RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

SML unveils item-level RFID tagging and software package; Nordic ID intros RFID reader, IoT platform; Silicon Labs, Allegion collaborate on IoT security solutions; VMware announces new features for its Pulse IoT Center; NFC Forum to host event in China; Festicket acquires Event Genius and Ticket Arena; SensThys offers new RFID antennas; Nedap launches RFID Loss Prevention Academy.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
SML Group;
Nordic ID;
Silicon Labs, Allegion;
VMware;
the NFC Forum;
Festicket, Event Genius, Ticket Arena;
SensThys; and
Nedap.

SML Unveils Item-Level RFID Tagging and Software Package

SML RFID, an RFID solution provider, has announced the launch of its RFID TotalCare offering, an all-in-one systemic package of its item-level RFID tagging and software solutions. The new offering is aimed at retailers, the company reports, and is intended to simplify compliance and adoption.

According to SML, an estimated 12 percent of the retail apparel and footwear market will have implemented RFID by the end of this year, with 2020 anticipated to be the largest single year of adoption. However, many brand owners will be either adopting item-level RFID for the first time or expanding existing projects and facing challenges around how to effectively scale these solutions. In addition, an industry challenge has been the increasing number of brand owners facing new tagging mandates from retailers requiring them to source-tag the products they provide.

SML’s TotalCare suite is intended to help brand owners comply with such requirements. The all-in-one package provides a range of RFID solutions, including tag development within current product categories, source tagging at the factory level, process enhancement at factories and distribution centers, improved inventory accuracy at stores, and consulting services.

“Within the past eight months, we have seen more retailers and brand owners initiate meaningful adoption of item-level RFID across numerous distribution centers and thousands of stores,” said Dean Frew, SML’s CTO and senior VP of RFID solutions, in a prepared statement “However, many brand owners are learning about the technology for the first time and seeking ways to leverage it for business benefits rather than just meet the mandates. This, combined with emerging retailer mandates, can make the technology seem more complex than it is. As a result, we’re thrilled to launch SML’s TotalCare as a one-stop-shop for all retail RFID needs.”

Nordic ID Intros RFID Reader, IoT Platform

Nordic ID has launched a new handheld reader, the Android-based Nordic ID HH83, as well as its Radea Internet of Things (IoT) platform for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) applications. These products are designed to enable customers to track items and material flows in real time, Nordic ID reports.

For Nordic ID’s customers in fashion and apparel, sustainability has become an impactful competitive factor. As the processes for manufacturing clothes consume large amounts of natural resources, the firm explains, minimizing surplus and curbing overproduction become increasingly important to manufacturers.

“Our solutions provide our customers with more accurate and up-to-date information on their flow of goods, inventories and the product range in each store,” said Juha Reima, Nordic ID’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “We enable our customers to collect item data, as well as consolidate and analyze it, which helps them to make better decisions both from a sustainability standpoint as well as from a business perspective. When our retail customers have real-time information about their stock balance, they can serve their customers better—which is proven to correlate with a growth in sales.”

The HH83 handheld reader has a modular build, and the exchangeable front end enables RFID or barcode scanning. The option to turn the barcode reader into an RFID device, or the other way around, extends the device’s lifetime. The unit is the creation of industrial design professor Juhani Salovaara.

“The starting point for the design is the Nordic design principles: usability, ergonomics and timelessness,” Salovaara said in the prepared statement. “Everything stems from the needs of the end user. We want also this device to be part of our customers operations for many years to come.” The device is sturdy and durable, the company reports, with IP65 classification.

The Radea platform (short for real-time accurate data on enterprise assets) is designed for the real-time handling and consolidation of collected data. Radea is intended to provide companies with data and analytics regarding the movements and counts of their material and asset flows. When businesses have better insights into their asset flows, the company explains, they can decrease surplus, transportation and excess production.

Radea utilizes other sensor technologies besides RFID and can be integrated with customers’ existing ecosystems. “I’m very proud that we now extend our offering with these additions,” Reima added in the prepared statement. “They support our customers’ efforts to be more sustainable and efficient. Our aim is to further strengthen our position in the industry as a forerunner both technologically and as an enabler of sustainable values.”

Silicon Labs, Allegion Collaborate on IoT Security Solutions

Silicon Labs and Allegion, a provider of security solutions, have collaborated to expand Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities to security products for smart homes and commercial buildings. A growing number of Allegion solutions now use Silicon Labs’ Wireless Gecko IoT portfolio, which supports Zigbee, Bluetooth and Z-Wave connectivity.

