RFID News Roundup

STMicroelectronics unveils toolset to ensure IoT cyber-protection; Identiv, Schreiner Group to provide RFID inlays for medical anti-counterfeiting; ProxiGroup RFID Solutions offers site-survey system using RFID, IoT; Pod Group enables Alemetic Systems to transport valuable cargo across African jungle; Powercast's long-range wireless power technology gains three FCC approvals; Patron Technology acquires RFID cashless payments company Token Systems.
Published: August 1, 2019

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Identiv, Schreiner Group;
ProxiGroup RFID Solutions;
Pod Group, Alemetic Systems;
Patron Technology, and Token Systems.

STMicroelectronics Unveils Toolset to Ensure IoT Cyber-Protection

STMicroelectronics, a semiconductor firm for electronics applications, has announced its STM32Trust toolkit, intended to aid designers in building cyber-protection into new Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The toolkit, which includes design tools and software, helps users utilize features built into STM32-family microcontrollers to ensure trust among devices, prevent unauthorized access and resist side-channel attacks, in order to avert data theft and code modification.

“Connected devices like smart sensors and remote actuators are intrinsic to our infrastructure and services, so ensuring effective security becomes of paramount importance,” said Ricardo De Sa Earp, the general manager of STMicroelectronics’ Microcontroller Division, in a prepared statement. “STM32Trust eases developers’ understanding and acceptance of the new mandatory security rules, which is a key emerging challenge in the general-purpose microcontroller market today.”

The STM32 family, a system-on-chip portfolio based on Arm‘s Cortex CPU architecture, contains almost 1,000 variants used in smart appliances, remote sensors, wearables, e-health devices, IoT gateways, access-controlled storage, payments and more. Depending on the model, hardware cyber-protection can include features such as customized secure boot, a random-number generator to prevent hackers from observing patterns in signals, dedicated encryption co-processors and secure storage for encryption keys. STMicroelectronics also builds in tamper detection and firewall code-isolation mechanisms, as well as Arm’s TrustZone technologies for the protection of sensitive code.

STM32Trust allows product developers to protect connected objects using these features, including reference materials and free software. Among the reference software packages, X-CUBE-SBSFU demonstrates how to protect application code being transferred into boot memory or updated in the field. X-CUBE-SBSFU reference packages are available for STM32F4, F7, H7, L0, L1, L4, G0, G4 and WB. There is also a reference implementation of STMicroelectronics’ secure element STSAFE, which is designed to boosts the security level of a final application.

In addition, secure firmware installation solutions for STM32L4 and STM32H7 microcontrollers provide protection while devices are being programmed for the first time. The solution offers a toolset to encrypt OEM binaries with the firm’s Trusted Package Creator software, the STM32CUBEProgrammer to flash the STM32 securely, and the STM32HSM to transfer OEM credentials to a programming partner. The STM32Trust resources, including tools, evaluated reference material and source code, can be downloaded for free at the company’s website.

Identiv, Schreiner Group to Provide RFID Inlays for Medical Anti-Counterfeiting

Identiv has announced that it has entered into a multi-year agreement with Schreiner Group GmbH to deliver Identiv’s RFID inlays for device-level authentication and anti-counterfeiting of one-time-use medical devices in hospitals. Identiv is contracted to strengthen secure authentication in the Internet of Things (IoT) throughout the next three years, with several million inlays from its RFID portfolio slated to be connected to labels and attached to medical devices in hospitals throughout Europe. These inlays will provide contactless identification of the devices, optimizing processes during medical procedures, and protecting patients’ health and safety from counterfeiting.

“Identiv is proud that our highly secure RFID inlays were the right fit for this project, strengthening our long-term partnership with Schreiner Group,” said Manfred Mueller, Identiv’s COO and general manager for identity, in a prepared statement. “We see device-level authentication and anti-counterfeiting applications gaining further importance throughout the IoT, not just in the medical field. Customers looking to protect people and products are our priority at Identiv.”

Identiv’s dry RFID inlays measure 32 millimeters by 15 millimeters (1.3 inches by 0.6 inch) and feature Infineon Technologies‘ SRF55V02P chips. Once the three-year contract has been fulfilled, the company reports, discussions will be held to expand the business.

“At Schreiner Group, it’s our mission to benefit our customers by delivering intelligent solutions that optimize processes and enhance product safety,” said Manfred Laschinger, Schreiner Group’s head of corporate purchasing, in the prepared statement. “Our customers are challenging us to meet the highest standards in terms of quality, reliability, and service. And we are pleased to continue working with Identiv to deliver just this.”

