RFID News Roundup

iDTRONIC releases new tags for harsh environments; BLE company BlueCats merges with UWB firm PLUS Location Systems; Avnet, Trusted Objects form strategic alliance for Industrial IoT; Senet, SimplyCity partner on LoRaWAN connectivity, IoT solutions for Australia; ABI Research predicts Bluetooth-powered IoT device shipments to exceed smartphones; PrecisionHawk, Skylogic Research release drone technology guide.
Published: September 19, 2019

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
BlueCats, PLUS Location Systems;
Avnet, Trusted Objects;
Senet, SimplyCity;
ABI Research;
PrecisionHawk, and Skylogic Research.

iDTRONIC Releases New Tags for Harsh Environments

iDTRONIC has announced that its new Heavy Duty RFID tags have been developed for use in harsh environments involving dust, water or fire, and can be customized to a client’s needs. The tags are built to withstand outdoor environments containing metals, chemicals, high temperatures or large amounts of water, the company reports. The ATEX-compatible tags are passive-oriented and provide a long lifecycle, according to iDTRONIC. Identification of the new tags can be accomplished using an RFID reader that supports EPCglobal’s Gen 2 ISO/IEC 18000-6C standard.

The tags contain an Impinj Monza X-8K Dura chip with 128 bits of memory. They are made of high-temperature ceramic filler and weigh 150 grams. The Armored RFID UHF tag comes with two pre-drilled holes and is mountable on any surface via M4 screws. Alternatively, the tag can be welded onto metal items such as returnable containers, canisters or pallets. This model of tag is suitable for use in the oil industry on ships, the company reports.

iDTRONIC’s High Temp RFID UHF tags can be mounted in different ways. The BT-1HT version can be screwed and welded on, while the BT-3HT model can only be screwed on. Both are suited for the chemical industry, according to the company. The lightness and compact dimensions of the tags allow them to be mounted on any metal pipes, valves, hoists, chains, lifting straps, returnable containers, canisters or pallets, the firm reports.

The tags contain an Alien Higgs 3 chip containing 128 bits of memory. The BT-1HT is composed of high-temperature resin with ceramic filler, while the BT-3HT is made of high-temperature nylon. They weigh 36 grams and 43 grams, respectively. According to iDTRONIC, the tags are suitable for cold and hot temperature environments ranging from -50 degrees Celsius to +400 degrees Celsius.

BLE Company BlueCats Merges With UWB Firm PLUS Location Systems

BlueCats, a provider of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) location solutions, has announced a merger with PLUS Location Systems, which offers ultra-wideband (UWB) technologies. The new combined entity will operate under the BlueCats brand and will form a portfolio of real-time location system (RTLS) software and hardware products.

In addition, BlueCats will officially launch its new Loop software platform. The platform, residing either on-premise, in the cloud or in a combination of the two, consists of a suite of location-focused products and applications developed with an agnostic approach, enabling integration into most existing and future RTLS hardware, the companies report.

“For many years, BlueCats and PLUS have worked in parallel, on different technology trajectories,” said Nathan Dunn, BlueCats’ co-founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. “The market has told us of the genuine need for an RTLS platform that is scalable and deployable today, with the inherent capability to evolve with current and future technology trends, such as BLE 5.1 (AoA) and the mainstream emergence of UWB. Loop is that platform.”

“Solving dots on a map via proprietary technology doesn’t scale well and will never enable genuine widespread adoption,” Dunn added in the statement. “Our approach with Loop is to provide a ‘connect anything’ location platform allowing simultaneous RTLS inputs (BLE/UWB/GPS, etc.), through to a singular visualization with APIs and connectors. This enables faster and simpler adoption across all market verticals.”

UWB is going mainstream and will soon feature in our daily lives almost as much as Bluetooth does,” said Cody Singleton, BlueCats’ co-founder and CTO, in the prepared statement. “The merger of these two innovative teams, along with the extensive IP, represents a huge step forward in making RTLS usable and scalable. This perfectly positions BlueCats to deliver on our vision of providing digital awareness to every industry on the planet.”

Avnet, Trusted Objects Form Strategic Alliance for Industrial IoT

Global technology solutions provider Avnet has entered into a strategic alliance with Trusted Objects, a software company specializing in Internet of Things (IoT) security, to offer a scalable security solution for low-power IoT devices. The relationship provides IoT customers with the ability to secure their devices while speeding time to market, reducing costs and managing complexity, according to the companies.

“With Trusted Objects, we are able to more flexibly design secure IoT solutions that match our customers’ needs and, ultimately, their unique business cases,” said Lou Lutostanski, Avnet’s VP of the Internet of Things, in a prepared statement. “The real difference in our approach is our ability to accommodate solutions that are both low-power and large-scale. Together with Trusted Objects, Avnet’s ecosystem offers customers a complete Industrial IoT solution that’s simple to integrate and unique to the market—one that makes IoT security more scalable and easier to implement.”

