RFID News Roundup

NXP adds secure wireless MCUs to IoT portfolio; XO2Tech unveils new RFID products; Telenor IoT, Omdia issue report on APAC adoption; Itron upgrades Florida infrastructure with IoT tech; Loriot updates network management system for IoT.
Published: December 22, 2022

Presented here are recent news announcements in the radio frequency identification and Internet of Things industries.

NXP Adds Secure Wireless MCUs to IoT Portfolio

NXP Semiconductors has announced new products designed to simplify the development of Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions. Adding to NXP’s portfolio of Matter-based solutions, the RW612 and the K32W148 devices combine edge-processing capabilities with integrated security to streamline development, simplify designs and reduce costs for Matter-enabled smart-home devices.

The recently launched Matter standard was developed within the Connectivity Standards Alliance by a consortium of companies, including NXP, to ease device interoperability in smart homes. Matter is intended to enable devices from different brands and ecosystems to reliably and securely communicate, freeing consumers from ecosystem restraints. This allows consumers to select devices based on desired features rather than connectivity requirements. With native support for Matter, the multi-protocol enablement provided by the K32W148 and the tri-radio capabilities of the RW612 allow developers to integrate Matter functionality into smart-home devices, according to the company.

The RW612 is a tri-radio wireless MCU with concurrent, multi-protocol support for Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.3 and 802.15.4, capable of supporting Thread or Zigbee. It is targeted for smart-home devices such as thermostats, garage door openers, door locks, IP cameras, robotic vacuums and smart appliances. The K32W148 wireless MCU offers multi-protocol enablement across Thread, BLE 5.3, and Zigbee for devices such as smart plugs, smart lighting, and low-power smart devices and sensors. It adds Thread and Zigbee support to home routers, hubs and bridges, using a single antenna.

The RW612 leverages an integrated tri-radio and edge-processing capabilities from the EdgeVerse i.MX RT crossover MCU family. It features an Arm Cortex-M33 MCU subsystem with TrustZone-M, as well as on-chip SRAM and high-performance configurable peripherals, including Ethernet, LCD controller and five FlexComm modules to support a variety of serial protocols. The RW612 is supported by the unified MCUXpresso development environment. NXP also offers the RW610, part of the same family of devices, with support for features such as Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast broadcast audio for audio-focused applications.

The K32W148 wireless MCU is architected with separated radio and security execution environments to free the main Cortex-M33 core and memory for the customer’s application. It includes dual-PAN capability to simplify the coexistence of multiple IEEE 802.15.4 networks, such as Thread and Zigbee. The K32W148 is supported by the unified MCUXpresso development environment as well.

Both MCUs are part of NXP’s EdgeLock Assurance program, which follows a secure-by-design approach, including protection against remote and local software attacks, as well as support for secure boot, secure debug and secure over-the-air firmware updates, with an immutable root-of-trust, hardware accelerated cryptography and lifecycle management. They work with the EdgeLock SE05x secure element and EdgeLock A5000 secure authenticator. Both devices support the EdgeLock 2GO service for simplifying the provisioning and management of device credentials. The RW612 and RW610 are currently sampling.

XO2Tech Unveils New RFID Products

XO2Tech has announced three new RFID products, each of which is patented or patent pending. The RF-iD tech is a sensing system designed to detect and reduce counterfeit or fraudulent products, decrease carbon emissions and improve product sustainability using wireless radio frequency waves to verify, authenticate and determine the content (solid or liquid) of a container, including levels of freshness, contamination or spoilage. The system incorporates RF tags, such as RFID or Bluetooth, attached to the interior or exterior of a container.

The system can exploit near-field coupling between a tag’s antenna and a container’s content to determine, verify and authenticate a product that can include alcohol, medicine, food or perfume. The application incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) signal change algorithms to analyze, authenticate and determine the container’s content and provide data actions based on the analysis. The RF-iD tech system provides product inventory or purchase order, fill levels, freshness, contamination, temperature and UV light exposure readings, as well as consumer interaction and emotion analytics.

The company has also introduced Vital Check, a smart, connected packaging solution that provides consumer safety and promotes health equity. The system consists of an RF tag connected to a product, such food or medication, to detect a consumer’s interaction with the product—for example, if a shopper picks up or engages with that item. Vital Check is a food and medication adherence solution that provides applications for aging in place.

When the RF tag is placed in contact with or in close proximity to the consumer, it monitors the person’s body vital signs, including heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, breathing effort, temperature and movement, to detect any adverse reactions to the product. Vital Check is configured to send notifications, recommendations or suggestions regarding the consumer’s product interactions and vital signs.

Finally, RF-Smart Retail is designed as an omnichannel experience and product supply chain interaction solution. When shoppers pick up or interact with a product with an RF tag in a retail, supply chain or home environment, they receive real-time product or usage recommendations or suggestions. They can then automatically place a cashierless product order and receive recommended or suggested related products (such as recipes, medications, cosmetics, inventory, etc.), as well as collateral marketing information for the product or a related item (coupons, brand swag, readable content, product origin or transparent supply data).

The system can track product fill levels, freshness, contamination, temperature and UV light exposure, as well as consumer interaction and emotion analytics with products. For all three products, AI analytics are based, in part, on stored or generated RF tag product data.

Telenor IoT, Omdia Issue Report on APAC Adoption

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is set to overtake the rest of the world in terms of IoT adoption, according to an Asian IoT megatrends report titled “Set to Surge: APAC moves from IoT Laggard to Global Pioneer,” from research firm Omdia and connectivity provider Telenor IoT. APAC’s enterprise digital transformation has been slower than the rest of the world, the research indicates, but with investments on the rise, the region is expected to accelerate fast, pushing IoT adoption into unprecedented growth at scale.

