RFID News Roundup

Smartrac offers UHF RFID beer keg tags; JADAK unveils RFID starter kit; HID Global helps BigWise add fingerprint biometric authentication to POS solution; Traxens selects AVSystem IoT platform for smart container management; Nordic Semiconductor intros modem based on its LTE-M/NB-IoT SiP; Thingstream launches connectivity solution for LoRaWAN networks; OptConnect adds Banyan Hills Technologies' IoT platform canopy to its development kits.
Published: October 31, 2019

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
HID Global, BigWise;
Traxens, AVSystem;
Nordic Semiconductor;
OptConnect, and Banyan Hills Technologies.

Smartrac Offers UHF RFID Beer Keg Tags

Smartrac Technology Group, a provider of RFID products and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, has announced the launch of its MAXDURA KEG tag product line. Available as UHF and dual-frequency (UHF and NFC) tags, and for adhesive mounting or PU embedding, Smartrac’s new hard tags are intended for identifying and tracking beverage kegs, gas cylinders and other curved metal returnable transport items (RTI) under bulk reading conditions.

With its MAXDURA KEG products, Smartrac says it has addressed the drawbacks of conventional RFID tags for curved metal RTIs: reading failures in multiple-unit environments, tag damage during production, distribution and maintenance processes such as cleaning, and forklift handling. To avoid these problems, the tags are designed to withstand harsh treatment.

The base version MAXDURA KEG and the dual-frequency version MAXDURA KEG DUAL are encased hard tags that are permanently glued to the inner face of a keg’s collar. In that way, the company explains, they are protected, do not interfere with hand transport and allow a lifting rod to be inserted. This tag placement allows for 100 percent reading rates, according to Smartrac, even when palettes or trucks containing up to 50 kegs pass a UHF RFID gate. The tags’ UHF antennas are built to deliver maximum reading performance when placed about 15 to 20 millimeters from the handling hole.

For kegs with polyurethane (PU) covers, Smartrac offers its MAXDURA KEG EMBEDDED tags, which come as printed circuit boards (PCBs) without a casing. These are optimized for embedding or inserting into the PU, the company explains, which then acts as a casing.

The tags’ NFC functionality enables various options, the company reports. Keg suppliers can connect with customers and provide them with a multitude of mobile digital experiences at the tap of a smartphone. NFC enables innkeepers, retailers or other customers to access keg ID data, which was formerly provided through low-frequency tags, via a smartphones and without the need for dedicated handheld readers.

All MAXDURA KEG tags come with Impinj’s Monza R6-P ICs, which comply with the EPC Class 1 Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards and protocols. The chips provide up to 96 bits of EPC memory and 96 bits of serialized TID with a 48-bit serial number. Dual-frequency tags are equipped with NXP’s SLIX ICODE SLIX2 IC, featuring up to 316 bytes of user memory, which complies with the NFC Forum’s Type 5 specifications and the ISO 15693 standards.

Smartrac’s “glue-on” MAXDURA KEG and MAXDURA KEG DUAL tags have a compact ABS casings and are prepared for adhesive fitting. MAXDURA KEG EMBEDDED tags are available either as plain PCBs or equipped with mounting devices for diverse manufacturing or retrofitting processes. Additional accessories, an applicator gun and special glue are available from Smartrac.

Smartrac’s partner, Wilms Supply Chain Technologies of Melle-Buer, Germany, supported the development of the new hard tags and is one of the first to provide turnkey solutions for the beverage industry based on the tags. Wilms has secured private brewery Gaffel Becker, one of Germany’s largest suppliers of draught beer, as a pilot customer for the retrofitting of its PU kegs with MAXDURA KEG EMBEDDED tags.

All MAXDURA KEG tags are expected to be available in high volumes next month.

JADAK Unveils RFID Starter Kit

JADAK, a business unit of Novanta Corp., has announced its ThingMagic RAIN Starter Kit, developed in collaboration with Impinj and the RAIN RFID Alliance. The starter kit is intended to increase exposure and access to RFID technology, provide a platform for students and hobbyists to learn how to apply this technology, and promote best practices for using RFID.

“It’s important for JADAK to support the adoption of RAIN RFID by increasing access to the technology for students and non-professional developers who will become the future innovators of the Internet of Things,” said Harinath Reddy, JADAK’s senior director of research and development for ThingMagic RFID, in a prepared statement.

The starter kit consists of a ThingMagic reader and sample RFID tags from RAIN RFID Alliance members. The kit provides item connectivity via Impinj’s Indy R500 RFID reader chip and sample tags enabled by Monza tag chips, as well as functionality per Alliance developer community guidelines. For professional applications, JADAK’s ThingMagic EL6e Smart Module and Elara USB Plug-and-Play Reader provide a fuller set of features and higher levels of performance.

The starter kit is being distributed by atlasRFIDstore.com, a global distributor of RFID hardware.