The alliance of Avnet and Trusted Objects is intended to address the fragmentation challenge faced by developers seeking to secure their IoT deployments in three main areas: cloud, middleware and on-device. Security at each level is often managed by separate providers, increasing the complexity and cost of deploying these solutions. This is particularly challenging in low-power devices commonly used in Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications. Trusted Objects’ native security implementation is specifically designed for these applications, the firms report, providing a more unified, standardized platform to manage and execute security throughout the IoT deployment.

“Developers are working hard to create IoT ecosystems that can be trusted by businesses, and the complexities they face have stifled the scalability of these solutions,” said Sami Anbouba, Trusted Objects’ CEO, in the prepared statement. “By working with Avnet, we’re able to take steps toward standardizing the end-to-end security developers need to protect their IoT ecosystems.”

Avnet secures IoT solutions, particularly in IIoT deployments, by embedding three core elements of Trusted Objects’ software into a customer’s MCU or Secure Element. The company’s native proprietary implementation can be embedded into an MCU or Secure Element for high levels of security. Trusted Objects’ security stacks allow for easy, secure connectivity between the device, the IoT network and the cloud. The personalization and provisioning features of Trusted Objects’ technology allow Avnet to perform IoT device personalization to scale engineering solutions.

Senet, SimplyCity Partner on LoRaWAN Connectivity, IoT Solutions for Australia

Senet, a provider of cloud-based software and services platforms to enable global connectivity and network build-out for the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced a technology partnership with SimplyCity, an IoT solution provider and systems integrator based in Australia.

SimplyCity provides smart-city management solutions to Australian Councils for a variety of applications, including solar energy metering, control systems, street lighting and pedestrian flow monitoring. By partnering with Senet for network-as-a-service (NaaS) connectivity and device-management services, SimplyCity helps its clients transform legacy monitoring systems to modern IoT solutions, delivering cost savings, usage optimization, increased energy efficiency and improved municipal planning, the company reports.

“We selected Senet as our managed LoRaWAN network provider based upon their flexible coverage models, network planning and management capabilities, and reliable enterprise-level of service support,” said Ram Kuppusamy, the director of SimplyCity, in a prepared statement. “This strategic partnership also allows us to take advantage of Senet’s vast ecosystem of certified sensor and gateway manufacturers from around the world.”

In collaboration with Senet, SimplyCity is implementing an environmental-monitoring solution in a Western Australian salt mine. Working with local farmers and governments, SimplyCity has provided LoRaWAN-based agricultural productivity solutions under its SimplyFarm business unit and brand, and is enabling critical infrastructure and asset-management projects and services for communities, city planners and STEM school students through the deployment of a “Free to Use IoT Network.”

“We look forward to working with SimplyCity to provide IoT network connectivity and managed network services to support and scale customer IoT applications across many diverse markets,” said Bruce Chatterley, Senet’s CEO, in the prepared statement. “SimplyCity has proven expertise solving problems for municipalities, farms and industrial organizations by integrating and sharing critical sensor data. We are excited to be collaborating with SimplyCity to create and implement future IoT applications across Australia.”

ABI Research Predicts Bluetooth-Powered IoT Device Shipments to Exceed Smartphones

According to global technology market advisory firm ABI Research, Internet of Things (IoT) end markets will represent 31 percent of total Bluetooth and 27 percent of Wi-Fi device shipments by 2024, up from 13 percent and 10 percent respectively in 2018. Smartphones will continue to be important markets of strength for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the firm reports, though when it comes to Bluetooth shipments, the IoT market is expected to overtake smartphones in 2024 as its share of the market falls to less than 30 percent. The share of smartphones as a proportion of Wi-Fi device shipments is also set to fall below 40 percent by 2024.

“Bluetooth will continue to grow in other areas, such as speakers, headsets, mobile and PC accessories,” said Andrew Zignani, a principal analyst at ABI Research, in a prepared statement, “and both technologies will continue to push into other consumer electronics devices, such as connected toys and home entertainment. However, the IoT is beginning to take an increasingly significant share of the market.”

Key IoT opportunities for Bluetooth will be found within asset management and location services in devices such as beacons and personal trackers. These are anticipated to grow from around 2 percent of the Bluetooth market in 2018 to greater than 8.5 percent by 2024. Bluetooth-enabled wearable devices are also expected to break the 400 million device barrier by 2024, ABI Research predicts, with increased traction in smartwatches, activity trackers, smart clothing and hearables.

