RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Identiv launches high-security HF RFID access-control cards ••• Vizinex RFID releases tag for mounting on multiple surfaces ••• Keonn Technologies intros interactive display and product cross-selling system ••• Microsoft offers new blockchain product-tracking project ••• Red Ledge launches open RFID- and IIoT-ready asset-management system ••• Bristol ID Technologies expands management team.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Identiv; Vizinex RFID; Keonn Technologies; Microsoft; Red Ledge; and Bristol ID Technologies.

Identiv Launches High-Security HF RFID Access-Control Cards

Identiv has announced the launch of its uTrust TS Card, a high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID access card product line designed to increase security. Despite the security weaknesses of 125 kHz proximity card systems, the company explains, the adoption of more secure replacements has been hampered by the lack of alternatives that meet all customer requirements for such solutions—namely, low cost, seamless support of existing systems, easy migration, simple ordering and enrollment of cards, and a high level of security certified by independent third-party organizations.

The uTrust TS Card line meets these requirements, Identiv reports, and offers high-assurance identity and access card authenticity to newly deployed and existing physical access-control systems. The cards employ NXP Semiconductors‘ Mifare DESFire EV1 256B technology, specifically developed for physical access cards.

Identiv’s uTrust TS Card

The uTrust TS Cards are available in two models: TS Standard Cards (for new installations) and TS Migration Cards (which include 125 kHz proximity technology that can be interoperated with existing 125 kHz proximity readers). The cards are intended to simplify migration by supporting the commonly used Wiegand card data formats used on proximity cards.

The Mifare DESFire EV1 platform used in the cards carries the Common Criteria EAL4+ certification, trusted by governments and organizations worldwide as the benchmark in external security validation. This recognizes the platform’s robust design and open specification, Identiv says, and contrasts with alternative solutions that lack certifications, do not make their protocols available for review and lock customers into proprietary, unscalable security schemes.

To simplify the enrollment process, Identiv is offering its uTrust TS Universal Enrollment Station, a USB-connected device that automates the process of reading card numbers and entering them into physical access-control system software. The station is compatible with Identiv’s uTrust TS Reader Family.

“When used with Identiv’s uTrust TS Readers, the uTrust TS Card provides a simple, cost-effective path to mitigating emerging security and compliance challenges, while maintaining compatibility with existing access-control systems,” said Matt Herscovitch, Identiv’s general manager for access readers and credentials, in a prepared statement. “In contrast with other high-frequency access cards that increase costs and fail to reduce the complexity of ordering and usage, uTrust TS Cards are priced to be less expensive than all alternatives, even typical low-frequency 125 kHz proximity cards from leading vendors.”

Identiv’s uTrust TS Card, uTrust TS Reader Family and uTrust TS Universal Enrollment Station are currently available to order or evaluate. More information is available at identiv.com/ts-cards.

Vizinex RFID Releases Tag for Mounting on Multiple Surfaces

Vizinex RFID, a provider of RFID tags tailored to specific applications, has announced that it has launched a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag that can be mounted on multiple surfaces. The new tag, known as FMX-1 RFID, is the latest addition to Vizinex’s RFID tag product line.

“The tag works well on both metal and non-metal surfaces, has a low profile and is very flexible, so it can conform to a curved surface,” said Ken Horton, Vizinex’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “It can serve a wide variety of applications. In the office, it can be used for tracking laptops and tablets where there is minimal ergonomic impact for the user. On the other hand, it is tough enough for industrial uses, such as tracking steel tubing used in an oil field. We are confident customers will select the FMX-1 to solve a wide range of tagging problems.”

Vizinex’s FMX-1 RFID tag

Measuring 70 millimeters by 15 millimeters by 1.6 millimeters (2.8 inches by 0.6 inch by 0.06 inch), the FMX-1 is a thin, surface-conforming tag with a read range of up to 6.5 feet on metal surfaces and 5 feet on plastic. The tag provides 128 bits of Electronic Product Code (EPC) memory and 128 bits of user memory, and has a temperature tolerance of -58 degrees Fahrenheit to +302 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius to +150 degrees Celsius).

The FMX-1 is available in both U.S. and E.U. frequencies. The tag is also available with Vizinex’s full Service Bureau for labeling, encoding and locking.

Keonn Technologies Intros Interactive Display and Product Cross-Selling System

Keonn Technologies has introduced its AdvanLook interactive display and product-recommendation and cross-selling solution. According to the company, the AdvanLook system uses RFID technology and a display to improve the shopping experience of customers at retail stores. With the AdvanLook system, customers can view images of the products they pick up, as well as access detailed information about these goods and receive product recommendations.

