RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

NFC Forum unveils tag-certification initiative, calls for participation ••• Fly Delta app adds push notifications for baggage check-in ••• DHS releases strategic principles for securing Internet of Things ••• Fior Markets' 2016 global handheld RFID terminal market report ••• Siemens' new RFID readers for flexible applications ••• Thinfilm, Bedford offer smart hangtag for NFC mobile marketing ••• Gooee partners with PointGrab to enhance smart lighting platform.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
The NFC Forum; Delta Air Lines; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Fior Markets; Siemens; Thin Film Electronics, Bedford Industries; Gooee, and PointGrab.

NFC Forum Unveils Tag-Certification Initiative, Calls for Participation

The NFC Forum has formally unveiled an initiative to create a tag-certification program, and has called upon tag vendors and solution providers to join the organization and participate in the effort. The new program will give organizations involved in products and services that use NFC tags a means of assuring global interoperability with NFC-enabled mobile devices, as well as establishing their tags’ compliance with the NFC Forum’s technical specifications. The program applies to all tag types specified by the NFC Forum (Types 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).

NFC tags store information accessible by NFC-enabled devices like smartphones, and can be embedded in everything from posters, magazines, audio accessories and household appliances to business cards, retail shelf talkers and other consumer products. The tags support a range of applications, including mobile marketing, public transport ticketing and access, authentication of luxury goods, and connecting objects to the Internet of Things. The use of NFC tags makes it easy to connect speakers and wireless headphones to mobile phones, deliver visitor information at museums, and protect consumers from purchasing counterfeit goods, among other uses.

According to ABI Research, 36.4 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. The market for NFC tags is expected to grow at a significant CAGR, as the technology is key to transforming the consumer connectivity experience.

The NFC Forum has established the Tag Certification Program’s organizational structure, work scope and goals, and is now welcoming organizations in the tag industry to join the Forum and contribute to the program. “If you make or use tags or accessories with NFC tags, now is the time to join the Forum and help ensure that all NFC tag technologies deliver a consistent, global connectivity experience across all applications and environments,” said Koichi Tagawa, the NFC Forum’s chairman, in a prepared statement. “Innovative tag applications are growing as NFC experiences increased market adoption across the majority of mobile device OEMs and operating systems.”

The new compliance initiative is being spearheaded by the NFC Forum’s Internet of Things Special Interest Group (SIG) and Compliance Committee, and will be part of the established NFC Forum Certification Program. NFC Forum members facilitate the development and market availability of products that comply with NFC Forum specifications through participation in the program.

The certification program provides differentiation for NFC Forum members, according to the organization, by shortening the product-adoption process, lowering adoption costs and making product implementations easier for partners to integrate. Companies that would like to join the Internet of Things SIG or Compliance Committee as contributing members can request membership information from the NFC Forum.

Fly Delta App Adds Push Notifications for Baggage Check-in

Radio frequency identification luggage tags are already attached to bags everywhere that Delta Air Lines flies. Now, customers will receive live push notifications from critical points along their bags’ journey. A quick note will let a customer know when his or her baggage has been successfully loaded onto an aircraft, as well as which carousel it will arrive at for pickup.

The Fly Delta app

Delta is the only carrier that has implemented an RFID bag-tracking solution on a global scale, the company reports. A recent study conducted by the International Air Transport Association indicated that an industry-wide global RFID solution could reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25 percent by 2022.

Other recent updates to the Fly Delta app include integration of the “Today” view and boarding pass into a single screen; dynamic updates to the electronic boarding pass to ensure that seat, gate and flight information are always up to date; increased visibility with the “Track My Bags” feature now offering a “Track On Map” option; a faster ticket-purchase experience, due to the elimination of the need to re-verify each leg of a trip while shopping; and the fixing of several bugs and performance issues.

DHS Releases Strategic Principles for Securing Internet of Things

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a document titled “Strategic Principles for Securing the Internet of Things (IoT), Version 1.0.” These principles highlight approaches and suggested practices to fortify the security of the IoT, according to the DHS, and will equip stakeholders to make responsible and risk-based security decisions as they design, manufacture and use internet-connected devices and systems.