Wi-Fi-enabled wearables are expected to reach more than 250 million units by this time, the firm indicates. Smart homes will be one of the quickest growing markets for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. Wi-Fi-enabled smart-home devices are expected to grow from 5 percent in 2018 to nearly 16 percent by 2024, while Bluetooth will rise from 4 percent to 13 percent within the same period, with traction in voice-control front ends, smart appliances, smart lighting, sensor devices, video cameras and more.

Wi-Fi 6 shows great potential for the IoT space, ABI Research reports, thanks to new enhancements such as target wake time, OFDMA and narrowband implementations. However, the firm notes, the transition away from 802.11n in favor of Wi-Fi 6 will take some time. “802.11n is a very well-established technology available at very low cost from a wide number of vendors while new chipsets driving down power consumption are continuing to arrive to the market,” Zignani said in the prepared statement. “Many industry players are still having product discussions leveraging 802.11n and expect this to continue for some time. In addition, some regions, such as China, are more conservative on newer technologies.”

“Much of the initial marketing around Wi-Fi 6 has been at the higher end, with limited focus on IoT applications,” Zignani added. “While this is understandable given the initial rollout in networking, laptop and smartphone clients, much needs to be done to educate the industry around the other benefits that Wi-Fi 6 can bring about for battery-constrained IoT devices. However, as 802.11ax chipset prices fall and vendors refine their product lines to support IoT clients, this is likely to change. ABI Research expects the IoT market to transition toward Wi-Fi 6 in earnest within 2-3 years.”

Chipset availability for 802.11ah, also known as Wi-Fi HaLow, is still limited. Many HaLow ICs are still in development and most are from startup companies; in fact, many traditional Wi-Fi IC vendors are not backing the technology and do not have any HaLow ICs on the market, ABI Research reports. However, the first products are beginning to arrive from the likes of Newracom, and the next 12 to 18 months will be crucial in establishing HaLow’s position in the IoT landscape.

“While the connectivity chipset market is currently dominated by Qualcomm, Broadcom and MediaTek, thanks to their entrenchment in the smartphone market, the IoT opens the competition to a wider range of chipset vendors who are exploring different dimensions of differentiation,” Zignani noted. “These include companies like Cypress (recently acquired by Infineon), Silicon Labs, Nordic Semiconductor, Dialog Semiconductor, NXP, STMicroelectronics, TI, On Semiconductor, u-blox, and Atmosic, among others.”

The above findings come from ABI Research’s “Wireless Connectivity Technology Segmentation & Addressable Markets” market data, part of the company’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Wireless Connectivity research service, which includes research, data and Executive Foresights.

PrecisionHawk, Skylogic Research Release Drone Technology Guide

PrecisionHawk, a provider of drone technologies, has announced the release of a technology guide titled “Making a Successful Business Case for Drone Technology,” which provides a blueprint for enterprises to develop a business case for deploying a drone technology program. Produced in partnership with Skylogic Research, the guide offers enterprises a step-by-step process to analyze, evaluate and communicate key objectives of a drone program to ensure company-wide adoption.

According to a 2018 report from Goldman Sachs, the global drone industry is expected to reach $100 billion by 2020, with businesses—such as those in the utilities, agriculture, construction, oil and gas, and insurance sectors—and governments expected to spend $13 billion on drones within that same timeframe. Many enterprise and civil leaders are unsure how to get started, however.

In Skylogic Research’s 2018 “Drone Market Sector Report,” businesses and agencies with existing drone programs were asked what issues they felt were inhibiting further growth of their programs. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they struggled with proving a positive return on investment for their program, while nearly 30 percent said they struggled with maintaining internal drone policies and procedures. PrecisionHawk’s reference guide offers solutions for these and other issues, the company reports, including short- and long-term planning, gaining executive buy-in, documenting costs and assessing the business impact, in order to ensure that the resulting drone program’s objectives are aligned with the impact on a business’s bottom line.

“When compared to other technology investments, the financial and operational barriers to entry for deploying a drone program are relatively low,” said Colin Snow, Skylogic Research’s CEO and founder, in a prepared statement. “However, our research has shown that business leaders must be able to quantify and prove the ROI of a drone program before it has any chance of moving beyond the trial phase. By developing a drone business case before implementation, innovation leaders are able to spell out exactly how they plan to quantify success and deliver ROI—both crucial for the successful adoption of a drone-based technology program.”

“Like any other new technology, the adoption of drones across an organization is dependent on how well they support a business’s goals and strategy,” said Kevin Lang, PrecisionHawk’s general manager of agriculture, in the prepared statement. “In addition to determining how to best quantify the ROI of a new drone program, organizations are faced with questions regarding the structure of the program—do they ‘build’ using internal resources, ‘buy’ services from external providers, or use a hybrid model? The reality is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and the purpose of this guide is to help businesses identify their right fit and ensure the organization is fully aligned before execution.”

The full reference guide, including sample business cases and planning frameworks, can be accessed here.