RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Smart Label Solutions, Newave Sensor Solutions, Wistron NeWeb Corp. partner to develop Asia-Pacific RFID market; Sigfox, Alps Alpine ally to boost IoT market innovation; Altair Semiconductor receives SoftBank NB-IoT validation for cellular IoT chipset; Nexxt Solutions, Microsoft, Tuya collaborate on smart homes and home automation; CTIA approves Intertek as authorized testing lab for IoT cybersecurity certification; ITL Group launches RFID podcast.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Smart Label Solutions, Newave Sensor Solutions, Wistron NeWeb Corp.;
Sigfox, Alps Alpine;
Altair Semiconductor, SoftBank;
Nexxt Solutions, Microsoft, Tuya;
CTIA, Intertek; and
ITL Group.

Smart Label Solutions, Newave Sensor Solutions, Wistron NeWeb Corp. Partner to Develop Asia-Pacific RFID Market

Newave Sensor Solutions has announced that an agreement with Smart Label Solutions (SLS) and Wistron NeWeb Corp. (WNC) has been completed to jointly develop RFID business in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, with RFID portals as the initial market entry. NSS and SLS have agreed that WNC shall be their business partner and exclusive manufacturer to commercially develop portal products in APAC, inclusive of an SLS license to their proprietary software integration system to WNC.

NSS, the co-owner with WNC of intellectual property rights for a patented wave antenna, offers RFID solution designs, product development and quality control testing expertise. SLS has an expansive customer base with global reach and proprietary software integration expertise. WNC features laboratory testing capability, APAC commercial capability and a global infrastructure. WNC will provide APAC portal manufacturing for SLS, as well as for to WNC’s global customer base.

“By mid-2020, we expect to have completed nearly 10,000 portal installations in North America,” said Jeff Hudson, Smart Label Solutions’ CEO, in a prepared statement. “Together with NSS and WNC, we have an excellent opportunity to leverage our North American success and customer base to their Asian divisions. We are very excited about this new venture and we share the objective of becoming the leading global provider of RFID portals within the next decade.”

“Newave and SLS have had an incredibly successful partnership over the last six or more years, and with WNC’s APAC market knowledge, infrastructure, technical capability and extensive customer base, we together as partners expect to become the leading global portal provider over the next decade,” added Barry Burnside, a founder and board member of Newave, in the prepared statement. “What SLS and NSS have accomplished in North America is an incredible success story. This success and the deep expertise and synergy brought together by these three companies is a very formidable combination.”

Jeffrey Gau, WNC’s president and CEO, said in the prepared statement: “We are delighted to partner with SLS and NSS to explore business opportunities in an expanding APAC RFID market. With our proven track record in RFID antenna design and manufacturing for a wide range of products; our global customer base; and our top-notch testing facilities, WNC will continue to offer critical technical expertise in support of our mutual objective: providing leadership for the RFID portal industry, now and in the foreseeable future.”

Sigfox, Alps Alpine Ally to Boost IoT Market Innovation

Sigfox, an Internet of Things (IoT) service provider and global 0G network operator, has signed a global alliance partnership agreement with Alps Alpine, a manufacturer of electronic products. The agreement allows the two companies to work together to drive technical innovation and expand their combined reach.

Alps Alpine manufactures components for the automotive, industrial and smartphone industries, including sensors, human-machine interfaces, switches and connectivity devices. The alliance combines Sigfox’s 0G network, which connects billions of devices, with Alps Alpine’s mass-production capabilities. This will enable the firms to roll out connected devices to the mass market, allowing businesses to accelerate their digital transformation and develop new services.

The alliance is intended to speed up the adoption of connected devices by providing Alps Alpine with early access to Sigfox’s R&D projects. This will allow the firms to co-develop services in the future; encourage joint investment in innovation, including the development of small, low-cost devices and energy harvesting technologies; and build a joint go-to-market strategy. The two companies have agreed on the common development of Sigfox’s Bubble Beacon/Tag for luggage and asset tracking. Bubbles are small devices that can be placed anywhere within a matter of seconds and can track the locations of any objects, from luggage to pallets.

