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RFID News Roundup
NXP acquires Jennic to extend lineup of ZigBee and other low-power RF solutions; Verayo unveils new unclonable RFID chip; WirelessHART becomes European standard for wireless communication in process automation; SK Telecom pushes advancement of mobile payments in Asia; Ramco Systems, IDBlue partner on RFID for aviation.
Jul 29, 2010—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
NXP Acquires Jennic to Extend Lineup of ZigBee and Other Low-Power RF Solutions
NXP Semiconductors has announced its acquisition of Jennic, a developer of chips and software for low-power 2.4 GHz active RFID tags, and wireless chips for applications in wireless sensor networks, smart energy, environment, logistics and consumer markets. NXP says it plans to integrate Jennic's portfolio of 802.15.4 and ZigBee low-power RF solutions, including software stacks for ZigBee PRO, 6LowPAN and RF4CE, into its product line. This, the company reports, will help create a comprehensive wireless semiconductor platform for emerging technologies, including e-metering, smart lighting, building automation, asset tracking and device remote controls. NXP paid approximately $12.2 million to acquire 100 percent ownership of Jennic's shares, plus up to $7.8 million in additional consideration over the next two years if Jennic meets certain performance targets. Approximately 50 U.K.-based employees will transfer to NXP, which is headquartered in the Netherlands. "Innovation in low power wireless RF technology is driving significant demand for exciting new applications and usage models across a broad range of industries," said Rick Clemmer, NXP's president and CEO, in a prepared statement. "The low power RF solutions for wireless applications which Jennic has developed have set a benchmark for driving down power performance."
Verayo Unveils New Unclonable RFID Chip
Verayo, a provider of security and authentication solutions, has launched a new passive RFID integrated circuit (IC) known as the Vera M1HW. The new chip complies with the ISO/IEC 14443-A standard and employs Verayo's patented Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) technology to enable tag-reader mutual authentication. PUF technology is designed to exploit the unique physical characteristics of the silicon and variations in the IC manufacturing process, to identify each silicon chip and determine its authenticity without requiring encryption keys or storage of those keys. The Vera M1HW also features 512 bits of read-write memory for applications to store, add or edit user data. The addition of the new chip, Verayo reports, broadens the scope of applications for PUF-based chips to a multitude of industries. These include contactless loyalty and payment cards, mass transit and event ticketing, consumer product anti-counterfeiting, and secure identification and access cards. Verayo claims that, similar to its M4H chip (see RFID News Roundup: Verayo Unveils Next-Generation Unclonable RFID Chip), the M1HW enables authentication at a low cost compared with alternatives, enabling security and authentication in applications for which cost has been a primary inhibitor. In 2008, Verayo introduced its first anti-cloning product, a 13.56 MHz RFID chip, as a security solution (see PUF Technology Catches Clones). "The Vera M1HW was an obvious evolution and addition to our new family of unclonable RFID ICs," said Anant Agrawal, Verayo's CEO, in a prepared statement. "The mutual authentication and read-write memory in the new IC will extend the benefits of PUF technology to new applications where data stored on the chip has to be securely accessed and changed." The Vera M1HW is available immediately. Verayo works with all leading RFID tag vendors to build tags for various applications. Its RFID ICs work with standard high-frequency (HF) RFID readers.
WirelessHART Becomes European Standard for Wireless Communication in Process Automation
The HART Communication Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit membership organization, has announced that the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has approved the WirelessHART specification as a European standard, known as EN 62591. Released in September 2007, WirelessHART is a wireless sensor networking (WSN) specification for process automation allowing battery-powered sensors to be deployed in previously hard-to-reach locations, while providing wire-like reliability. CEN, founded in 1961 and now consisting of 30 national members working together to develop European standards, released the standard to the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), a non-profit technical organization set up under Belgian law, the members of which are the national electrotechnical committees of 31 European countries. CENELEC approved the WirelessHART European Standard on June 1 of this year, just a few months after the International Electrotechnical Commission approved the WirelessHART specification as a full international standard in March. The IEC standard was approved by CENELEC as a European standard without any modifications. According to the HART Communication Foundation, a growing number of WirelessHART-compatible products are currently available from major global suppliers, including ABB, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, MACTek, Nivis, Phoenix Contact, Pepperl+Fuchs, Siemens and others.
SK Telecom Pushes Advancement of Mobile Payments in Asia
South Korean mobile telephony and communications provider SK Telecom reports that it is taking aim at the growing market for mobile payments in the Asia/Pacific region. To do so, it has been developing various mobile financial services that leverage RF-based technologies, such as an RFID universal subscriber identity module (USIM) for such applications as mobile-payment services. For instance, the firm has provided a range of mobile-payment services for more than 1 million subscribers of the Combi Card, a financial USIM card in South Korea. USIM is an application for mobile telephony running on a UICC smart card inserted in a 3G mobile phone; it stores user subscriber and authentication information, and provides storage space for text messages and phone book contacts. In another example, SK Telecom is providing services for "T cash," which was launched in January 2009. Currently, SK Telecom indicates, more than 1 million subscribers in South Korea are using "T cash" to pay for various types of public transports, such as trains and cabs. According to the company, "T cash" is now accepted at more than 40,000 affiliate stores and Web sites in South Korea—including 20,000 convenience stores and 100 different online sites, from games to shopping and social-networking services. The partnership with Hana Card (SK Telecom owns 49 percent of Hana Financial Group's credit-card unit) is enabling SK Telecom to participate in additional mobile-payment initiatives, including "T Smart Pay," an intelligent and integrated mobile-payment service launched in March that allows customers to make payment with a Hana SK card, receive discounts with downloadable mobile coupons and save membership points via the contactless mobile-payment process. SK Telecom indicates it also plans to advance its efforts in NFC-standard mobile payment. The provider recently announced a team-up with Japanese telecommunications provider KDDI and Japanese mobile communications company Softbank Mobile to develop a Near Field Communication (NFC) platform. Using the NFC standard, customers of the three companies will be able to offer mobile-payment services in both South Korea and Japan. SK Telecom has been involved in mobile-payment NFC initiatives for some time. Back in 2006, the firm teamed with NXP Semiconductors (then Philips Semiconductors) for a trial in Seoul, Korea, using NFC technology to download content, unlock doors and pay for goods and services (see Philips, SK Telecom to Test NFC in Seoul).
Ramco Systems, IDBlue Partner on RFID for Aviation
Ramco Systems—Global Aviation Solutions has teamed up with IDBlue, an RFID solutions and consulting firm, to provide end-to-end RFID solutions within the aerospace sector for the purpose of maintenance and repair operations (MRO), aircraft and component tracking, data identification, enhanced line maintenance and performance-based utilization. "Working with our Canadian branch in Ottawa, we identified IDBlue as an innovative company in Atlantic Canada with RFID solutions that add significant value in business benefits to Ramco's global clients," said Jim Fitzgerald, the president of Ramco's Global Aviation Solutions division, in a prepared statement. In another recent RFID initiative, IDBlue has been working with A. Harvey, a Canadian provider of marine and offshore oil and gas support services, to install an active real-time locating system (RTLS) to locate and track the movements of containers as they are stored and then moved onto and off of vessels destined for oil rigs in the northern Atlantic Ocean (see RFID Tracks Oil Co. Containers and Ships in Newfoundland).
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