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Smartrac Launches Circus PRO Label for Secure NFC Interactions

The new labels have been piloted by SneakerCon to provide encrypted authentication of high-value sneakers and to enable individuals to create both public and private access to data about a product, such as a collectible shoe.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 11, 2019

Smartrac has released its new Circus PRO and Circus PRO Flex Near Field Communication (NFC) tags that enable a secure and private transaction between a tag and a reader, while enabling users to create a one-to-one interaction with a brand or other parties to track a tagged item's history. The new PRO version of the Circus tag, Smartrac explains, enables users to access data via an encrypted NFC connection by tapping their mobile phone against the tag. A private or public record of their data related to that tagged item is then created.

The two new 13.56 MHz NFC tags, which are compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, are the first among what Smartrac says will be a series of PRO versions of its NFC and RFID inlays and tags. The NFC PRO versions employ NXP's NTAG 424 DNA IC. With the IC, the inlays' transmissions can be encrypted and provide secure authentication so that no one can intercept a link and gain the same experience to which an authorized user would have access.

Smartrac's Hal Hikita
Smartrac is a Dutch RFID inlay manufacturer. The company has been providing NFC-based products since NFC technology was first released, initially available with Android-based devices to read tags for brand authentication, as well as for a variety of other use cases. The company says it now finds, with the release of iOS-based devices that enable NFC use without an app, that NFC-based solutions are on the verge of widescale deployment.

"Across the board, the market has been waiting for the pivot point of the NFC market, and I think we are on the verge of what I would consider a perfect storm that could provide that uplift," says Hal Hikita, Smartrac's senior VP of product market development. The basic premise, he explains, is that NFC provides two key benefits—customer experience and product authentication—and the Circus PRO is aimed at both applications. The tags ensure that any attempt to read them will be captured and confirmed, and the response encrypted, while also enabling brands or retailers to create a digital experience in which a user could set up a history of the product and its use, linked to the NFC tag's unique ID number.

The Circus Pro leverages the NTAG 424 DNA features for security and privacy protection with its AES-128 advanced encryption standard. It can also provide a Secure Unique NFC (SUN) message feature, by which specific data would be provided only to a unique user based on the reader ID, thereby ensuring data could not be intercepted surreptitiously.

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