RFID News Roundup

Smartrac offers RFID transponders for industrial and animal ID applications; STMicroelectronics intros small-form-factor development boards; CAP-XX acquires Murata's supercapacitor production lines; LORIOT unveils new LoRaWAN professional network servers; Semtech, Wilhelmsen, The Things Industries partner on LoRa-based IoT connectivity solutions.
Published: December 12, 2019

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
CAP-XX, Murata;
Semtech, Wilhelmsen, and The Things Industries.

Smartrac Offers RFID Transponders for Industrial and Animal ID Applications

Smartrac Technology Group, a provider of in RFID products and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, has announced the launch of its Glass Tag Thermosensor product. The low-frequency RFID transponder offers temperature-sensing and identification capabilities for a variety of industrial items and animals, according to the company.

The Glass Tag Thermosensor, the latest addition to Smartrac’s LF Glass Tag product range, is suitable for implants and for use in liquids and vacuums. Its biocompatible glass capsule can withstand high-temperature or high-acidity conditions and other demanding industrial environments. It thus covers the application areas of existing Glass Tag products, the firm reports, while providing accurate and reliable temperature sensing and storing without the need for a dedicated battery-powered sensor or data logger.

In cold chain or industrial environments, this passive sensing product can wirelessly measure the temperature inside closed bins, jars or chambers, Smartrac indicates, whether the items to be monitored are in manufacturing facilities, laboratories or containers in transit. Similarly, pet owners and laboratory operators can identify animals and monitor their body temperature.

The only precondition, Smartrac notes, is the availability of a reader that can display the temperature information provided by the Excelio EL9265 IC. The chip offers 2048 bits of EEPROM, including 1,760 bits of user memory that can be used for storing up to 50 temperature measurements. Systems integrator customers receive information to calibrate, calculate and display the temperature in the readers they use.

The tag has an overall operating temperature of -25 degrees to +85 degrees Celsius and a storage temperature of -40 degrees to +85 degrees. The product allows user-specific calibration of the preferred temperature range for improved accuracy, which can be as high as ±0.05 degrees.

“With the new Glass Tag Thermosensor, we are combining two of Smartrac’s particular strengths: experience in developing durable and very reliable glass transponders and our expertise in passive (no-battery) single-chip sensor solutions,” said Robert Blaschke, Smartrac’s director of business line animal ID components, in a prepared statement. “[The] Glass Tag Thermosensor provides the market with the superior identification and temperature measurement capabilities it has been asking for.”

The tag is available for volume delivery with a form factor of 2.12 millimeters by 12 millimeters, two frequency options (134.2 kHz and 125 kHz for industrial applications), several personalization options (e.g. ISO 11784/85), and an optional Parylene coating. Volume delivery is expected to begin this month. Smartrac is in the process of being acquired by Avery Dennison, and the new tag will be among the products Avery will then own.

STMicroelectronics Intros Small-Form-Factor Development Boards

STMicroelectronics has announced that it is making design starts using 8-bit STM8 microcontrollers (MCUs) faster, more affordable and more accessible, by introducing new development boards in the Nucleo-32 form factor. The boards are controlled and powered via a USB connection.

An ST-LINK debugger-programmer is integrated, which the company says saves users from having to use an external debug probe and allows drag-and-drop Flash programming. Arduino Nano pins simplify functional expansion using off-the-shelf shields and let users connect with open-source hardware communities. The boards are supported by development toolchains including IAR Embedded Workbench for STM8 and Cosmic CXSTM8.

STM8 MCUs feature an 8-bit core, up to 128 kilobytes of Flash memory and peripherals shared with the STM32 MCU family, such as timers, analog peripherals, CAN2.0B and digital interfaces. The STM8 MCUs can be used to create smart sensors, actuators and other products with tight power, space and cost constraints, the company reports.

The first available STM8 Nucleo-32 board, the NUCLEO-8S207K8, contains a 32-pin STM8S207K8 MCU, which provides features including 12 high-current outputs and multiple capture-compare channels. The NUCLEO-8S207K8 is ready to order now for $10.32, from distributors or directly from ST. “These STM8 boards deliver tiny form factor systems with expansion capability which run at very low-power: these combined features facilitate the creation of smart sensor nodes,” said Laurent Hanus, of the company’s Microcontroller Division, in a prepared statement.

CAP-XX Acquires Murata’s Supercapacitor Production Lines

CAP-XX, a provider of supercapacitors that provide power to support or replace batteries, has announced it will acquire CAP-XX licensee Murata‘s supercapacitor production lines. CAP-XX plans to relocate the lines from Japan to a new factory in Sydney, Australia, in stages between March and June 2020, and will begin producing Murata’s three supercapacitor product families in the third quarter of next year. Murata will assist in introducing CAP-XX to its customers.

Murata licensed CAP-XX’s patents in 2008, began production of supercapacitors in Japan in 2013, and has since built its supercapacitor business. After a strategic review of its business in 2018, Murata informed CAP-XX that it wanted to focus on its multilayer ceramic capacitors and lithium batteries, and to exit some of its non-core business lines, including supercapacitors. Consequently, the two companies reached an agreement for CAP-XX to acquire Murata’s high-quality production lines. The companies have been working together to ensure the successful relocation of these production lines, and for CAP-XX to be able to produce supercapacitors identical to those made by Murata.