HID Global Helps BigWise Add Fingerprint Biometric Authentication to POS Solution

HID Global, a provider of trusted identity solutions, has enabled BigWise to provide biometrics functionality to its retail and restaurant customers. BigWise moved from concept to a pilot of its new biometric-enabled Stellar POS (point of sale) platform at a major customer within 30 days using HID’s DigitalPersona Fingerprint Biometric solution.

“HID’s fingerprint biometric solution significantly shortened our path for adding secure fingerprint biometric authentication services to our Stellar POS platform,” said Jose Rivas, BigWise’s founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. “We were able to move very quickly to give our customers valuable new capabilities for stopping internal theft and fraud while simplifying employee access to the POS terminal. We expect our lead customer to roll out this new biometric-enabled Stellar POS solution in their operations in the very near future and are excited about the product’s broader market opportunities for us.”

Utilizing the DigitalPersona biometric software development tools, BigWise added fingerprint biometrics to its POS offering within a span of weeks. The new solution allows customers to choose a fingerprint biometric reader that best meets their requirements, including the DigitalPersona 4500 and EikonTouch readers. With the addition of fingerprint biometrics, the company report, Stellar POS enables organizations to log in to their POS terminals, as well as stop labor hour fraud and POS theft due to unauthorized manager overrides and approvals.

“We are pleased to have helped BigWise complete this biometric authentication pilot and shorten time to market for its exciting new offering,” said Wladimir Alvarez, HID Global’s senior director of sales in the company’s Extended Access Technology Business Unit, in the prepared statement. “In addition to securing their POS systems, DigitalPersona fingerprint biometrics finally allows BigWise customers to eliminate their dependence on insecure and costly passwords and swipe cards.”

Stellar POS provides an end-to-end solution from store floor or restaurant counter, the company reports, through the full range of inventory, logistics and production processes, and makes it easier to manage offers and promotions, loyalty programs, and accounting and treasury operations. BigWise sells the Stellar POS solution primarily in Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Traxens Selects AVSystem IoT Platform for Smart Container Management

Traxens, a provider of data and services for the supply chain industry, and AVSystem, which provides Internet of Things (IoT) device-management solutions, have announced a partnership that enables the management of asset trackers with the Coiote IoT Device Management platform. Traxens offers real-time insight into organizations’ global supply chains in such industries as shipping or aviation, by using devices that track containers transported on vessels, airplanes or trains. The trackers, through the use of the LwM2M protocol, will be able to perform firmware and software upgrades over-the-air, as well as offer information related to geolocation, temperature and other conditions in the environment surrounding the containers.

Ensuring connectivity for assets that travel by sea and that can’t have the batteries changed proved to be problematic, the firm explains, and meant that telemetry and firmware upgrades designed for low-power assets became the key requirements for Traxens’ business. These challenges were addressed through the use of Lightweight M2M protocol-device management and telemetry technology.

“What’s unique about Lightweight M2M is that it’s constantly evolving, yet at the same time preserving its lightweightedness,” said Borys Godowski, AVSystem’ sales director, in a prepared statement. “With its 1.1 version, we were introduced to fundamental changes, such as new transport bindings like TCP or non-ip data delivery featuring 3GPP CIoT, as well as LoRaWAN. A new 1.2 release is already being planned and includes even more enhancements and optimizations; suffice it to say, it will surely secure LwM2M’s position as a strong challenger among IoT standards for telemetry and device management.”

Using AVSystem’s IoT device-management platform and utilizing the LwM2M protocol allows Traxens to prolong the battery life of its devices, the company reports, and to enable efficient performance, even in difficult conditions and over potentially unstable networks. Furthermore, using OMA SpecWorks’ standard allows Traxens to avoid vendor lock-in and the IoT device-management side of its business to be future-oriented.

“Our internal evaluation showed beyond a doubt that LwM2M is a future-proof standard worth adopting,” said Lucas Moulin, Traxens’ program and solution director, in the prepared statement. “Moreover, during vendor-selection process, AVSystem demonstrated best-of-breed product that’s ready to use thanks to its strong device auto-discovery features. What’s more, with the Coiote IoT Device Management platform, all device-management processes have become automated, which saved time and allowed us to focus on other areas of our business.”

Nordic Semiconductor Intros Modem Based on Its LTE-M/NB-IoT SiP

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that cellular Internet of Things (IoT) products and applications can now be brought to market within days using the first publicly announced third-party modem to be based on Nordic’s multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT nRF9160 system-in-package (SiP). Known as the Skywire Nano, the NimbeLink modem enables this by achieving end-device certification for use on both LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular IoT networks worldwide. This means any product or application using the modem need not go through the normal carrier certification process.

