RFID News Roundup

Xerafy releases ceramic RFID tag; Zebra Technologies intros data-intelligence platform; Triax Technologies adds access-control functionality to its construction platform; Zigbee Alliance announces initiative to strengthen IoT security, interoperability, reliability; Tuya, Microsoft collaborate to power smart-home products on Azure Cloud platform; Global Market Insights predicts automotive NFC market will be worth $6 billion by 2025.
Published: June 6, 2019

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Zebra Technologies;
Triax Technologies;
the Zigbee Alliance;
Tuya, Microsoft; and
Global Market Insights.

Xerafy Releases Ceramic RFID Tag

Xerafy has announced its MicroX II ceramic RFID tag, designed to perform in the presence of extreme heat and under repeated exposure to caustic fluids, for such applications as hot water wash cycles. The tag is ATEX-certified for use in explosive atmospheres in which customers need to be assured that safety will not be compromised.

According to the company, the tag can operate under high application temperature ranges and perform under repeated exposure to caustic fluids, as it is built for use in extreme environments. Applications include bulk container tracking, AGV/small vehicle management and RTI management.

The tag’s operating temperature is -40 degrees to +185 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees to +85 degrees Celsius). It measures 2.01 inches by 1.43 inches by 0.30 inch and weighs 0.92 ounce. The tag’s read range on metal is up to 33 feet. It comes with an attachment rivet hole measuring 0.12 inch and an optional adhesive.

The MicroX II is IP68-rated. Application temperatures range from -40 degrees to +482 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees to +250 degrees Celsius). It complies with the EPC Class 1 Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C RF air-interface protocols. Operating frequencies include 902 to 928 MHz (UHF) in the United States and 866 to 868 MHz in the European Union. The tag contains a Higgs-3 chip from Alien Technology.

Zebra Technologies Intros Data-Intelligence Platform

Zebra Technologies has unveiled its Savanna Data Services cloud-based capability, part of its Zebra Savanna data-intelligence platform, which allows adopters to collect and process data from Zebra hardware in real time.

Savanna Data Services make intelligent edge device data, including third-party data services, available to independent software vendors, software developers and business innovators via application programming interfaces. The system is designed to empower business innovators and software developers to build solutions pertinent to individual business and customer needs, without the expense of maintaining and managing their own platform. The tools can be accessed to integrate Zebra’s hardware, software and data ecosystems. According to Zebra, using existing APIs shortens development cycles, reducing maintenance, access and management costs.

“Savanna Data Services enable the creation of bespoke, innovative and compelling solutions that will revolutionize how enterprises operate,” said Drew Ehlers, Zebra’s global director of portfolio marketing and enterprise software. “Our new developer experience allows users to exclusively leverage intelligent edge device data along with third-party data services via APIs through the Savanna platform to completely transform workflows, identify supply chain bottlenecks and produce outstanding business outcomes.”

Zebra recently announced its plan to acquire Profitect, a provider of prescriptive analytics services. According to Zebra, the combination of real-time data and Profitect’s access to operational data, machine learning and prescriptive analytics will enable Zebra’s partners to provide front-line workers with greater insights for smarter decision-making.

Businesses across the retail, health-care, transportation, logistics and manufacturing sectors, as well as software developers involved in printing, scanning, bar-coding, RFID and indoor location tracking solutions, will have access to APIs, blockchain traceability, bar-code intelligence and recall notifications. Hosted on the Zebra Developer Portal, Savanna Data Services will be sold via a Web-based, self-service model and can be accessed 24-7.

Triax Technologies Adds Access-Control Functionality to Its Construction Platform

Triax Technologies, a provider of technology for connected jobsites, has announced that it has added new access-control capabilities to its Spot-r platform, providing perimeter visibility to increase construction site safety and security, and to reduce contractors’ general liability risk. With Spot-r, contractors have real-time visibility into worker location, safety events and activities, from when they enter a jobsite until they leave.

The access-control system includes the Spot-r Clip, which provides a credential for workers on jobsites, replacing RFID tags and badges for site entry and identification. These Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that attach to workers’ belts are synched to a worker profile in the Spot-r dashboard, where supervisors can manage worker certifications to ensure compliance with regulations, providing a higher level of control over who is and isn’t permitted to access a jobsite.

“Ensuring that only authorized people are on the jobsite is not only critical for security and safety but also for compliance,” said Pete Schermerhorn, Triax’s president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “For example, New York contractors need to ensure that workers have OSHA 30 training to comply with Local Law 196 or face stiff fines. The Spot-r Clip gives construction managers this certification information as soon as workers enter the site. It also helps to maintain security when work is taking place in public settings, like hospitals, schools, classified sites and other locations where day-to-day activities are in progress. By integrating access control with Triax’s proprietary network and wearable clip, contractors can not only control site entry and exit, but also monitor worker locations, providing peace of mind in these sensitive and secure environments.”