“We’re seeing a significant acceleration in demand for connected objects and industrial scale deployments of IoT solutions,” said Glen Robinson, Sigfox’s chief business-development officer, in a prepared statement. “Having a global, simple, low-cost, low-power connectivity solution is a critical success factor, and exactly the challenge that Sigfox is addressing right now… This partnership has unlocked innovation, scale, quality and cost potential that is enabling us to deliver digital and economic benefits for our clients that were once unattainable. By combining resources, we are realizing the future of a mass, mainstream IoT, while pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Since 2017, Sigfox and Alps Alpine have partnered on common customer projects. Earlier this year, the companies launched a tracking solution for Deutsche Post DHL Group, with 250,000 roll cages fitted with smart trackers to provide accurate information regarding their location and movements.

“Sigfox has already proven to be a trusted partner in delivering accurate, reliable solutions,” said Yasuo Sasao, Alps Alpine’s chief technology officer, in the prepared statement. “We welcome moving onto the next stage, working together to develop more professional, industrial solutions, bringing the value of the IoT to more markets. By combining our mass-production and engineering capabilities with Sigfox’s low-powered network, there is no limit to what we can achieve together.”

Sigfox has also announced that it has achieved the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)’s 9001:2015 certification for quality management. ISO 9001:2015 provides a model that companies of all types and sizes can use to build an effective quality-management system. To become ISO 9001:2015 certified, organizations must demonstrate several quality-management principles, including a strong customer focus, the involvement of high-level company management and ongoing improvement of internal quality-management processes.

Altair Semiconductor Receives SoftBank NB-IoT Validation for Cellular IoT Chipset

Altair Semiconductor, a provider of cellular Internet of Things (IoT) chipsets, has announced that its ALT1250 products has been validated for NB-IoT by SoftBank, in addition to CAT M1. Following this announcement, the chipset is now active on SoftBank’s network. The validation enables ALT1250-based products to operate on SoftBank’s network, which the company says will address the demand for low-power cellular-connected smart meters, telematics devices, trackers, wearables and home appliances.

Altair’s cellular IoT chipsets are designed to provide low power consumption and a long battery life. Commercially available now, they feature a hardware-based security framework and a set of features including integrated MCU and GNSS, which make them suitable for integration in a range of industrial and consumer IoT applications, the company reports.

“Altair’s ALT1250 chipset is one of the outstanding cellular IoT solutions,” said Takenori Kobayashi, the VP of SoftBank’s Device Technology Division, in a prepared statement. “As a market leader in IoT, SoftBank is constantly looking for chipset platforms that will boost our connectivity range. We believe the ALT1250 can make us stand out in the global marketplace and provide increased value to our customers. More plans with Altair’s ALT1250 are yet to come.”

“SoftBank is a world leader in cellular IoT, and we are proud to have been validated by them,” said Ilan Reingold, Altair Semiconductor’s VP of business development and marketing, in the prepared statement. “We are delighted to have been successfully tested for interoperability and look forward to finding new opportunities in Japan, where Altair already has an excellent track record.”

Nexxt Solutions, Microsoft, Tuya Collaborate on Smart Homes and Home Automation

Nexxt Solutions has announced that it is partnering with Microsoft and Tuya to power and commercialize its first fully cloud-connected portfolio of smart-home devices. This portfolio includes smart plugs, smart power strips, smart bulbs and home security kits that contain window, door and motion sensors, all of which can be monitored and managed remotely with Nexxt Solutions’ Home App, powered by Tuya and hosted on Microsoft Azure.

The Home App can run on either a smartphone or a tablet. It lets users control all compatible devices via a Wi-Fi connection so they can set schedules or control their home appliances. The app is easy to install, does not require a hub to operate and can be easily shared with family members and friends, the company reports. In addition, its voice-activation feature makes it compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for hands-free management of all linked devices.

