RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

HID Global debuts Mini SlimFlex and Embeddable PCB Coin tags ••• IDTronic announces new smartphone with high-frequency NFC RFID reader ••• Nordic ID launches new RFID area reader ••• Google's Edition Series of smartphone cases feature Smartrac NFC RFID tags ••• Identiv launches Internet of Things access-control solution with Cisco ••• Swirl intros new Bluetooth beacon with longer battery life.


The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
HID Global;
Nordic ID;
Smartrac, Google, Cellotape Smart Products;
Identiv, Cisco; and
Swirl Networks.

HID Global Adds Mini SlimFlex Tags, Embeddable PCB Coins to UHF RFID Product Line

HID Global reports that it has expanded its RFID product line with mini versions of its SlimFlex and SlimFlex Seal tags that are approximately one-third the size of the original versions, in order to accommodate the tagging of smaller assets. The company has also announced the addition of two PCB Coin tags to its Embeddable RFID line. All four new products comply with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags.

Left: HID’s SlimFlex Mini tag (top) and UHF Mini Seal tag. Right: HID’s PCB Coin tags.

Both new SlimFlex tags are made with Alien Technology‘s Higgs3 chip and are housed in bendable thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material that earns the tags an IP 68 rating, meaning they are dust-proof and waterproof. The SlimFlex Mini tag (model 69899A) measures 2.5 inches by 0.5 inch by 0.08 inch (65 millimeters by 12 millimeters by 2 millimeters), and can be mounted with a cable tie, glue, rivet or screw. The new SlimFlex Seal UHF Mini (model 69899A-202) tag measures 2.4 inches by 0.5 inch by 0.08 inch (60 millimeters by 12 millimeters by 2 millimeters), and features an integrated nylon cable tie that is 7.8 inches by 0.1 inch by 0.05 inch (200 millimeters by 2.5 millimeters by 1.2 millimeters) in length. Its maximum read range is 16.4 feet (5 meters).

HID Global has added to its Embeddable RFID product family a near-field UHF offering that, according to the company, gives manufacturers the opportunity to integrate RFID components into their products. The new PCB Coin tags are made with Impinj Monza 4E chips, have an IP 68 rating and can withstand exposure to temperatures of 284 degrees Fahrenheit (140 degrees Celsius) for 100 continuous hours or 428 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius) for 30 continuous seconds. Such ruggedness permits the tags to be used in harsh conditions and in such applications as plastic injection. The PCB Coin tags are available in two shapes. The circular version is 0.63 inch (16 millimeters) in diameter and supports a read range of 7.8 inches (20 centimeters). The oval version measures 0.75 inch by 0.47 inch (19 millimeters by 12 millimeters) and offers a read range of 10 inches (25 centimeters).

IDTronic Announces New Smartphone With High-Frequency NFC RFID Reader

IDTronic, an RFID manufacturer headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany, has announced the SM09, a handheld computer and Android-based dual-subscriber identity module (SIM) card smartphone with a built-in high-frequency (HF) RFID reader. The reader operates at 13.56 MHz and supports both the ISO 14443 and ISO 15693 standards.

IDTronic’s SM09

The SM09 smartphone features a 4.3-inch touchscreen, a high-speed 1D and 2D bar-code scanner, a 2MP front camera and a 5MP autofocusing back camera. It has an IP-68 rating, which means it is watertight and dustproof. The smartphone has a rechargeable 3000mAh battery and comes with GSM and WCDMA technology. Multi-channel data and voice communication options guarantee real-time communication and data efficiency, the company reports. The SMO9 is certified for European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regions and is available with a yellow, green or black housing.

In addition, the company has announced updates to its NFC Mobile Phone Sticker, unveiled in October 2011 (see RFID News Roundup: IDTronic Announces NFC Mobile-Phone Sticker), that is specially designed to work on any mobile phones. The sticker supports the ISO 14443 and ISO 18092 NFC standards, and can be attached to all models of mobile phones with a plastic or metal housing, via residue-free glue tape. It now supports more inlays, according to IDTronic.