“The growing dependency on network-connected technologies is outpacing the means to secure them,” said Jeh Johnson, the DHS’s secretary of homeland security, in a prepared statement. “We increasingly rely on functional networks to advance life-sustaining activities, from self-driving cars to the control systems that deliver water and power to our homes. Securing the Internet of Things has become a matter of homeland security. The guidance we issued today is an important step in equipping companies with useful information so they can make informed security decisions.”

The purpose of these principles is to provide stakeholders with tools to comprehensively account for security as they develop, manufacture, implement or use network-connected devices. According to the DHS, these principles represent a first step toward motivating and framing conversations regarding positive measures for security among IoT developers, manufacturers, service providers and the users who purchase and deploy the devices, services and systems.

The principles focus on the following key areas: incorporating security at the design phase, advancing security updates and vulnerability management, building on proven security practices, prioritizing security based on potential impacts, promoting transparency across the IoT ecosystem, and connecting carefully and deliberately.

“Today is a first step,” said Robert Silvers, the DHS’s assistant secretary for cyber policy, in the prepared statement. “We have a rapidly closing window to ensure security is accounted for at the front end of the Internet of Things phenomenon. These principles will initiate longer-term collaboration between government and industry. Together, we will work to develop solutions to address the resilience of the Internet of Things so that we can continue to benefit from the remarkable innovation that is driving our increasingly connected world.”

Fior Markets’ 2016 Global Handheld RFID Terminal Market Report

Fior Markets has released a report providing a detailed analysis of worldwide markets for handheld RFID terminals from 2011 to 2016, which contains extensive market forecasts for 2016 to 2021, by region or country and subsectors. The report covers the key technological and market trends in the handheld RFID terminal market, and further lays out an analysis of the factors influencing the supply and demand for such devices, as well as the opportunities and challenges faced by industry participants.

The report, published by Gen Consulting Co. and titled “Global Handheld RFID Terminal Market Forecast and Analysis 2016-2021,” enables companies active across the value chain, as well as new entrants to the market, to capitalize on opportunities and develop business strategies. A copy of the report can be requested here.

The report has been prepared based on the synthesis, analysis and interpretation of information about the global market, collected from numerous sources. It covers key technological developments in recent times, profiles leading players in the market and analyzes their key strategies.

A section of the report discussing the competitive landscape provides insights into the market-share analysis of key industry players. These include Zebra Technologies, Honeywell, Datalogic, Casio, Denso, Bluebird and Fujian Newland. The report provides separate comprehensive analytics for North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa.

Siemens’ New RFID Readers for Flexible Applications

Siemens has modernized its Simatic RF300 RFID system by adding three new readers to the product line: the RF310R, the RF340R and the RF350R. These readers are integrated into the company’s Simatic Step 7 engineering systems and TIA Portal, Siemens reports, in order to make commissioning easy.

The new devices offer an additional transponder protocol (air interface) for MOBY E transponders (Mifare Classic and ISO 14443 A), with automatic recognition of various types of transponder (RF300, ISO 15693 and Mifare Classic). This makes migration from old systems easier, according to the company, and paves the way for new applications. The compact system is designed for controlling and optimizing material flow in industrial production, such as in closely packed assembly lines and workpiece holder systems.

Siemens’ RF340R reader

The new reader generation can be seamlessly integrated into Simatic controllers. It is fully compatible with Siemens’ existing RF300 product family, not only mechanically (dimensions and mounting holes) and electrically (power supply and interfaces), but also for systems integration (application software, function blocks and communication modules). For migration, old MOBY I systems need only have the readers and transponders replaced. MOBY E systems can be expanded with RF300 readers, Siemens reports, enabling MOBY E installations to be converted cost-effectively without the need to replace the transponders.

A user-friendly setup helps users find the optimal position for the antenna to achieve high reliability, especially in metallic environments. In this way, users can optimize the reader transponder’s position during installation and commissioning, without requiring additional equipment. Both the RF310R and RF340R models have an integrated antenna, while an external antenna can be connected to the RF350R. Antennas are available in various shapes and sizes to suit a user’s particular application.

According to Siemens, further devices and functions of the Simatic RF300 RFID system will be modernized at a later date.