“Connectivity has become an expected convenience that enhances the user experience across many products and solutions,” said Mark Lynn, Allegion’s VP of engineering for the Americas region, in a prepared statement. “At Allegion, we’re driving innovation in a traditional industry—one where we’ve been known to create strong mechanical offerings and have built trust that we deliver on ever-evolving customer needs. Working with Silicon Labs allows us to integrate proven, flexible wireless connectivity in locks and other security devices that meets our complex compliance, certification and market demands.”

Allegion recently worked with Silicon Labs to develop the Zigbee-certified Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt, a smart lock solution for consumers using a Zigbee-based home-automation system. When the system is paired with Key by Amazon and an Amazon Cloud Cam, a homeowner can remotely grant access to trusted visitors and family members, as well as opt in to in-home delivery.

This smart-home solution, designed to address the growing problem of package theft, features remote access management and hands-free voice assistants. Allegion uses Wireless Gecko in its Von Duprin RU/RM, a networked version of an exit device that can be cloud-connected. Intended for use in educational settings, the exit device can be locked and monitored remotely.

“Silicon Labs is proud to work alongside the industry pioneer Allegion to help the company create additional connectivity options for smart home and commercial building security solutions,” said Matt Saunders, Silicon Labs’ VP of marketing for IoT products, in the prepared statement. “Our Wireless Gecko hardware and software products provide flexible, high-performance connectivity, enabling Allegion to focus on product functionality and best-in-class security.”

VMware Announces New Features for Its Pulse IoT Center

VMware has announced the general availability of its Pulse IoT Center on-premise system. As organizations seek to accelerate their digital transformation journey at the edge, the number of connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) use cases is growing exponentially, the firm reports, and IoT management can be complex and difficult to execute at scale.

VMware’s new offering features automated device lifecycle management, extends IT security standards to IoT environments and enables customers to manage any app on any device at the edge. These capabilities are intended to enable companies to operate at enterprise-scale.

The solution provides customers with the choice of implementing Pulse IoT Center with a software as-a-service (SaaS) model or deploying it within an enterprise data center. With on-premise deployments, customers can integrate Pulse IoT Center with their existing IT services, standards, processes, and data-protection and governance mechanisms. The on-premise version delivers the same capabilities provided in the SaaS version, according to VMware. With the latest release, the firm is introducing additional capabilities focused on enhancing security, accelerating the device on-boarding process and extending container management to edge environments.

Features include secure device registration to reduce the complexity, cost and time for onboarding new devices at scale; support for the Intel Trusted Platform Module, enabling hardware-based root of trust on selected gateways, while lowering the risk of compromise; and the Pulse IoT Center Mobile App (iOS and Android), which allows technicians to scan a QR code and whitelist a gateway during the registration process. It also features capabilities for the distribution, monitoring and management of containers at the edge, to help customers move workloads like data processing and analytics to the edge, as well as ecosystem collaboration for added functionality, such as automatic discovery and the onboarding of connected IoT devices.

NFC Forum to Host Event in China

The NFC Forum has announced its NFC Forum Plugfest, to be held on Oct. 15-17, 2019, in Beijing. The event, hosted by China Telecommunication Technology Labs (CTTL), is designed to create a safe, real-world environment in which developers with NFC Forum-specified devices can verify device interaction across product implementations.

The event is designed to promote the interoperability of NFC Forum implementations by providing participants with an opportunity to verify the level of interaction of their own implementations with other NFC Forum member implementations and test tools. Attendees will be able to test, network and learn from Near Field Communication (NFC) industry experts. Members and non-members alike are encouraged to attend, the organization reports.

The Plugfest allows companies to participate in device-to-device interoperability testing and data sharing; verify NFC Forum reader devices against handsets with card emulation; verify mobile handsets against reader devices; assess devices using NFC Forum Validated Test Tools supporting the latest certification release, including Analog 2.1; test devices against readers; gain access to the Test Library (ITL), containing NFC tags and devices; verify interoperability between implementations developed to Digital Protocol 1.0, 1.1 or 2/0 and those supporting Digital Protocol 2.1; gain hands-on experience with tag certification tests; and network and connect with other NFC companies and experts.

Festicket Acquires Event Genius and Ticket Arena

Festicket, a platform for music festival experiences, has announced its acquisition of U.K.-based ticketing and cashless point-of-sale (POS) platform Event Genius. The sale also includes the consumer-facing brand Ticket Arena. The resultant company, known as Event Genius by Festicket, will provide a platform for organizers and fans alike, which will bring together technologies and expertise including ticketing, accommodation, travel and packages, marketing, data insights and analytics, access control, POS and cashless payment services, fan engagement tools and more.

