RFID News Roundup

JADAK integrates RFID communication interface into its products ••• Frost & Sullivan names Smartrac RFID Global Solutions Company of the Year ••• Harting Technology Group unveils IIoT and automation technologies ••• Infineon intros IoT cloud localization services and security solutions ••• ABI Research reports auto makers leading smart manufacturing advances ••• Startup  Robolab raises funding to develop RFID-capable AI robot bartender ••• Rigado gateway uses Amazon Web Services IoT features, Bluetooth sensors.
Published: December 6, 2018

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Frost & Sullivan, Smartrac Technology Group;
Harting Technology Group;
ABI Research;
Robolab; and

JADAK Integrates RFID Communication Interface Into Its Products

JADAK, a business unit of Novanta Corp., has announced two new products to its ThingMagic RFID portfolio: the Elara plug-and-play USB reader and the EL6e smart module. These new products, based on the company’s ThingMagic Nano module, are designed to simplify RFID integration by adding interface and operability features that allow engineers to minimize design efforts and implement RFID in any application requiring mid- or short-range read distance.

Both products feature autonomous workflows permitting the rapid creation of solutions without RFID expertise, the use of SDKs and integration tools. They support a new interface between applications and RFID readers, known as the RAIN Communication Interface (RCI).

The RCI and the Elara and EL6e products are intended to provide automation and efficiency in various markets. “The JADAK RFID team continues to take an active leadership role in the RAIN Alliance,” said Janie Goddard, JADAK’s president, in a prepared statement, “by co-developing the RAIN Communication Interface and introducing these new products, as an effort to unify the industry and lower the barriers for technology adoption.”

The product’s availability is expected to be announced in January 2019. Both the EL6e and Elara were demonstrated at an RAIN Alliance group meeting held in Xiamen, China, on Dec. 4-6.

Frost & Sullivan Names Smartrac RFID Global Solutions Company of the Year

Consulting and research company Frost & Sullivan has designated Smartrac Technology Group as the Company of the Year in the global RFID solutions market. Frost & Sullivan declared the RFID and Internet of Things (IoT) firm to have “the best strategy for successful market growth and to hold the leadership position in the RFID industry.”

Frost & Sullivan lauded Smartrac as a product digitization leader with a commitment to providing customer value, and deemed the company’s Smart Cosmos solutions platform an important innovation, noting that the firm is “setting new digital standards through consumer experience innovation.” According to Frost & Sullivan, this was underlined by recent milestones in Smartrac’s corporate history, such as its launch of the Telstar 18, Adidas’ NFC-enabled 2018 FIFA World Cup ball, as well as its strategic partnership with the Alibaba Group, intended to strengthen brand-protection strategies. This year’s accolade follows two Frost & Sullivan awards last year, honoring Smart Cosmos for its consumer experience innovation, and Smartrac as Europe Company of the Year for its RFID technology solutions.

“As recognized by Frost & Sullivan, the retail market is one large contributor to RFID growth, and with our focus on solutions for branded product manufacturers and retailers, we feel particularly reassured and encouraged by this award,” said Christian Uhl, Smartrac’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “We will leverage that impetus to provide all our customers worldwide and across all industries with additional best-in-class solutions for enhanced customer experience and brand protection.”

Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Smartrac provides scalable RFID-based IoT solutions. The company’s standard and customized RFID and IoT portfolio provides products with a secure digital identity, and enables connectivity between goods, parts and components. Smartrac’s solutions portfolio is used in a wide array of applications across all industries, according to the company.

To receive the Company of the Year Award, a company must demonstrate excellence in growth, innovation and leadership. This typically translates to high performance in demand generation, brand development and competitive positioning. These areas serve as the foundation of a firm’s future success, the company explains, and prepare it to deliver on two main criteria: visionary innovation, as well as performance and customer impact.

Harting Technology Group Unveils IIoT and Automation Technologies

At this year’s SPS IPC Drives trade fair, held in Nuremberg on Nov. 27-29, the Harting Technology Group showcased several new connectivity products and solutions for smart and digital automation. Among them were two new miniaturized Ethernet interfaces: the ix Industrial and IEC 61076-3-124 models. At the event, Harting used an example production process to demonstrate how powerful connectivity for transmitting data, power and signals simplifies interaction between the IIoT and automation. Harting also demonstrated its PushPull locking technology.

According to Harting, PushPull technology is becoming increasingly important since, as connectors become smaller and smaller, previously known locking techniques such as screw locking will no longer be adequate. At the trade show, Harting presented the next product in its PushPull portfolio, known as Dr. Metrix.

Harting’s Han-Modular Flexbox makes it possible to supply the linearly moving components of machines and systems, and represents a new interface in the firm’s modular plastic housing system. According to the company, the Flexbox is intended to make it easier for users to install and maintain longer, moving cable runs for machines and machine modules.

