RFID News Roundup

NXP provides automotive NFC technology to car OEMs ••• Michelin adds RFID to commercial truck tires, retreads for fleet management ••• Taoglas unveils 5G antenna series ••• iDTRONIC intros RFID tablet, mobile device ••• Schreiner PrinTronics offers printed RFID sensor platform ••• MetraLabs to present TORY, SCITOS A5 robots at European trade fair.
Published: March 2, 2017

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: NXP Semiconductors; Michelin; Taoglas; iDTRONIC; Schreiner PrinTronics; and MetraLabs.

NXP Provides Automotive NFC Technology to Car OEMs

NXP Semiconductors, a provider of automotive semiconductor solutions, has announced that five original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will equip their future cars with NXP’s Near Field Communication (NFC) devices. This technology will enable secure interactions between smartphones and smart cars, the company reports, such as complementary car access, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairing, personalization and payment.

NFC technology continues to gain momentum with consumers, NXP says, fueled by the popularity of NFC-enabled mobile phones and wearables. NFC devices can interact within smart-city infrastructures to provide secure access to hotel rooms, health clubs, public transport, parking entry, stadiums and smart cars.

In the automotive sector, NFC enables a broad range of smart services. According to NXP, automotive NFC can grant and revoke access to a vehicle on a secure, restricted basis for multiple users, such as family members and friends; provide flexible fleet-management and car-sharing solutions; secure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairing; conduct point-of-interest transfer from a smartphone to a car’s navigation system; enable in-car purchases; alert a driver regarding maintenance status via over-the-air updates; and adjust a vehicle’s personalized settings, such as seats and mirrors.

NXP’s NCx3320 is an automotive-grade NFC front-end IC intended to provide secure car access. It offers low-power operation and phone or card detection distance, the firm indicates, making it suitable for exterior car applications like smart-car access. The NCx3320 comes with a generic software library, which is portable across different MCUs, reducing application-development times. It is qualified for -40 degrees to +125 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees to +257 degrees Fahrenheit), and is accompanied by a door handle reference design to lower entry barriers for successful integration of NFC technology.

“Our deep expertise in NFC, security and automotive has made us the trusted advisor to automotive OEMs on applications that securely connect smart cars and smartphones,” said Rainer Lutz, NXP’s director of new business for secure car access, in a prepared statement. “The NXP NCx3320 further extends our portfolio and the corresponding reference design makes us the competent sparring partner for Tier 1s to build robust solutions even in the most challenging environments.”

Michelin Adds RFID to Commercial Truck Tires, Retreads for Fleet Management

Michelin Americas Truck Tires, a division of Michelin North America, has announced that radio frequency identification is being added to its commercial truck tires and retreads, enabling fleets to better manage tire assets throughout their life cycle. In addition, Michelin’s Tire Care tire-maintenance program is being upgraded to include new features, providing fleets with greater visibility, assurance and ease around the maintenance of tires.

“Michelin is the first manufacturer to integrate RFID into its full commercial truck tire portfolio. Technology is transforming the trucking industry and Michelin is leading this effort to improve fleet performance and bottom line,” said Ralph Dimenna, the chief operating officer of Michelin Americas’ Truck Tires division, in a prepared statement. “We continue to drive innovation for fleets by integrating technology and enhancements to our services that add significant value to our fleet customers’ business.”

Michelin first introduced its Tire Care service in 2015 to assist fleets in identifying and addressing tire issues that lead to downtime, low mileage, high fuel costs and safety risks. During the past year, 20 percent of vehicles inspected in the program have been deemed a Red Tag event (a critical issue requiring immediate attention to avoid an ERS event or CSA violation), while 63 percent of vehicles inspected reported a Yellow Tag event (an issue resulting in additional long-term costs).

“Since implementing Michelin Tire Care, Transervice has seen a definite reduction in our monthly emergency road service calls,” said Ron Reid, Transervice Logistics’ operations manager, in a prepared statement. “We are averaging 2.5 tire-related ERS calls per month—down from 5.5 per month last year—which helps us save $2,000 per month. And the Michelin ONCall program has reduced our average downtime by 35 minutes per ERS event.”

Taoglas Unveils 5G Antenna Series

In an effort to accelerate the launch of 5G wireless communications networks around the world, Taoglas, a provider of Internet of Things and machine-to-machine antenna and RF solutions, has unveiled its new series of 5G multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antenna arrays. The new antennas—including the Adaptrix CMM200.A, which features a patent-pending, modular interlocking system to help operators scale quickly to meet the speed and capacity demands of 5G—will be demonstrated at this week’s Mobile World Congress conference.

Designed to support the growing demand from IoT devices and users for high-speed, low-latency connectivity for a growing multitude of use cases across industries, 5G networks need to be able to scale quickly to support demand, with the flexibility to accommodate different spectrum requirements and use cases as they emerge. The new 5G antenna solutions from Taoglas include Adaptrix CMM200.A, a 5-6 GHz C-Band massive MIMO array; Aurora CMM100.A, a 5-6 GHz C-Band massive MIMO phased array; Pegasus CMM300.A, a 5-6 GHz C-Band slant-polarized massive MIMO panel; and Sauron ELA100.A, a 77 GHz e-band lens array antenna.