In addition to site entry and certification visibility, Spot-r offers real-time safety notifications, fall detection, evacuation alarms, and equipment tracking and utilization. With the ability to detect worker falls and communicate safety issues in real time, the company reports, construction firms can improve injury response times by 91 percent, reduce the amount of time required to evacuate jobsites by 72 percent and help safety leaders account for real-time worker location during an evacuation.

Spot-r with access control is an optional, turnkey solution that provides physical turnstiles, software, readers, Spot-r Clips and onsite services to set up Spot-r’s proprietary network and customize worker profiles. The clips are rechargeable, have a battery life of four to six months, and can be re-assigned to different workers as needed.

Zigbee Alliance Announces Initiative to Strengthen IoT Interoperability, Reliability, Security

The Zigbee Alliance has announced an ongoing initiative to make smart-home and IoT products easier to develop, deploy and sell across ecosystems. The All Hubs Initiative is driven by a Zigbee Alliance workgroup composed of such IoT companies as Amazon, Comcast, Exegin, Kwikset, Landis+Gyr, LEEDARSON, Legrand, MMB Networks, NXP Semiconductors, OSRAM, Schneider Electric, Silicon Labs, Somfy and others, with the goal of improving interoperability between IoT devices and major consumer and commercial platforms.

The product of this effort is a set of features at the application and network layers of Zigbee that will be incorporated into the upcoming 3.1 version of Zigbee technology. While Zigbee Alliance members are able to participate in this workgroup and contribute to and access these evolving specifications, the Alliance is publicly announcing this initiative as a number of smart-home systems will add these features to their platform certification requirements ahead of the ratification of the full 3.1 feature set.

“Consumers and businesses want connected devices that offer value and convenience, work great, and work together seamlessly,” said Chris DeCenzo, the chair of the All Hubs Initiative workgroup, the board director of the Zigbee Alliance, and a principal engineer at Amazon, in a prepared statement. “Through the All Hubs Initiative, leading IoT companies in the Zigbee Alliance are working together to define interoperability standards to help device makers innovate and expand selection while continuing to deliver consistent, reliable experiences for customers.”

IoT and smart-home ecosystems can vary in their supported features, business models, value propositions, customer experience expectations, security requirements and other factors. The Zigbee standard was designed to support this flexibility across offerings from Amazon, Samsung SmartThings, Philips Hue, IKEA and others, but this flexibility can create challenges for device vendors trying to build and market products that meet the requirements of different ecosystems.

“As innovation across the IoT continues to accelerate, device vendors need to ensure their products can adapt to the diverse and evolving requirements of multiple ecosystems, and reliably work across major IoT hubs,” said Tobin Richardson, the Zigbee Alliance’s president and CEO, in the prepared statement. “The All Hubs Initiative is not just an important effort in strengthening interoperability, but a phenomenal example of how global industry leaders and innovators come together within the Zigbee Alliance to share best practices and solve industry-wide challenges.”

The All Hubs Initiative is not a specific version of Zigbee technology, but rather a list of features that will contribute to the core Zigbee roadmap. They are a set of updates to the Zigbee specification at both the application and network layers that maintain the flexibility of Zigbee to meet diverse market needs, while improving interoperability. These improvements establish a method by which hubs can communicate their supported and required features to new devices that join their networks, as well as indicate how those devices should be configured. They standardize the process of commissioning and operating Zigbee devices based on the best practices and experience of Alliance member companies.

The updates will be part of Zigbee 3.1, the next iteration of the Zigbee standard, which is currently scheduled for release later this year. These updated features and Zigbee 3.1 will be backward-compatible with Zigbee 3.0-certified devices and hubs. Some ecosystems are participating in early implementations of the All Hubs Initiative’s features and may request that device vendors support these features as part of its Works With programs, ahead of the formal launch of Zigbee 3.1.

The project was envisioned in the fall of 2017 at the first Hive Executive IoT Summit organized by the Zigbee Alliance. These exclusive events take place annually around the globe to bring together individuals and organizations from across the IoT industry. Attendees represent companies from within and outside the Zigbee Alliance and include technology executives, visionaries and leaders from other standards bodies.

Tuya, Microsoft Collaborate to Power Smart-Home Products on Azure Cloud Platform

Tuya, an artificial intelligence and Internet of Things company, has announced a new partnership with Microsoft to deliver Tuya-powered smart-home and smart-office products on Microsoft’s Azure Cloud in the third quarter of this year. In addition to the cloud partnership, Microsoft and Tuya will cooperate on customer development, offering the Tuya AI + IoT platform and Azure Cloud platform as options for smart-home and smart-office device developers.