Nexxt Solutions’ smart-home devices are currently being sold via retailers in 40 countries, including the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile, and will be available to consumers from such retailers and etailers as Brandsmart, Best Buy Mexico, Chedraui, Alkosto, Falabella, Distelsa, Intelaf, Hiraoka, Coolbox, Almacenes Siman, Mixup and others soon to be announced. With the demand for products in the smart-home category growing, the firm is expanding its portfolio of products to include smart coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, intelligent pet feeders fitted with cameras and more.

“The Internet of Things, along with the power of AI, is forever transforming the way we interact with our devices,” said Bruno García, Nexxt Solutions’ VP of sales and marketing, in a prepared statement. “Home automation is shaping the future, as devices are no longer simply responding to our commands but are increasingly interacting with us, making people’s lives not only easier and more secure, but also environmentally friendly.”

“The future of the smart home is streamlined integration,” said Alex Yang, Tuya’s COO and co-founder, in the prepared statement. “By combining the operation of several home devices into one app powered by Tuya, Nexxt Solutions is creating a powerful, simple way for people to control their homes and get the most out of them.”

“This strategic collaboration with Tuya and Nexxt Solutions represents an important step in our ongoing commitment to bring highly secure, cloud connected, smart home devices to our customers,” added Mark Linton, Microsoft’s general manager for device portfolio and solutions, in the statement. “We are delighted that consumers in 40 countries will be able to purchase Nexxt Solutions smart home devices and solutions, powered by Tuya and Azure, this fall.”

CTIA Approves Intertek as Authorized Testing Lab for IoT Cybersecurity Certification

Intertek, a provider of quality-assurance solutions, has announced that two of its Connected World testing laboratories have been approved by CTIA as authorized testing labs (CATLs) for the CTIA Cybersecurity Certification Test Plan for IoT Devices. With this approval, Intertek’s facilities in Lexington, Ky., and Rockville, Md., will be able to test and certify connected devices to CTIA’s specifications for cybersecurity.

The CTIA IoT Cybersecurity Certification Program is designed to help improve security for connected devices, protecting consumers and data while creating a secure foundation for the IoT. To obtain cybersecurity certification, manufacturers and developers must submit a certification request to CTIA and indicate their chosen CATL, which will then test the product according to CTIA’s test plan.

Intertek’s experts in Lexington and Rockville will conduct technical assessments, then prepare test reports and the final submission to CTIA. The successful completion of all testing and reporting criteria will result in CTIA IoT Cybersecurity certification, the company explains.

“Intertek has been providing Total Quality Assurance solutions to the Connected World for years, and we are proud to help the industry bring in-demand products to consumers as the IoT continues to grow,” said David Dennis, Intertek’s VP, in a prepared statement. “We are so pleased to expand our partnership with CTIA and support their IoT Cybersecurity Certification Program as we help manufacturers and developers develop secure connected devices.”

ITL Group Launches RFID Podcast

ITL Group has announced the launch of its retail RFID-related podcast, Retail Talks, the company’s first podcast focused on navigating the transforming nature of retail with a focus on radio frequency identification. The podcast is hosted by Philip Lassner, ITL’s VP of RFID solutions.

The first episode, “The Blurring Line Between Digital and Physical Retail,” was released online on Sept. 4. In the podcast, Lassner and Carl Boutet, the chief strategist and board adviser at Studio RX, discuss why this trend is occurring and how it can help retailers succeed.

Lassner, a retail innovator and RFID+ Certified Professional, began his career in retail systems and branding solutions. Before the RFID market began greatly expanding, the company indicates, he recognized the need for retail inventory accuracy—and, more specifically, how RFID could fill that void.

“When our brand wins and grows, we at ITL do as well,” says Sabine Watson, ITL Group’s global brand manager. “That’s why we want to ensure they are always empowered with our knowledge and expertise at their fingertips.”