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RFID News Roundup
Alien Technology adds Low-Level Reader Protocol support to interrogators; Powercast announces RF-based chipset and RF energy-harvesting reference; Met Labs completes first round of medical-device RFID susceptibility testing; Libelium debuts new Wi-Fi sensors for Web-enabled servers, Apple, Android devices; New NFC Products, partnerships and services announced.
Libelium Debuts New Wi-Fi Sensors for Web-enabled Servers, iPhone, Android Devices
Libelium, a Spanish wireless sensor hardware provider, has launched a new Wi-Fi based module for its Waspmote sensor platform. Libelium's platform consists of various sensors, or Waspmotes, that include a ZigBee 2.4 GHz 802.15.4 radio transmitter and an antenna, enclosed in a PVC container. According to the company, the new radio module adds an extra layer of intelligence to the nodes, allowing them to send the collected data to Web servers. The Wi-Fi sensor nodes can also transmit data to nearby Apple iPhone or Android devices, the company reports, by creating direct links with them via existing Wi-Fi networks. Now, sensor nodes can connect directly to cloud servers via a standard protocol, such as HTTP, said David Gascón, Libelium's CTO, in a prepared statement. The new Wi-Fi sensors can also leverage the secure version of the standard Web protocol, HTTPS, which is designed to protect and ensure the privacy of the information sent. The Wi-Fi sensors can create TCP and UDP connections, enabling developers to design their own communication framework between the sensors and servers, according to the company. Libelium provides an open-source application programming interface (API), along with complete documentation with examples, in order to help developers easily start working with the platform. Demonstration applications for iPhone and Android are also available for free, enabling customers to test the new Wi-Fi sensor capabilities from any smartphone.
New NFC Products, Partnerships and Services Announced
A number of vendors have announced Near Field Communication services and products this week, just in time for the Mobile World Congress 2012 conference, held in Barcelona. Among the announcements:
• NXP Semiconductors has announced its PN547 Near Field Communication (NFC) radio controller with multi-application support, including full Mifare family compatibility (Classic 1K, Classic 4K, DESFire and Plus), as well as native reader device mode functionality for expanded NFC use cases, such as secure, mobile contactless point-of-sale (POS) applications and mobile ticketing. Designed for mobile network operators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the PN547 is available with multiple interfaces to secure elements. According to the company, it features a 50 percent smaller footprint, a longer battery life via a 50 percent reduction in power consumption, and twice the RF operating range. NXP also announced that it has designed an SWP-SIM secure element that incorporates SmartMX2 technology. The firm says it can now offer its multi-application security architecture in all form factors (embedded, microSD and SWP-SIM) to the entire mobile market, regardless of form-factor preference. The considerably higher security requirements of the SWP-SIM secure element will demand such advanced solutions because, relative to the traditional non-secure SIM, SWP-SIM becomes a tamper-resistant vault for sensitive data, essential for securely executing critical applications, such as mobile payments. Thus, the firm reports, NXP's latest mobile-transactions product provides security and enables trust between all parties within an ecosystem, while also protecting consumer data and paving the way for accelerated mobile transactions industry growth and deployment of NFC technology. NXP says it will work with the key SIM OS players to deliver this product into the market.
• Isis, a mobile-commerce joint venture created by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless (see Mobile Carriers Launch Venture to Aid Adoption of NFC in Phones), has announced that Chase, Capital One and Barclaycard have entered into agreements with Isis enabling their credit, debit and prepaid cards to be placed into the Isis Mobile Wallet. Starting in mid-2012, Isis reports, consumers will be able to load their eligible Chase, Capital One and Barclaycard cards into their Isis Mobile Wallet and shop at participating merchants. The Isis Mobile Wallet will initially launch in mid-2012, in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas, with a national rollout expected to follow.