The AdvanLook system

According to Keonn Technologies, a customer can choose an item of interest, then bring that product to the AdvanLook display, and an RFID subsystem will detect its presence. The AdvanLook screen will show images of the product, along with such information as available colors and sizes, composition and price. The customer will also receive recommendations for matching goods and accessories. He or she can then browse through the other products on the touchscreen, and request that an employee bring them to his or her location if desired.

Several units can be installed in a single store, Keonn Technologies reports, and AdvanLook’s content and user interface can be updated remotely by means of cloud-based software. The technology can also be deployed at libraries, the company notes.

Microsoft Offers New Blockchain Product-Tracking Project

Microsoft has undertaken Project Manifest, a blockchain deployment intended to monitor goods moving through worldwide supply chains. The project involves technology initially created to help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) communicate with deep-space probes. According to an article posted at CoinDesk.com, Project Manifest could help to ensure the origins of products, as well as make sure that the labor involved in creating them conforms to ethical standards.

Project Manifest, established in initial partnership with Mojix, leverages the company’s ViZix Internet of Things platform, designed to help retailers, distribution centers and factories monitor products via radio frequency identification technology. According to the article, the implementation enables a company to alert supply chain members in the event that shipped products end up missing.

Mojix has raised $40 million in venture funding from Red Rock Ventures and other companies. An noSQL database powers the big-data framework behind the IoT platform. The blockchain solution integrates the ViZix platform with a smart contracts application layer.

Mojix exhibited the technology at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show 2017 convention, held last month in New York City. “At NRF,” a Microsoft spokesperson told RFID Journal, “in Microsoft’s booth, Mojix demonstrated a proof-of-concept for how these smart contracts are created in blockchain and have the ability to show the provenance of an item, so retailers know, when placing an order, that they are adhering to their company’s corporate social responsibility programs and are only working with partners who operate ethically.”

The blockchain integration, according to Mojix, takes advantage of the growing use of RFID, GPS and Bluetooth sensors in the manufacture of goods. “Microsoft and its partners are delivering solutions that enable retailers to transform their businesses today,” the spokesperson explained, “but we also have an eye on the future and are constantly innovating with the specific needs of retailers in mind.”

According to the spokesperson, “Microsoft partner Mojix has developed technology to enable blockchain-powered smart contracts, driving the next wave of innovation across supply chains. Mojix’s RFID hardware and software feeds data through Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, into the blockchain ledger, creating an irrefutable record of a product moving through a retailer’s supply chain. Ultimately, this will create more agile supply chains and create closer cooperation and enhanced trust among retailers, suppliers and logistic partners.”

Red Ledge Launches Open RFID- and IIoT-Ready Asset-Management System

Software application and engineering company Red Ledge is launching a new asset-management system (AMS) with open access to all RFID readers, bypassing manufacturers’ proprietary application programming interfaces. The AMS also enables access to multiple Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices, including all types of sensor, GPRS and RFID tags.

Andy O’Donnell, Red Ledge’s managing director, said in a prepared statement that the Red Ledge RFID-IIoT Asset Management System “leverages the ubiquity of IIoT and the power of RFID to set a new standard for industrial asset connectivity—one that increases the user’s ability to track and trace industrial assets exponentially.” The first public showing of the new AMS will be provided at the IntraLogisteX supply chain event, to be held in the United Kingdom on Mar. 15-16, 2017.

The RFID-IIoT Asset Management System

The RFID-IIoT AMS is suitable for any organization with assets that are distributed across a wide area on multiple sites, the company reports. It is a fully managed system that checks an item’s location, monitors any maintenance for that asset, identifies problems, assigns personnel with the right skillset to solve them and provides a full audit trail for all tracked assets. It can be integrated with mainstream enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, in addition to other enterprise systems.

The number of connected devices is forecast to rise from 10 billion in 2015 to 34 billion by 2020, according to a report by BusinessInsider.com. Almost $6 trillion will be spent on the Internet of Things from now until 2021, the report indicates.

Bristol ID Technologies Expands Management Team

Bristol ID Technologies, a provider of card technologies, has announced that its new president, Jeff Bill, will focus on expanding Bristol’s presence through business development and acquisition initiatives. “We are very excited about Jeff joining our team,” said Keith Yeates, Bristol ID’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “I am confident his wealth of industry experience, proven track record of business development and extensive background in M&A make him the perfect fit for Bristol as we accelerate our growth trajectory in the coming years.”

Prior to joining Bristol, Bill worked for Brady Corp. as the general manager of its Security Group business unit. In that role, he led an organization of more than 100 commercial and technical employees and was responsible for its global manufacturing network. Previously, he spent several years working for the Boston Consulting Group, and he also spent nearly a decade at GE Healthcare in a variety of engineering, marketing and project-management roles.