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Brazil's Von Braun Labs Brings New Secure UHF Chip, Solutions to U.S.

The new 2014B IC, designed for tolling applications, supports 128-bit encryption and, the company says, the ability to be read at highway speeds.
By Claire Swedberg
May 26, 2015

Brazilian RFID research and development company Von Braun Labs has begun marketing its products and services, including a new secure passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) chip, in the United States and other regions of the world. The company hopes that businesses will use its software platforms and the new chip, which is based on the EPC Gen2v2 standard, to provide a relatively low-cost, passive and secure EPC UHF-based vehicle ID tag, as well as a full solution.

Von Braun's new automatic vehicle identification (AVI) transponder chip, the 2014B, includes a security layer using AES 128-bit encryption. When incorporated in a windshield tag, it is designed to be read as vehicles pass through tollbooths or through free-flow portals at highway speeds. The AES encryption consists of a dynamic challenge-response protocol with each RF transmission, so that a tag ID number cannot be cloned and reused, and its transmitted or received data cannot be "sniffed" or disclosed.

Von Braun's new chip, the 2014B, is designed to be incorporated in windshield tags that can be read at highway speeds, while supporting 128-bit encryption.
The new AVI chip, containing 448 bits of non-volatile memory, is being used by one customer—a toll service provider in Brazil—but Von Braun Labs is now making it commercially available in the United States and other countries around the world. Dario Sassi Thober, Von Braun Labs' CEO, says that since his company opened an office in San Jose, Calif., it has also been in discussions with three large RFID technology providers that might use the chip for automotive ID labels.

In 2012, Von Braun Labs developed another passive chip for a specific customer, to address a national program known as Brasil-ID. This older 1-kilobit chip can be used for tracking containers or other objects, as well as for use in ID badges worn by individuals to identify their movements around an area in which RFID readers are deployed. The older chip employs the same AES encryption technology, but is designed to read and encode tags in pallet-like grouping applications.

Von Braun Labs is partnering with Malaysian silicon chip foundry SilTerra, which will manufacture integrated circuits based on Von Braun Labs' design. Tolling service providers and systems integrators that develop RFID-based solutions will not buy the 2014B chip directly from Van Braun Labs, but rather would purchase the chips or other essential parts of the label from SilTerra, or from other foundries and manufacturers.

"Usually, a semiconductor company operation represents a step further in the chain, with the foundry acting as a contractor," Thober says. "From the standpoint of service providers or operators, it represents a kind of short-cut to lower costs." He adds that Von Braun Labs offers a whole solution "with the aid of our partners and our own systems integration."

The company has other industrial partners as well, Thober says, such as Xiamen Innov Information Technology Co., which provides software integration and full solutions in partnership with Von Braun Labs. It also works with CISC Semiconductor, an Austrian company that provides its products and engineering services for designing RFID products sold by Von Braun Labs. Finally, IRIS Trusted Certification, a Malaysian systems integrator and solution provider, is working with Von Braun Labs on solutions in that country.

Thober believes it would be cheaper for a company to buy the new 2014B chip directly from a foundry, rather than from a semiconductor firm. Von Braun Labs is also capable of making finished RFID labels with the 2014B chip at a competitive price. To do so, the company partners with inlay providers that can supply these products and all other systems required for AVI operations.

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