With the Han ES Press HMC series, Harting has developed interfaces that can be installed quickly without tools and can withstand at least 10,000 mating cycles. The Han ES Press series offers high resistance to vibration, and is designed to reduce installation and connection times for consumers in comparison to conventional cage clamps, screw connections and hard-wiring techniques.

The company introduced other products at the event as well. Visit Harting’s website for more information.

Infineon Intros IoT Cloud Localization Services and Security Solutions

Infineon Technologies has announced the availability of its hardened security solutions for Amazon Web Services’ Internet of Things (AWS IoT) Greengrass, based on the OPTIGA family of hardware security solutions. Infineon is one of the initial companies to offer a suite of solutions for hardening security across the spectrum of connected devices on AWS IoT, either at the edge or at endpoints. The firm’s security solutions for the IoT comprise OPTIGA TPM 2.0 SLB9670 for edge applications and OPTIGA Trust X for endpoints.

AWS IoT Greengrass is software that lets users securely run local computing, messaging, data caching, synching and machine-learning inference capabilities for connected devices. With AWS IoT Greengrass, connected devices can run AWS Lambda functions, keep device data in synch and communicate with other devices securely, even when not connected to the Internet.

“New reference designs from Infineon design will allow customers to effortlessly integrate AWS IoT solutions with Infineon’s microcontrollers and security chips,” said Joerg Borchert, Infineon Americas’ VP of digital security solutions, in a prepared statement. “This will allow for fast development times for hassle-free integration, offering enhanced security for IoT and Industry 4.0 devices connected to an AWS IoT Greengrass-enabled device instead of the cloud.”

According to the company, both new and existing AWS IoT Greengrass customers operating in a range of industries, such as government services, health care and industrial manufacturing, can benefit from the security solutions offered by Infineon and AWS. Infineon’s Trusted Platform Module (TPM) SLB9670 features a fully TCG TPM 2.0 standard-compliant module.

The SLB9670 features a TCG-compliant SPI interface to facilitate integration with micro architectures, and offers application-level security, secure software-over-the-air updates and TPM root of trust. The SLB9760 security controller can be mounted on an OPTIGA TPM2.0 Linux development board, which can be integrated on Raspberry Pi 3 boards. The OPTIGA Trust X security controller is a turnkey security solution for IoT devices. It is available as a ready-to-use Infineon evaluation board equipped with a 32-bit XMC4800 microcontroller.

ABI Research Reports Auto Makers Leading Smart Manufacturing Advances

The adoption of smart manufacturing technologies is growing in almost all industries within leading manufacturing countries, such as the United States, Japan and Germany, and the automotive industry has been a pioneer for most technologies in each nation, according to a new report released by ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on transformative technologies. The report is titled “Smart Manufacturing in Automotive.”

“The automotive industry has been a pioneer in adopting many transformative technologies because it has more of a need and a demand to increase flexibility and agility,” said Pierce Owen, a principal analyst at ABI Research, in a prepared statement. These technologies include additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, collaborative robotics and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms. According to the report, some of the leading automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Audi, Volkswagen, Ford, Honda, Daimler and BMW, have piloted and, in some cases, scaled these technologies.

In terms of overall automation, while most industries have automated 20 to 30 percent of their operations, the automotive industry has automated closer to 50 percent of operations. This has resulted in more real-time operational data made available to automotive OEMs and their suppliers. Some OEMs use 3D printers for customized or low-volume production parts.

Smart manufacturing vendors targeting the automotive sector have already seen high levels of progress, ABI Research reports. Dassault Systèmes has Honda North America using DELMIA to design and simulate its plant floors before building them, and works with Cummins on the execution side. Telit also works with Honda North America, connecting its equipment. In addition, Telit works with BMW as a client in its factories in Africa and the United States, and has Ford as a client with factories spread around the globe. EOS sells 3D printers to BMW, Audi and Daimler, while Universal Robots sells robots to 90 percent of all OEMs, and more to suppliers.

To meet the complex demands of the automotive industry and scale adoption, the research indicates, smart manufacturing technology vendors need to understand the automotive industry’s challenges, offer solutions with business cases and have a stakeholder management strategy for all involved parties.

“As in many other industries, automotive manufacturing faces the challenges of bridging the gap between IT and OT and providing low-code or no-code tools for content creation, app development, and logic configuration,” Owen said in the prepared statement. “Technology vendors targeting the automotive manufacturing industry need to understand that while automotive shares many challenges with other industries, it often takes them to extremes. For example, while all industries struggle right now to deploy new technologies and integrate them with current processes, the magnitude and complexity in automotive manufacturing present greater risks. One minute of downtime in automotive can cost tens of thousands of U.S. dollars.”

