the InstaCure line lets companies print RFID antennas and electronic circuitry directly onto most paper and label stock, XINK said in a statement. According to Dr. Dan Tonchev, XINK’s chief scientist, InstaCure represents “a significant breakthrough” in RFID technology, thanks to its stock-agnostic ways. XINK said companies can apply InstaCure ink in a single pass on standard printing presses. It requires no heat curing, and works well for the growing RFID requirements among pharmaceutical and manufacturing firms. XINK originally developed InstaCure as a printing method for Information Mediary Corp.’s Intelligent and Active Packaging (IAP) apps, but decided to sell the product on its own. XINK shares space with Information Mediary in Ottawa.

NCR boosts wireless reliability

NCR Corp. says its latest Radio Frequency ID (RFID) products make wireless supply chains more reliable. The Dayton, Ohio-based company unveiled new RFID labels and accompanying technology late last year, offerings that are meant to help manufacturers meet retailer RFID mandates for pallet- and case-level labeling. NCR’s solution includes Class 0 or Class 1 labels, printers, printer software and a set of online services such as ordering, tracking and payment. The solution also offers thermal transfer ribbons designed to eliminate electrostatic discharge (ESD). Low-level ESDs can wreak havoc on electronic components — and even render some RFID technology inoperable. According to NCR, the product set provides reliability “approaching 100 per cent.” The company plans to release an expanded array of RFID labels in the coming months, a variety of sizes designed to fit specific manufacturing processes.

SGI visualizes Linux

Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) is bringing Linux to the visual computing space with a new system dubbed Prism. The graphics-rendering platform employs the open-source Linux operating system, Intel Corp. Itanium processors and ATI Technologies Inc.’s graphics accelerators to make visual computing less costly, according to SGI. The machine operates on SGI’s NUMAflex shared memory architecture, designed to blast through common interconnection bottlenecks and assign processing power where it’s needed most. SGI uses Transitive Corp.’s QuickTransit product to let users port existing SGI applications onto Prism, no source code or binary changes required. A statement from SGI says Prism also comes with OpenGL visualization software development tools, including OpenGL Performer, a programming interface for developing 3D apps, and OpenGL Volumizer, a graphics API for creating energy, manufacturing and medical apps. The Prism starts at US$30,000. For more information visit