Identiv’s RFID, Near Field Communication (NFC) and inlay transponder portfolio provides smart identities and security for the IoT. The company’s high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) 13.56 MHz RFID inlays are customizable, are available in dry and wet formats, and come in various shapes and sizes. The inlays can feature designs integrating various materials, chip technologies and frequencies, for both metal and non-metal environments. Identiv produces inlays using flip-chip technology and high-volume die-bonding processes, with integrated inline quality and process control.

In addition to health care and the IoT, Identiv’s inlays can be employed for NFC smart posters and billboards, libraries, event and transportation ticketing, the automotive and chemical industries, logistics and supply chain, asset management, pharmaceuticals, electronic games, event management, wearable technologies, customer loyalty programs and more.

ProxiGroup RFID Solutions Offers Site-Survey System Using RFID, IoT

For next four months, companies in Poland will work with startups to implement services and products developing Industry 4.0 in that country. This objective will be completed with such tools as workshops, mentoring, consulting services and industry tours. Prepared by Poland’s Industry Development Agency, a document titled “Chances and Challenges for Polish Industry 4.0” claims the average number of robots pre 10,000 employees is 22 within that nation, while the average number worldwide is 74. Accelerator KPT ScaleUP is working to improve this situation by fostering cooperation between large companies and startups that have just commenced their business activity.

“Common ground for both groups is an area of interest, which is Industry 4.0 and everything related—automation, integration and the Industrial Internet of Things,” said Bartosz Józefowski, KPT ScaleUP’s accelerator manager, in a prepared statement. “The basic rule of our accelerator is quite simple: experienced companies and carefully selected experts participate in developing valuable ideas from startups. The final stage of this process ought to be a product ready to be implemented in Polish factories.”

Among the participants is TAURON, which is looking for ideas for such areas as smart cities, smart homes, Industry 4.0 and smart distribution networks. As such, the firm is seeking startups offering perspective solutions for usage of the IoT (communication, sensors and analytics, for instance) for the home, or for the management of various components of city, energy or heating infrastructure.

Azoty Group will take part as well. “By joining KPT ScaleUP, we prove that this is a key area for us. The direct benefit for us is a chance to test and cooperate with stakeholders which have expert skills in technology,” said Grzegorz Kądzielawski, Azoty’s vice-chairman, in the prepared statement. “We also pay attention to the reduction of risk failure. From our point of view, this accelerator generates benefits for both sides. Experience gained by startups and us will result in a better understanding of expectations for bigger and smaller stakeholders. That will lead to an increasing level of market competitiveness of Polish companies. In the current edition of KPT ScaleUP, we are interested in big data and Internet of Things solutions.”

Startups qualified for this edition represent various sectors. One company that will be supported is ProxiGroup RFID Solutions, whose RFID solutions provide actionable CAD model-centric site survey intelligence for use in an IoT landscape. According to ProxiGroup, signal ranging and optimization features are instrumental in maximizing the efficiency, accuracy and performance of a site survey design. Its system provides numerous degrees of RFID antenna placement and also analyzes such factors as power availability, signal strength and the presence of ambient electromagnetic noise. ProxiGroup’s solution enables companies to perform full inventory counts more easily, the company reports.

Pod Group Enables Alemetic Systems to Transport Valuable Cargo Across African Jungle

Pod Group, a provider of platforms, software and connectivity services for the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced that it has signed an agreement to provide an IoT connectivity solution to Alemetic Systems, a Kenya-based provider of vehicle-tracking and fleet-management solutions. Alemetic Systems will use Pod Group’s multi-network connectivity solution for its tracking and fleet-management devices.

The solution includes global, multi-network SIM cards that automatically switch networks if coverage is lost or as vehicles cross borders, in order to keep devices connected. Pod Group’s multi-network SIMs cover more than 600 networks throughout 185 countries and are controlled remotely via a centralized management platform, which provides information regarding SIM status, network and location, as well as diagnostics, analysis and reporting of device connectivity.

Alemetic Systems provides tracking services to both the private and public sectors for the transportation of valuable assets and cargo across Eastern and Central Africa. Its clients typically move high-value cargo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ports in Walvis Bay, Durban, Beira and Dar es Salaam, with trucks traveling through Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. One of the biggest challenges these companies faces is the remote nature of such locations, where connectivity is patchy and borders are constantly being crossed.

Pod Group’s solution will enable Alemetic Systems to eliminate coverage issues on the move, by giving customers access to multiple networks in each country and ensuring the SIMs automatically switch networks if necessary. “We use Pod SIM cards because our clients operate in the most remote areas where network stability of one provider is not guaranteed,” said Luke Kerich, a technical specialist at Alemetic Systems, in a prepared statement. “Our clients operate in copper and gold mines and traverse the jungle. To have visibility of the trucks carrying this high-value cargo requires an IoT SIM that can handle erratic network connections. Compared to all the other IoT providers, Pod’s technology and the power to manage our own SIMs is excellent.”

