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RFID News Roundup

Embisphere unveils multipurpose UHF RFID reader for retailers ••• GAO RFID launches new family of on-metal RFID tags ••• ON Semiconductor, RFMicron intro RFID sensor platform for IoT applications ••• Nordic ID launches new fixed UHF RFID reader, antennas ••• NXP unveils NFC RFID chips for next-gen applications ••• Ams, STMicroelectronics co-develop solution for secure NFC transactions.
By Beth Bacheldor

Ams, STMicroelectronics Co-develop Solution for Secure NFC Transactions

Ams, a provider of sensors and analog ICs, and global semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics (ST) have announced that ARM is using the companies' Near Field Communication (NFC) solution to provide secure, high-performance NFC and microcontroller functionality in ARM's new wearable reference design.

The NFC solution, developed jointly by ST and ams, comprises STMicroelectronics' ST54E, a system-in-package featuring an NFC controller (NFCC) and a secure element compliant with the GlobalPlatform standard v2.2, as well as ams' AS39230 NFC analog front end with boostedNFC technology. This NFC system is particularly well suited to very small, battery-powered products, the two companies indicate, such as wearable devices and smartphones.

According to ams and ST, the ams boostedNFC technology overcomes the difficulties that conventional NFC devices face when attempting to operate via a tiny antenna in an environment hostile to RF transmissions, and the ams/ST solution exceeds the EMVCo requirements for RF performance in contactless payments, even when operating through an antenna smaller than 100 square millimeters (0.16 square inch). The ST SiP provides support for critical NFC security standards worldwide, the companies report, ensuring that the ARM mbed Wearable Reference Design can support secure transaction types required in Internet of Things (IoT) applications, including, but not limited to, contactless payments, automatic fare collection and access control. Moreover, the joint solution is designed to achieve very low average power consumption, which can extend battery run-time between charges.

The mbed Wearable Reference Design provides a model that wearable device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can replicate to achieve high-performance NFC card emulation. According to ams and ST, it is easy for system designers to work with, since it is supplied with a complete NFC software stack developed by ST. This stack is compatible with ARM's mbed IoT Device Platform.

In addition, according to the companies, the RF performance of the ams/ST solution ensures robust NFC functioning, even in the most demanding operating environments. The NFC system draws on the unique capabilities of the ams AS39230, the companies say, which implements active load modulation, boosting the NFC front end's transmission signal, which can be comparable to or exceeding that of a contactless card that will typically have an antenna that is some 40 times larger.

The ST54E is approved for use as an NFC device in card emulation, peer-to-peer and tag reader modes in compliance with the NFC Forum's standards. It is also suitable for use in applications requiring worldwide certification, including for Common Criteria, EMVCo, and GlobalPlatform, as well as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and the People's Bank of China (PBoC). In addition, the security capabilities of the mbed Wearable Reference Design are enhanced by a separate fingerprint reader, which uses an STM32F411 Dynamic Efficient microcontroller from ST, based on the ARM Cortex-M4 core, to perform fingerprint image processing and matching.

IDTronic Announces I-PICK Handheld UHF Reader

IDTronic has announced I-PICK, a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) handheld RFID reader compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6B/C standards. The I-PICK provides full mobility for long-range UHF tags, the company reports, and is suitable for warehouse, library, retail and asset-tracking applications.

The I-PICK handheld reader
The I-PICK has an integrated Bluetooth interface enabling it to connect to a PC, PDA or mobile device running the Android or Microsoft Windows Mobile, Win CE5.0 and Windows (starting with XP) operating systems. The handheld can be configured for single reads or for multiple reads in inventory mode. The device has vibration, buzzer and LED status indicators, and all collected data is forwarded to a host PC or PDA in real time. It features a light polymer battery designed to provide long stand-by times and maximum mobility, the company says. The new reader measures 180 millimeters by 55 millimeters by 30 millimeters (7.1 inches by 2.2 inches by 1.2 inches) and weighs 250 grams (8.8 ounces).

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