Omdia found that 20 percent of enterprises in the APAC region anticipate their IoT deployments will reach beyond 500,000 devices that can be connected wirelessly to a network and be used to transmit information within the next 12 months. In addition, emerging IoT adoption in the area, particularly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand, is expected to push the current 14.5 billion IoT devices in circulation to a forecasted 38.9 billion IoT devices by 2030.

“Clearly, digitalization and sustainability are moving to the core of companies future strategies,” said Seth Ryding, Telenor’s chief sales officer for Asia, in a prepared statement. “IoT and digitalization are no longer an option for enterprises in the region, but a necessity, as technology hardware, connectivity and software take center stage in the digital future. As no other region is poised for IoT growth on the scale of APAC, the mega-trends set out in this report can be used as a valuable guide for enterprise looking to be successful in an increasingly connected future.”

Unique challenges drive APAC in ways not seen in the rest of the world, the report indicates, due to population growth in megacities, combined with a need to reach widely spread remote areas, increasing pressures of urban mobility and energy demand, and the political landscape, including newly introduced or revamped policies or guidelines to steer deployment. This takes place in an IoT vendor market that is fragmented, with enterprises challenged by complexity and concerned by cybersecurity

The report highlights the drivers behind fast-moving automotive digitalization and IoT efforts, particularly in fleet management. It also covers how the IoT is streamlining processes in transportation and logistics, as well as a clear link to the sustainability agenda in the growing application of IoT in APAC energy, utilities and resources enterprises. With such acceleration in deployment, the report concludes that enterprises should consider connectivity from the country level, seek proven integrated IoT security solutions, build in a sustainability-first approach, plan for the complexity of IoT integrations and choose the right partners.

Itron Upgrades Florida Infrastructure with IoT Tech

Itron, which works with utilities and cities to manage energy and water, has signed a contract with Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), a multi-service utility owned by the City of Gainesville, Fla., to modernize the utility’s infrastructure with Itron’s IIoT network solution. The solution includes smart Gen5 500W water and Gen5 500G gas communication modules, as well as Gen5 Riva Distributed Intelligence-enabled electric smart meters.

The utility will also utilize Itron’s Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management solution, on a software-as-a-service basis, to manage meter and sensor data. These solutions will allow GRU to improve operational efficiency and data-collection accuracy, the company reports, as well as enhance customer service. The utility plans to deploy Itron’s solutions throughout Gainesville and surrounding areas.

Upon completion, GRU’s electric, gas and water operations will leverage Itron’s communications network to receive more accurate data, enabling the utility to act on insights, improve service reliability and reduce operational costs. Through Itron’s solutions, data is collected electronically daily, as opposed to manually every month. This, the company says, eliminates costs associated with physically accessing the homes and businesses of customers in order to read meters. In addition, GRU’s customers can lower their utility bills by monitoring usage from an online account.

“Our core business principle at GRU is to seek ways to enhance our customer’s experience and reduce the impact of our operations on the environment,” said Chad Parker, GRU’s energy measurement and regulation manager, in a prepared statement. “Modernizing our infrastructure with Itron’s IIoT network solution gives us the opportunity to streamline meter reading and improve services to our customers such as providing accurate and reliable billing. With Itron’s solution, it lays the foundation for future applications like distribution automation, street lighting controls and other smart city advanced capabilities.”

John Marcolini, Itron’s senior VP of networked solutions, added in the statement: “Working together with GRU, the fifth largest municipal electric utility in Florida, to deploy Itron’s unified IIoT solution will enable the utility to enhance the quality, safety and reliability of the services that they delivery to their customers. We look forward to working together with GRU to meet the changing demands in energy and water service delivery and better manage the planet’s most precious resources.”

Loriot Updates Network Management System for IoT

Long-range IoT network provider Loriot has announced version 8.0 of its Network Management System (NMS), which has already been deployed globally across Loriot’s 12 community public servers. A rollout on six professional public servers, including deployments in the United Arab Emirates, will take place during the coming weeks, while private servers will be updated in accordance with each customer.

Version 8 of the NMS, named after the hummingbird, was developed to meet the growing demand for massive IoT deployments worldwide, the company explains. It introduces features and performance upgrades on the back and front ends of the server infrastructure, along with a redesigned user interface based on the most recent UX best practices.

Upgrades include scalability and performance improvements, new gateway support, Datacake IoT platform integration and passive roaming improvements. The Hummingbird solution includes the LoRaWAN Roaming Hub, a centralized roaming service hosted, maintained and operated by Loriot, which allows users and customers to extend coverage by utilizing gateway connectivity from other LoRaWAN networks backed by Loriot or by third parties, as well as share gateway connectivity with others.

In addition, v8.0 introduces the mioty service center. This latest version will be the first release of the NMS able to set up and operate hybrid radio networks (using both LoRaWAN and mioty protocols) on a large scale. The mioty capabilities will only be available as a premium feature in preview for private instances of the new NMS, Loriot reports.

“Hummingbird is the most ambitious release of our solution to date,” said Gianni Zizzi, Loriot’s CTO, in a prepared statement. “We have worked using the latest technology in order to meet the demands of the market and our customers. New functionalities, a new UI for a more seamless user experience, and a strong focus on security remain pillars of our endeavor. I am extremely proud of my team’s efforts.”

Julian Studer, the company’s CEO and founder, added in the statement: “The IoT market is experiencing rapid growth with large-scale projects. We intended to provide our customers with additional flexibility through our Network Management System, which for the first time embraces a hybrid approach in terms of communication protocol by combining the promising mioty technology with the mature and well-established LoRaWAN. We strongly believe that this is a significant milestone for our company, and we are excited about the future.”