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RFID News Roundup

Smartrac expands NFC portfolio for challenging applications ••• Arm acquires Stream Technologies, releases IoT device-management platform ••• Stanley Healthcare, Extronics forge multi-year partnership agreement ••• STMicroelectronics unveils IoT firmware-development tool ••• IoT software provider People Power achieves GDPR compliance ••• Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust deploys asset-tracking technology from Idox Health ••• Techstars, BHS announce mentorship-driven IoT accelerator for Europe.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 21, 2018

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Smartrac; Arm, Stream Technologies; Stanley Healthcare, Extronics; STMicroelectronics; People Power; Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Idox Health; Techstars, and BHS.

Smartrac Expands NFC Portfolio for Challenging Applications

Smartrac has announced that it is extending its portfolio of Near Field Communication (NFC) products. While its recently introduced Circus Flex and Circus Dura tags offer environmental resistance for brand and retail applications, the company's On-Metal products allow for efficient tagging of metal surfaces in industrial and automotive applications.

The Circus Flex uses a "glop top" seal that shields the IC and its connection to the antenna, and was designed in response to customer demand for highly protected flexible tags, according to the company. The Circus Dura, meanwhile, is intended for highly protected stiff tags. Stiffness and flexibility tend to be mutually exclusive, the firm explains, and with these stress-resistant inlays and tags, brands and retailers can choose which suits their needs.

Companies across a variety of industries, such as industrial and automotive, need to tag metallic parts, tools, machines, equipment or metal doors, and hence require flexible on-metal NFC inlays for wide-ranging surfaces. Smartrac thus offers ferrite-based NFC inlays that are flexible enough to suit roll-to-roll manufacturing processes.

The new, thin, ferrite-based inlays are produced by applying a layer of this material to an inlay, isolating the magnetic field from the metal surface. Because they offer greater flexibility compared to conventional ferrite-based NFC tags, Smartrac claims, the On-Metal NFC inlays and tags can be used on a wider range of metallic surfaces—concave, convex, roughened, rugged or grainy—and can be read by a mobile phone app or NFC reader. In addition, converters can overprint the inlays if required.

According to Smartrac, applications involving metal surfaces that need to be identified or interacted with include asset management, product authentication, grey market detection, warranty activation, planned service and maintenance instructions, spare parts ordering and feedback for product development. Additionally, consumer goods made from metal can now be NFC-enabled as well.

"By extending our NFC portfolio in response to the needs of our customers, such as brand owners and retailers as well as industrial and automotive clients, we are not only expanding Smartrac's position as the NFC technology and innovation leader," said Matti Tavilampi, Smartrac's director of RFID sensors and products for global product management, in a prepared statement. "We are also broadening our range of customer-oriented RFID-based Internet of Things solutions by leveraging our new products' capabilities."

The ferrite layer option will be made available across a range of Smartrac HF and NFC products, and will initially be offered for Circus and BullsEye antenna types equipped with NXP's NTAG213 IC. BullsEye On-Metal and Circus On-Metal are slated to be made available in July 2018, while Circus Flex and Circus Dura tags are available in large quantities now.

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