The Adaptrix antenna is the first in a series of millimeter-wave antenna arrays from Taoglas to utilize the company’s interlocking modular system. “This first-in-the-industry antenna system means that when you need to add capacity, you simply attach extra panels,” said Dermot O’Shea, Taoglas’ co-CEO, in a prepared statement. “You can build them up vertically or horizontally like Lego blocks. You don’t need to worry about spacing, alignment or positioning; it’s a fool-proof system to achieving optimal installation methods.”

“As the 5G drum begins to beat more loudly, the market demand is growing for 5G antennas that can scale and adapt quickly as standards emerge,” said Ronan Quinlan, Taoglas’ co-CEO, in the prepared statement. “Taoglas’ 5G antennas will help vendors and network operators not only get into the field with 5G technology more quickly, but simplify installation and reconfiguration, helping them rapidly adjust and scale as demand and other requirements grow.”

iDTRONIC Intros RFID Tablet, Mobile Device

iDTRONIC has announced a new RFID tablet, known as the C4 Tablet, as well as a handheld RFID mobile device called the C4 Green.

The C4 Tablet is a rugged Android 4.4.2 industrial RFID tablet with a 7-inch high-definition LED backlight touch screen and an integrated RFID reader. It operates on an ARM Cortex A7 1.3 GHz quadcore processor with 1 gigabyte of random access memory (RAM) and 16 gigabytes of read-only memory (ROM).

C4 RFID Tablet

The C4 Tablet measures 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) in thickness and weighs 500 grams (17.6 ounces), including a battery. Its portable size is suitable for all applications in the industrial fieldwork, the company reports, and its rugged IP65 housing is built to withstand any tough environment.

Users can select between a fully integrated UHF (ETSI/ FCC), 13.56 MHz HF or 125 kHz LF reader. A built-in 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a 2-megapixel front camera facilitate data-capture, the firm reports, while a 1D bar-code scanner or 2D bar-code imager are available as options.

The C4 Tablet features the latest network communication technologies, including Wi-Fi, WCDMA, GSM/GPRS/Edge, Bluetooth and embedded A-GPS. Additionally, the tablet is available with a fingerprint reader.

C4 Green

The handheld C4 Green is a smartphone-sized Android device with a 4-inch touch screen and an additional keypad. Its rugged, lightweight IP65 design is suitable for both interior and exterior applications, the firm notes. The C4 Green offers multiple mobile data services, including WWAN, WPAN and GPS. Users can choose from three fully integrated RFID readers: UHF, HF and LF.

The portable C4 Green mobile device features an A53 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of ROM, enabling improved work efficiency, better task flow and quicker response times. Its rechargeable 5200mAh lithium-ion battery lasts for hours on a single charge. The IP65-rated C4 Green is equipped with a rear 8-megapixel camera and an optional fingerprint reader. A 1D or 2D bar-code reader is optionally available.

Schreiner PrinTronics Offers Printed RFID Sensor Platform

Schreiner PrinTronics, Schreiner Group’s competence center for printed electronics, will present a printed RFID sensor platform in the Innovation Showcase at the LOPEC conference, to be held in Munich on Mar. 29-30. The platform features a complex label with electrical functions. Using printed conductive traces, the label combines temperature and first-opening sensors with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip.

An imprinted NFC antenna enables the chip to be read via a smartphone, the company reports. The solution, developed for roll-to-roll processes, is intended for use in automated processing.

Schreiner’s printed RFID sensor platform

When the printed RFID sensor platform is used to seal a product pack, it performs two functions. By means of a sensor, it continuously measures and records temperatures across the supply chain, throughout the label’s lifetime.

A thin, flexible battery embedded in the label enables such long-term data logging. An integrated first-opening sensor indicates whether or not the label has been cut through to open the box, and thus whether or not the contents may have been exposed to tampering.

MetraLabs to Present TORY, SCITOS A5 Robots at European Trade Fair

At next week’s EuroShop 2017 trade fair, MetraLabs will present its TORY RFID inventory robot and SCITOS A5 entertainment and guiding robot. More than a year ago, TORY was installed at a store of German fashion retailer Adler Modemärkte AG, in Erfurt, Germany (see German Clothing Retailer Adler Gives RFID Robots a Spin and MetraLabs’ TORY RFID Inventory Robot Celebrates First Jubilee). Adler then extended the use of TORY to further stores. SCITOS A5 has been used at hardware stores and museums.

The SCITOS A5 is now equipped with security capabilities. The robot has got a 360-degree camera that enables it to control storage and sales floors. TORY is currently being used for autonomous inventory via UHF RFID technology, and serves as a shopping assistant by guiding customers to the items them seek.

MetraLabs’s TORY robot

According to MetraLabs, the TORY robot is slated to assume additional tasks in retail. Therefore, the company is developing new applications, such as speech recognition and synthesis, planogram management, floor cleaning and goods transport.

“In the future, mobile service robots will have a place in retail,” said Dr. Andreas Bley, MetraLabs’ co-founder and managing director, in a prepared statement. “With TORY, we would like to provide a reliable all-in-one solution and develop it in close cooperation with our clients.”