• Visa has announced a new service that it says provides financial institutions and mobile network operators with a one-stop solution to securely download payment account information to smartphones enabled with NFC technology. The new service was developed in cooperation with Oberthur Technologies, a provider of software and platforms used to manage the provisioning and activation of payment accounts on cards and mobile devices. The service delivers Visa payWave, the company's contactless payment technology, and other payment applications "over the air" to a consumer's NFC-equipped smartphone, along with the secure credentials required to authenticate a consumer. For shoppers, the service will include support for Visa and non-Visa payments, as well as loyalty or mass-transit applications on their smartphone. In a prepared statement from research and consulting firm Ovum, Catherine Haslam, an Ovum analyst, said the announcement potentially fills a significant hole in the current payments ecosystem. "A major barrier for many operators is the need to build a relationship with one or several financial institutions in order to offer services," she explained. "Such negotiations are typically long and complicated and this would replace it with a simple contract with Visa." Visa's support for non-Visa payments, she added, indicates that the company recognizes ubiquity as being the key to success in mobile money systems. But Visa does face some challenges and competition from international financial hub systems, Haslam noted, such as the M-wallet and HomeSend services, offered by international carrier BICS. "A bigger barrier, at least in the short to medium term, is that the system relies on the NFC in the consumer device and POS, and that is a long way from critical mass." Visa has also announced that it will work with Vodafone to develop a Vodafone-branded payment service for Vodafone's consumer mobile wallet. The service will be enabled by Visa's payment network, product suite and brand, and will initially be launched in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom over the coming fiscal year. Other countries within Vodafone's global portfolio will follow. In addition to the Vodafone-branded stored value account inside the mobile wallet, Vodafone and Visa plan to work together to enable Visa Issuers for mobile payments globally.
• Inside Secure and Sunward Telecom have announced a new NFC upgrade solution that fits within a standard-size subscriber identity module (SIM) card. The two companies demonstrated the solution this week at Mobile World Congress 2012; the demo simulated a MasterCard PayPass payment transaction, illustrating how non-NFC mobile phones can be upgraded to perform payment and other transactions, simply by inserting a new SIM card. According to the two companies, the NFC SIM card product, developed by Sunward Telecom, uses core technology from Inside Secure, designed to reduce the effects of the metals and electrical noise typically found within mobile phones and other mobile devices. When inserted into a phone, the NFC SIM card can communicate with contactless readers compliant with the ISO 14443 and EMVCo standards at a distance of 4 centimeters (1.6 inches). Sunward Telecom expects to begin shipping the NFC SIM card products during the fourth quarter of this year.
• VeriFone Systems has announced its Paymedia Universal Acceptance Platform (UAP), a suite of services and software aimed at helping mobile network operators to manage mobile wallet acceptance at merchant systems. The platform is designed to ensure that mobile wallet transactions will be processed smoothly, VeriFone reports, and allows wallet providers to expand the variety of services and applications offered though their wallets. Paymedia UAP includes the Paymedia Network Services, Estate Management software, and VeriFone's NFC App Manager, built into all VeriFone NFC acceptance platforms. In addition, VeriFone adds, the Paymedia UAP platform provides open API common interface standards, to ensure that value-added wallet data not traditionally supported will flow seamlessly through merchant systems without disruption.
• SecureRF has announced Veridify, its authentication and anti-counterfeiting solution based on NFC technology that validates products through an easy-to-use smartphone application. Secure NFC tags enable consumers and commercial users to confirm an item's identity, and to optionally retrieve or collect additional data from Veridify's cloud-computing platform, using only a smartphone. The solution incorporates Public Key cryptographic methods, embedded in the NFC tag and in the smartphone application, to provide a full range of highly secure identification and authentication functions. Initial markets for the Veridify solution include pharmaceuticals, electronics, liquors and luxury fashion goods that are often the targets of counterfeiters, SecureRF reports. The Veridify application currently operates on the Android platform, and the company plans to port it to other systems as well, as vendors announce NFC-enabled models. According to SecureRF, consumers can launch the Veridify application, tap their phone to the Veridify logo on a product, and observe their screen as immediate and secure authentication is provided—assuming the product is genuine. If a product cannot be verified, the user is then notified via an appropriate message. Additional features employ wireless connectivity for retrieving product information or related offers from the Veridify cloud.
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