If smart manufacturing vendors wish to scale solutions and platforms in the automotive sector, they must guarantee and prove they can provide value, the report indicates. “Automotive manufacturing deals with relatively high-value, high-volume and high-complexity products,” Owen said in the prepared statement. “Neither automotive OEMs nor their suppliers will take gambles on unproven technologies when it comes to their production lines. Vendors must define, prioritize, prove and present their business case before approaching this sector. If they can do so and show potential automotive clients exactly how to implement and integrate their technology without disrupting production, this market will adopt and scale the solution.”

Startup  Robolab Raises Funding to Develop RFID-Capable AI Robot Bartender

Robolab, a service robotics startup based in Estonia, has closed its second seed investment round of €650,000 to build an AI-powered robot bartender called Yanu. The company offers RFID as a payment option, or the technology can be tied to a user’s recognition system—for instance, a nightclub loyalty and payment card, or for similar uses. The prototype will be ready within a month, the company reports, then will proceed to the testing stage. According to Robolab, the first machines will soon be up and running for commercial use, and the firm anticipates that its initial clients will incorporate RFID technology.

Yanu is a portable, fully autonomous bartending unit utilizing AI technology to make the process of serving drinks more efficient and precise. The robotic bartender takes orders, processes payments, and mixes and serves cocktails, nearly without human personnel. Yanu also utilizes chatbot technology, allowing the unit to communicate with clients, remember their drink preferences and offer local sightseeing tips.

Funded by angel investors and the Nostro Capital fund, Robolab will run an ICO with a $10 million hardcap from October of this year, to build community and raise additional money for scaling up production. Angel investors who fund the project by more than $150,000 will be among the first owners of Yanu, and will receive tokens to purchase beverages that will work on any of the devices. Purchases made via tokens will receive a substantial discount.

“For us, this a great opportunity to build our global community and let retail investors be part of our growth story, plus blockchain enables us to solve several problems,” said Alan Adojaan, Robolab’s CEO, in a prepared statement. Yanu is designed to solve bottlenecks in the hospitality and entertainment sectors, such as rising labor costs, human error, high staff turnover and a lack of sufficient training, while returning valuable square footage back to business owners. Due to Yanu’s complete automation, it can reduce cost per drink by serving 100 to 150 drinks per hour. A similar performance would otherwise require up to four full-time workers, Robolab claims.

The first robots are expected to hit the market in early 2019. Yanu will initially be distributed at airports, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues globally, as well as on cruise ships. A video of the machine is available here.

Rigado Gateway Uses Amazon Web Services IoT Features, Bluetooth Sensors

Rigado has announced that its Cascade IoT Gateway, running Canonical‘s secure Ubuntu Core operating system, has been integrated with the newly released Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Greengrass features, offering teams a mechanism to get Bluetooth-based data to their cloud applications. According to the company, Internet of Things (IoT) applications and solutions using Bluetooth sensors have a seamless and efficient path from devices to the cloud, with little to no coding required.

This new functionality combines the scalability of AWS IoT Greengrass edge computing with the flexibility of Bluetooth connectivity, the company reports, and is provided as part of Rigado’s edge-as-a-service Cascade IoT Gateway. The direct connection from the Bluetooth sensor to the cloud is made possible via the integration of AWS IoT Greengrass and Rigado’s Edge Connect on the Cascade gateway. It provides the ability to interact with Bluetooth devices using Rigado’s REST APIs via AWS Lambda.

AWS IoT Greengrass Connectors, a new feature of AWS IoT Greengrass, allows applications to connect to AWS services, including Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) and Amazon CloudWatch. This allows for a full data chain with little to no coding required.

“For those working in Commercial IoT development using AWS, this is the very first time a full IoT recipe kit using Bluetooth has been made easily accessible,” said Ben Corrado, Rigado’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “This brings customers the ability to run AWS IoT Greengrass at the edge with commercial-grade orchestration tools for large-scale, production IoT solutions. This is critical for commercial IoT as the development in that space requires a unique mix of edge connectivity and computing at scale. Bringing AWS IoT Greengrass and Bluetooth 5 easily together gives developers the tools needed to make that happen.”

With Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), particularly Bluetooth 5 with its longer-range capability, rapidly gaining popularity in commercial IoT devices used for sensing, monitoring and asset tracking, this new combined solution comes at a critical time, the company report. IoT teams building applications with thousands or millions of Bluetooth devices can now leverage AWS IoT Greengrass to process data and trigger actions from those endpoints.

“When you look at what is required to introduce commercial IoT solutions at scale, you see a clear need for direct and secure connections from the device to the cloud,” said Tom Canning, Canonical’s VP of global sales for the IoT and devices, in the prepared statement. “Bringing edge security and scalability to the elastic computing power of AWS IoT Greengrass is both exciting and crucial as it helps achieve that needed functionality.”