Charles Towers-Clark, Pod Group’s CEO, added in the statement, “Our solution has been designed for remote and mission-critical applications, such as that provided by Alemetic Systems. Our 20 years of experience in this market has allowed us to develop an IoT connectivity solution that provides the coverage and resilience required for even the most remote areas, as this agreement proves.”

Powercast’s Long-Range Wireless Power Technology Gains Three FCC Approvals

Powercast has announced that its RF-based long-range over-the-air wireless power technology has received three new certifications from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—totaling seven since 2007—adding retail applications to the company’s existing FCC approvals for deployments in consumer, commercial and industrial environments. Powercast’s technology works in the far field to charge multiple devices over the air, without range limitations from the FCC, and without requiring wires, charging mats or direct line of sight.

Two of Powercast’s three new certifications clear updated versions of its FCC-Part-15-approved PowerSpot and Powercaster far-field transmitters, now under FCC Part 18, to provide wireless power over distance in on-shelf retail applications. Examples include wirelessly illuminated product packaging, interactive end-cap displays and electronic paper displays, such as electronic shelf-edge labels.

The Part-18-approved transmitters can provide continuous power to many devices, such as Powercast’s Batteryless RFID Retail Price Tag with an E Ink screen, launched in 2018 at the RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition (see New Label Changes Displayed Price Data With Power from RFID). Retailers can place a Powercast wireless power transmitter on a shelf to power electronic marketing features like illumination, sound or color changes that are designed into packaging or displays to showcase products on a shelf.

Retailers can use these transmitters to charge or directly power any enabled consumer devices that they place on the shelf for sale, the company reports, such as smart watches, headphones or computer peripherals, enabling customers to leave with their new devices fully charged and ready for use. These updated transmitters (FCC IDs YESTX91513 and YESTX91511B) use Powercast’s PowerSpot and Powercaster three-watt (EIRP) hardware platforms with modified firmware. They are available immediately from Powercast and will be sold in the coming weeks by distributors Mouser, Digikey and Arrow Electronics.

Powercast worked with the FCC to gain these additional Part 18 approvals as part of its partnership with PPG. The companies are jointly developing ultra-thin and wirelessly powered printed electronics products that provide indefinite illumination and other electronic marketing features without wires, batteries, charging ports or contact with a power source. The third new FCC approval is a re-certification under Part 15 of Powercast’s original Powercaster transmitter (FCC ID YES TX91501B), which has been redesigned with updated components to enable large-scale manufacturing.

“We are proud to announce our fifth, sixth, and seventh long-range wireless power FCC approvals,” said Charles Greene, Powercast’s chief operating and technical officer, in a prepared statement. “From our first Part 18 far-field approval in 2007, we have worked with our customers to provide deployable solutions that meet their real-world requirements. We’ve enjoyed working with the FCC over the years to bring tangible RF wireless power to various applications, and now to on-shelf retail applications. We have a great relationship with the FCC because of our no-nonsense approach to deploying effective RF wireless power solutions. The FCC has never restricted the distance over which our technology can operate, differentiating it from other wireless power-over-distance technologies. Powercast plans to maintain our approach as we continue to lead the deployments of RF wireless power.”

Patron Technology Acquires RFID Cashless Payments Company Token Systems

Event technology company Patron Technology has announced that it has acquired Ticketbooth and sister companies Token Systems and Audiencetools. Audiencetools, a social-marketing platform used to help companies sell more tickets, and Token Systems, an RFID solution for cashless payments at events, are both owned by Ticketbooth.

The terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. While the company already supports numerous festivals and events around the world, this is its first acquisition based outside of North America. Patron Technology says it offers a start-to-finish platform aimed at growing events, including ticketing, event operations, data-driven engagement tools, experiential marketing and mobile app solutions. Audiencetools increases the social-marketing capabilities of event organizers, while Token Systems helps attendees to make purchases during an event.

“Over the past few years, Patron Technology has grown into a global presence in the event industry, offering event organizers a better, more flexible way to manage their events and deepen their relationship with attendees and sponsors,” said Marc Jenkins, Patron Technology’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “Our top priority, always, is providing our partners with the tools they need to take their event to the next level. With this latest acquisition of Ticketbooth, we will be able to do even more to give attendees an amazing event experience.”

“We already work well with ShowClix and align with the mission of Patron Technology to supply organizers with the tools they need to create awesome experiences every step of the way, so I am pleased to be integrating with the Patron Technology team fully,” said Simon Guerrero, Ticketbooth’s CEO, in the prepared statement. “Both Token and Audiencetools are positioned to help with strong cashless and social marketing platform offerings for the U.S.”