“Nordic Semiconductor has always been known as the low-power leader in wireless radios,” said Kurt Larson, NimbeLink’s CTO, in a prepared statement. “And the nRF9160 SiP clearly exhibits the company’s ‘low-power-first’ mentality during its design process, resulting in a cellular SiP that is leaps ahead of any product offered by all the other cellular IoT providers in terms of its miniaturized size and low power consumption. The Skywire Nano leverages this to the max to achieve the tiniest 15 x 22 x 5mm (estimated) form-factor and lowest power consumption of any cellular IoT modem available on the market today.”

“We also really liked the way the Nordic nRF9160 DK design kit enabled us to embed our own code within the nRF9160’s on-board 64MHz Arm Cortex-M33 applications processor in an extremely low-power way,” Larson added. “By that, I mean other vendors provide applications processors, but their SDKs are not as streamlined as the Nordic nRF9160 DK and can’t reach the same low-power states.”

The Skywire Nano provides access to the Nordic nRF9160’s Arm Cortex-M33 CPU with 1 MB of flash and 256 KB of RAM. It has UART, SPI and I2C serial interfaces; a soldered-down Verizon SIM; support for external SIM sockets; a firmware over-the-air (OTA) update system; a GSMA network back-off solution; AT command interface for UDP and TCP/IP socket dials; and GNSS support.

NimbeLink says customers can select their own antenna (within broad guidelines) for use with its modem without affecting its pre-certified status. “This means if a customer isn’t happy with the performance,” Larson said, “they can use a different antenna or put the antenna in a better place within their product or application.” NimbeLink says its Skywire Nano modem will be available during the first quarter of next year.

“Third-party modems make a lot of sense when existing production volumes have yet to scale and in situations where a company wants to test market acceptance before investing further design resources,” said Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor’s director of sales and marketing, in the prepared statement. “But above all else, cellular IoT modems further simplify the already simple design process Nordic Semiconductor works so hard to achieve in all its products, and so are a valuable option in the highly diversified global IoT market.”

Thingstream Launches Connectivity Solution for LoRaWAN Networks

Thingstream, a low-power MQTT network provider in the field of unified sensor data connectivity and aggregation, has announced the launch of MQTT Here, a service for private LoRaWAN networks intended to complement its existing global cellular low-power connectivity offering, MQTT Anywhere.

MQTT Here combines hosted, scalable LoRaWAN network server components with Thingstream’s industrial MQTT Broker and Data Flow Manager, which offers data pre-processing and integration into mainstream IoT and enterprise systems, including those from IBM, Bosch, Software AG, TIBCO, Siemens and other providers. These tools are packaged into a subscription plan starting at $1 per month for 500 MQTT messages consumed by a LoRaWAN gateway, with a no-term contract.

“We are delighted to join the LoRa Alliance and look forward to becoming an active member of a growing and engaged community,” said Philipp Bolliger, Thingstream’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “By combining our MQTT HERE to LoRaWAN implementation, we are enabling enterprises to access a single platform to manage connected devices’ global data flow from a single platform, regardless of the underlying radio network.”

“Private LoRaWAN networks are a fast-growing area for LoRaWAN technology, making up approximately 50 percent of our deployments today,” said Donna Moore, the LoRa Alliance’s CEO and chairwoman, in the prepared statement. “It is great to see new members coming into the LoRa Alliance with innovative solutions. We look forward to Thingstream’s contributions to the LoRa Alliance as a new member.”

OptConnect Adds Banyan Hills Technologies’ IoT Platform Canopy to Its Development Kits

OptConnect, a provider of managed wireless services, has announced that it has partnered with Banyan Hills Technologies to provide its customizable Internet of Things (IoT) platform, known as Canopy, with each ema:Play development kit. The kits allow engineers and developers to test OptConnect’s ema embedded modem in a sandbox environment for integration into their host boards.

Canopy takes real-time data from a device connected on a network and centralizes it into a single management platform to support operations. This provides customers with an end-to-end IoT software solution that enables centralized monitoring, management and control of large networks of devices and control systems.

“We’re proud to partner with the excellent team at Banyan Hills. Canopy is a fantastic IoT platform that blends wonderfully with ema:Play,” said Steve Garrett, OptConnect’s chief product officer, in a prepared statements. “Over the past few months, we’ve seen the success that small and large companies have had using the combined services of OptConnect and Banyan Hills, and we expect that trend to accelerate.” With this year’s launch of the ema solution, OptConnect is continuing to develop and add new features to the embedded modem and the ema:Play development kit.

OptConnect says it intends for ema:Play to serve as a testing ground for its customers. Canopy’s customizable platform is suitable for developers testing out ema:Play and will provide additional real-time insights and value for customers, the company reports. “We’re thrilled to partner with OptConnect, a world-class leader in wireless connectivity,” said Steve Latham, Banyan Hills Technologies’ CEO and founder, in the prepared statement. “Our collaboration with OptConnect will extend how engineers and developers use this technology and provide customers with end-to-end value for their connectivity and IoT strategies.”