“Our partnership with Tuya aligns with Microsoft Azure’s goal of using the cloud and AI to build increasingly intelligent edge devices and solutions,” said Mark Linton, Microsoft’s general manager for consumer and device sales, in a prepared statement. “Tuya’s wide offering of customers and solutions immediately expands the connected systems and devices that make up the intelligent edge, boosting the power of smart devices in homes and offices.”

The partnership will provide Tuya with access to Azure’s five million enterprise customers, who will benefit from its AI- and IoT-based platform that is already powering lighting, appliances, and environmental and surveillance equipment. In return, Tuya’s more than 93,000 customers will now have more cloud options.

“We’re excited to be working with Microsoft to bring the benefits of Azure to our platform customers,” said Alex Yang, Tuya’s co-founder and COO, in the prepared statement. “Azure’s capability in providing storage, backup and recovery is a great benefit for any smart device we power, whether it be for the smart home or office.”

Global Market Insights Predicts Automotive NFC Market Will Be Worth $6 Billion by 2025

The automotive Near Field Communication (NFC) market size is set to exceed $6 billion by 2025, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights.

In this digital era, the firm reports, connected cars has emerged as a major change impacting the automobile ecosystem. Drivers expect their vehicles to be a digital extension of their lifestyle and customers want their automotive systems to be customized per their specific needs. Drivers are no longer considering cars as just a mode of transportation used for shopping and commuting to office places. Passenger cars are being viewed as a method to guide them to their required destinations, spot and report issues on the road, and provide parking assistance. Drivers are willing to embrace the paradigm shift in the automotive industry by seeking more advanced and personalized solutions, better suited for their driving needs and promoting the use of NFC solutions in automobiles.

Technological advancements in the connected-car landscape, coupled with the ever-rising need for saving time and maximizing productivity, are driving the penetration of IoT technology in the automotive market. Cars are being incorporated with IoT applications such as in-vehicle infotainment systems, predictive maintenance systems and dashboard reporting. The introduction of IoT systems in automobiles has been promoting the use of high-speed communication technologies that can offer faster data rates, response times, and secure vehicular communication.

NFC technology establishes a safe and secure communication channel when data is being transferred among automotive components, while preventing unauthorized access from external sources. One factor that has acted as a catalyst for the technology’s adoption over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the firm reports, is its faster connection establishment and response times. Automakers are leveraging on this attribute to provide simple “tap and go” functionality for features, such as car access and engine ignition, supplementing the growth of the automotive NFC market.

NFC components accounted for a 60 percent share in the automotive NFC market, according to Global Market Insights, which is attributed to the growing use of various multi-media-based devices such as video players and rear-view cameras in automobiles. The automotive landscape has been gradually shifting toward 424 Kbit/S due to the influx of highly interconnected automotive components. These products are fully compliant with the requirement for fast and highly secure data transmission and flexible infrastructure. Such products adhere to all open global standards for air interface and cryptographic methods, making it a safe and highly reliable alternative for OEMs and automotive players to enhance their product performance without compromising the safety and security of the data being transmitted.

High-end vehicles in the automotive NFC market will register a growth rate of more than 31 percent over the forecast timeline, the firm predicts. The rising incorporation of smart driving applications into high-end passenger cars is transforming the automobile landscape by improving security and enhancing the driver experience. The use of NFC technology has played a key role in augmenting the driver experience, bringing personalized entertainment and connected infrastructure to the car environment. Automotive suppliers and car manufacturers are forming tie-ups with prominent automakers to develop customized NFC solutions for their automobiles.

The interior application held more than 71 percent revenue share in the automotive NFC market in 2018, according to the report. This market includes infotainment system, air-conditioning, engine access and ADAS communication interfaces. The interior application of NFC technology is used from low-end to high-end vehicles. The NFC technology is used for various interior applications, such as communication support, the interaction between a driver and car, and information retrieval. The ability of NFC technology to simplify the pairing process is the primary factor driving its usage in the automotive landscape. Without the use of NFC technology, it requires more than eight different interactions to establish the first connection between a car and a smart device. The use of NFC technology substitutes these transactions with a single transaction that only requires the NFC device to be held over an automobile’s NFC dashboard.

The North American automotive NFC market will attain a CAGR greater than 32 percent over the projected time period, the report indicates, due to the introduction of various road-safety guidelines mandating the use of ADAS systems. Automakers in the region are incorporating smart driving features into automobiles, which has generated a myriad of opportunities in the integration of NFC solutions in vehicles.