Festicket, recently ranked by the Financial Times as Europe’s 80th fastest-growing company, enables music fans to book tickets and travel packages for more than 2,000 music festivals worldwide. Its marketplace brings together a network of nearly 6,000 accommodation and travel suppliers to create unique festival experiences for millions of festival-goers from around the world.

“The acquisition transforms Festicket’s product set,” said Zack Sabban, Festicket’s CEO and co-founder, in a prepared statement. “In Event Genius, we have found a company that shares our mission to be a disruptive force in the live entertainment market and—ultimately—to bring the best possible experiences to fans. Reshad [Hossenally] and the team have built a great product they have good reason to be proud of, and I look forward to welcoming them to the Festicket family.”

Hossenally, who will join Festicket as its chief supply chain officer, said in the prepared statement: “The Event Genius mission has always been to utilize technology to bring event organizers and consumers a better experience, regardless of the size or type of event. Couple this with Festicket’s global marketplace and supplier network and we have something truly unique for the events industry.”

SensThys Offers New RFID Antennas

SensThys, a designer and manufacturer of RFID solutions, has announced that it is launching a new variant of its SensRF-101 antenna. This IP67-rated polycarbonate radome, the company reports, is a 9dBic antenna with performance equivalent to that of the major industry players, with a list price of $63.

The first version, a right-hand circular-polarization (RHCP) antenna, was released last year. This is the default used by many in the industry, the firm explains, as it can read tags in random orientations. However, when these types of antenna are used in a portal, SensThys notes, two RHCP antennas facing each other can deteriorate their ability to be read well.

Thus, SensThys is introducing a companion antenna which is left-hand circular-polarized (LHCP). The benefit, according to the company, is that LHCP and RHCP antennas can face each other and transmit radiation at each other, and any tags in the middle can be read by either antenna.

The SensRF-101 line of antennas has a form factor of 10 inches by 10 inches. The antennas measure approximately 0.8 inch in thickness and include a mounted SMA connector. The LHCP antenna can be paired with its RHCP version when situated in a portal or used in other applications for which antennas directly face each other. The antennas will be made available on Sept. 9, the company reports, at a starting price of $73 for the LHCP model and $63 for the RHCP version.

Nedap Launches RFID Loss Prevention Academy

Nedap, a provider of RFID-based retail solutions, has launched its RFID Loss Prevention Academy, an online learning environment consisting of free online courses, study guides and tests. The academy is designed to help retail executives develop critical skills, test knowledge and demonstrate expertise in the area of RFID-based loss prevention.

“Reduction in inventory due to shoplifting, employee theft or other errors significantly impacts a retailer’s bottom line—to the tune of nearly $100 billion annually in direct losses worldwide,” said Rob Schuurman, Nedap’s managing director, in a prepared statement. “Regardless of where retail operations are located, shrink is a universal foe. Nowadays, RFID is the technology that enables retailers to prevent losses. With this e-learning, we at Nedap are sharing our expertise in the field of RFID technology. This will help retailers to gain more understanding in the area of RFID-based EAS [electronic article surveillance], enabling them to reduce the impact of losses affecting the retail industry.”

RFID-based EAS technology, Nedap explains, offers real-time understanding of what, when and how specific items go missing, by integrating item-level inventory and loss-prevention data. The technology can track and manage retail shrinkage from source to store in real time, as well as facilitate secured and seamless checkouts, create unique shopper experiences with open entrances, differentiate between actual store shrinkage and other forms of inventory distortion, pinpoint shrink sources in stores and along the retail supply chain, respond directly to alarms using an app and analyze system data to predict potential shrinkage vulnerabilities.

A growing number of retailers and brands are choosing RFID to gain insights into their inventory at the item level and thus ensure optimal product availability. According to Nedap, the foundation of most RFID implementations is that all items are provided with an RFID label at the source of production, and the same RFID label can provide inventory management and item security. This means no additional loss-prevention efforts are needed, the company explains, since stock is already 100 percent security-tagged from the source, and it eliminates additional in-store tagging costs while allowing retailers to unlock omnichannel such services as secured mobile checkout.

At the RFID Loss Prevention Academy, visitors can follow free online courses regarding radio frequency identification. They can learn at their own pace in courses taught by Nedap’s experts, as well as discuss topics in the company’s online community. With no set semester or quarter system, learning takes place according to each individual’s schedule. For more information, visit nedap-retail.com/academy.