In a prepared statement, CAP-XX said it considers this an opportunity to acquire modern, state-of-the-art production equipment from Murata, whose production lines are newer and more efficient, and have greater capacity than CAP-XX’s own machines. The company expects the acquisition to increase its sales and reduce its direct production costs. CAP-XX says it plans to maintain Murata’s existing pricing on Murata’s small, thin DMF, DMT and DMH supercapacitor product families.

The DMT supercapacitor is suited for extreme applications such as solid-state drives and automotive applications, the compay reports. Due to its thinness, it can be assembled onto printed circuit boards (PCBs). DMF, a general-purpose supercapacitor with a low ESR and a wider operating voltage range, is suitable for high-brightness LED flash, high-power audio, smart meters and more. The DMH supercapacitor is suited for smartphones, smart credit cards, wearables, 3V coin cell battery applications and other thin Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

“We look forward to serving Murata’s customers,” said Anthony Kongats, CAP-XX’s CEO, in the prepared statement, “and are committed to providing the same high-quality, low-cost products that they enjoy today.”

LORIOT Unveils New LoRaWAN Professional Network Servers

LORIOT has announced that it is deploying three of its regional Professional Public Servers to expand the largest LoRaWAN public infrastructure worldwide. The new servers will support three main regions in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, and will be dedicated exclusively to professional users, offering a 99.9 percent SLA, built-in redundancy and four connectivity plans.

With a total of 16 geographically distributed public servers, LORIOT says it operates the largest LoRaWAN public infrastructure available worldwide. The three new regional servers have been deployed in Oregon (US3 PRO), the Netherlands (EU4 PRO) and Singapore (AP4 PRO), to offer low-latency connectivity to professional users. LORIOT has launched a new SaaS business model with monthly pricing and features built for business customers: full-featured LoRaWAN network server; a 99.9 percent up-time guarantee; an unlimited number of gateways and messages; a multi-tenant team environment; and four plans ranging from 500 to 2,500 devices.

“This service was created by listening to our customers,” said Julian Studer, LORIOT’s co-founder and COO/CFO, in a prepared statement. “Our public server freemium model, based on pay-per-use pricing, was no longer enough for some of our customers who were asking us for more: an uptime guarantee, advanced features such as the ability to manage teams and a certain price. We’ve already tested it on the market with great feedback and are now ready to launch it on a global scale.”

“We are very excited about the launch of this offer that we are sure will have a great response in the market,” added Yannik Kopp, LORIOT’s head of sales and business development, in the prepared statement. “In defining the plans we thought about the needs of a startup that must be able to guarantee its first customers the reliability of the solution but at the same time can not afford the costs of a private network server. We imagined following its growth and so the names of the 4 packages were born.”

Semtech, Wilhelmsen, The Things Industries Partner on LoRa-based IoT Connectivity Solutions

Semtech, a supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors and algorithms, has partnered with Wilhelmsen and The Things Industries (TTI) to leverage Semtech’s LoRa devices to deliver Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to the maritime shipping industry. TTI is providing the LoRa-based network and connectivity for Wilhemlsen’s IoT solutions. Wilhelmsen selected Semtech’s LoRa devices as the foundation for its new global 2.4 GHz maritime IoT network.

“We have evaluated wireless solutions for decades to deliver efficiencies at land and sea. The technology solution of choice needed key capabilities to revolutionize our strategy – long range, low power and a strong open ecosystem,” said Jon Helge Ulstein, Wilhelmsen’s senior project manager, in a prepared statement. “This new system is expected to benefit our customers immediately and is a step towards autonomous vessels and industry 4.0. Spearheaded by Wilhelmsen’s ship management division, this new IoT platform will be utilized to deliver among other things digital condition monitoring, asset tracking and logistical applications. This goes hand in hand with the group’s onboard app store project, ShipOS, headed by RaaLabs.”

The global maritime shipping industry is expected to register a CAGR of 16.82 percent during the forecast period of 2019 to 2024. With this expected market growth, Wilhemlsen, a global maritime industry group that serves 20,000 vessels out of 2,200 ports in some 70 countries and handles more than 220 000 product deliveries a year, is deploying the new LoRa-based connectivity in its operations to improve efficiencies and will also offer its customers connected IoT solutions.

Traditionally, sensor data on ships is carried through wired systems or is managed via periodic manual readings. However, the company explains, LoRa-based wireless sensors can monitor many variables, including condition of machinery, fuel efficiency, environmental metrics and cargo, and this data is used to conduct preventive maintenance. An established tool in the onshore manufacturing sector, predictive maintenance decreases the risk of vessel idle time, due to repair or incidents. In addition, the system can optimize the performance of processes, reducing manpower, waste and cost.

The IoT platform allows Wilhelmsen to tap into a global ecosystem of vendors and service providers, providing access to a marketplace of certified sensors, hardware designers, systems integrators and application developers. “We are excited to be a partner in this important project,” said Wienke Giezeman, TTI’s CEO, in the prepared statement, “and we are looking forward to working with the broader LoRaWAN ecosystem to make this a success for Wilhelmsen and the maritime industry.”

“Wilhelmsen’s rich history of industry expertise and innovation, combined with Semtech’s proven LoRa devices, offers its customers a flexible ecosystem to deliver robust and cost-effective IoT solutions to transform the maritime industry,” added Marc Pegulu, the VP of Semtech’s Sensing Products Group, in the prepared statement. “Our work with Wilhelmsen showcases the flexible, proven and scalable capabilities of LoRa in a variety of industries and verticals.”