Thinfilm, Bedford Offer Smart Hangtag for NFC Mobile Marketing

Thin Film Electronics ASA (Thinfilm), a provider of Near Field Communication (NFC)-based smart-packaging solutions using printed electronics, has announced a partnership with Bedford Industries, a manufacturer of product ties, closures and identification tags. The two companies will integrate Thinfilm’s NFC SpeedTap technology into Bedford’s ElastiTag hangtag product line, in order to deliver turnkey intelligent-packaging solutions to consumer brand companies of all sizes, as well as the broader fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market.

ElastiTag hangtags are designed to capture the attention of retail shoppers and drive consumer engagement at the point of sale, according to the two companies. The tags consist of a colorful elastomer loop attached to a custom-printed label, and come in a range of shapes and sizes to ensure compatibility with numerous product form-factors. As a marketing tool, the tags are used to promote special offers, launch new products and enhance a brand’s identity. Customers using the ElastiTag product include Unilever (Dove), Procter & Gamble (Downey), Diageo (Baileys), Bayer (Coppertone), Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive, L’Oreal, Method, Dole and Hershey’s.

The integration of SpeedTap technology into the ElastiTag, the companies report, lowers the barrier-to-entry for NFC-based mobile-marketing solutions, offering brands of all sizes an intelligent packaging option supported by a cloud-based software platform that provides one-to-one marketing capabilities. In addition, the tags can be attached to virtually all types of primary packaging, thereby eliminating the need for more formal integration with a product and bringing NFC engagement functionality closer to the consumer.

According to the companies, the technology is uniquely identifiable and virtually impossible to clone, and can be read with the simple tap of an NFC-enabled smartphone. Once tapped, the tag wirelessly communicates with the cloud, allowing brands to connect directly with consumers to deliver product information and other relevant content. Key applications enabled by the SpeedTap’s functionality include instant reordering, loyalty program integration, “how to” instructions, customer reviews, surveys and user registration.

Bedford is working to standardize manufacturing processes for integrating SpeedTap tags into the ElastiTag product on its production lines, and has developed technology that allows for high-speed, automated application of ElastiTags to a range of packages. Thinfilm and Bedford are now engaging a range of consumer brands to discuss the ElastiTag product.

“Many of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods companies rely on Bedford’s ElastiTag to help drive engagement with retail shoppers,” said Davor Sutija, Thinfilm’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “We’re very excited about the role NFC SpeedTap technology is playing in creating a smart version of the ElastiTag product and look forward to bringing value to Bedford’s existing and future CPG relationships.”

Gooee Partners With PointGrab to Enhance Smart Lighting Platform

Gooee, which offers an operating platform designed to connect lighting manufacturers to the Internet of Things, has announced a partnership with PointGrab, a provider of an intelligent edge-analytics sensing solution. By connecting PointGrab’s CogniPoint deep-learning-based sensor into Gooee’s ecosystem, and by streaming the data to Gooee’s cloud, the partnership aims to enhance the building-automation industry through real-time intelligence and energy efficiency.

In the era of the Internet of Things, the company reports, there is opportunity to introduce a new approach to building automation that provides real-time intelligence and control. This platform, according to the two partners, aims to yield smart buildings that are efficient, save energy, optimize facility management, enhance safety and security, generate business intelligence and improve occupants’ experience.

“Alongside our IoT sensor, the PointGrab sensing platform will generate a rich dataset,” said Simon Coombes, Gooee’s CTO and cofounder, in a prepared statement, “that we expect will lead to several energy-saving opportunities and the optimization of smart buildings.”

PointGrab’s CogniPoint edge-analytics sensing solution provides occupants’ presence, count and positions in a miniature form factor. By utilizing advanced deep-learning neural networks technology, the device delivers actionable analytics for optimizing building operations, space management, energy savings and business intelligence.

“Due to the increased demand for intelligent and more efficient buildings, and following the rapid adoption of the IoT, smart sensors are essential to today’s building-automation capabilities,” said Itamar Roth, PointGrab’s chief business officer, in the prepared statement. “Integrating our technology into Gooee’s ecosystem expands our market reach and enables customers to access the complete joint solution.”

For Gooee, this represents the first integration of third-party technology into its ecosystem. In the statement, Coombes added, “We are exploring additional ways to enrich datasets that can be generated from a building environment, and have begun other integrations that will enhance both user experience and yield a rich presentation of data that can offer insights and suggestions on energy savings.”