Nordic ID Launches New RFID Readers

Nordic ID has announced a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader with an integrated beam-steerable antenna. According to Nordic ID, its AR55 reader supports nine reading areas (sectors), each defined by two separate beams (X and Y). The beams can be individually and easily configured, the company reports, which enables the adjustment of each sector. The reader’s antenna structure is designed to maximize the reading accuracy and enable reading in large areas, the firm indicates. For example, it can be included in RFID-based gate solutions or for monitoring a designated area, for tracking tagged items to provide on-demand visibility, as well as detect location and movement.

The company reports that the AR55 has undergone a series of testing, and has been piloted both in retail and industrial environments. Use cases include area monitoring, RFID gate solutions, fitting rooms and movement detection.

Nordic ID’s AR55 reader

The new reader supports the ISO 18000-6C and EPC Class 1 Gen 2 specifications and provides a typical reading speed of 200 tags per second in DRM-mode, according to Nordic ID. It offers local area network (LAN) connectivity via Ethernet 10/100 Mbit and PAN connectivity via a USB 2.0 device. Optional support for IEEE 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN connectivity is also available.

Nordic ID says it will deliver launch AR (Area Reader) products within the next six months. Its AR52 fixed reader, equipped with 16 external antenna ports that can be separately controlled and adjusted, is expected to ship by the end of the fourth quarter of this year. Nordic ID’s AR85, a multifunctional fixed reader that can act as a beam reader and also has the capability of running local applications from memory, will ship by the end of first quarter of 2016. The company’s AR82, a multi-purpose fixed reader with 16 external antenna ports and the capability of running local applications from memory, will ship during the first quarter of next year.

In addition, Nordic ID has launched a new handheld computer: the Medea UHF RFID Adaptive Cross Dipole One-series. According to the company, the device’s RFID antenna allows reading to be optimized for specific use cases, whether close-range proximity, long-range reading or maximized inventory speed is required. The device features an ergonomic, well-balanced pistol grip, Nordic ID reports, along with a high-capacity battery so it can be used comfortably for longer than a full working day.

The Nordic ID Medea UHF RFID Adaptive Cross Dipole One-series has three reading modes: linear polarization (horizontal and vertical), for maximum RFID reading distance; circular polarization, for optimizing the RFID reading speed; and proximity, for reading and writing tags within a 1-meter (3.3-foot) distance.

Nordic ID says it will present its new RFID products in booth #6 at this year’s RFID Journal LIVE! Europe conference and exhibition, being held in London on Nov. 9-10.

Google’s Edition Series of Smartphone Cases Feature Smartrac NFC RFID Tags

Smartrac has announced that Google‘s Edition series of hard cases, first unveiled in May 2015 for its Nexus 6 smartphone and other selected models, contain Smartrac Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags that enable the cases to interact with the phones.

The Skrillex Live Case

The Skrillex Live Case has an integrated Smartrac Circus NFC tag, which ensures that the phone knows exactly which case was put on and when, and downloads and installs wallpapers and content that match the case design, according to Smartrac. Sonny Moore, the producer and DJ better known as “Skrillex, Baron of Bangarang,” provided ideas for the artwork. Smartrac partner Cellotape Smart Products contributed to the design and manufacturing of an on-demand NFC shortcut button that utilizes the Smartrac tag. The shortcut button provides users with one-touch access to information or apps they want. For example, Google explains, the button can be set to launch the phone’s camera, open any apps or visit Skrillex’s website. The NFC technology also enables live wallpaper that extends the case design onto the screen and updates throughout the course of the day, showing images of the Earth shot from the stratosphere. At night, it changes to display constellations visible from the user’s current location.

Each case is individually numbered, and cases have been designed for Google’s Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 phones, as well as Samsung‘s Galaxy S5, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 4 models, according to Smartrac. The new Edition Line cases are available in limited quantities via the Google Store.

Identiv, Cisco Launch Internet of Things Access-Control Solution

Identiv has announced the launch of its Identiv Connected Physical Access Manager (ICPAM) solution, a distributed intelligent premises access-control solution designed to provide secure access to facilities using standards-based networking.

According to Identiv, ICPAM software is tightly integrated Cisco technology, including routers, switches, Cisco Video Surveillance Manager and Cisco IP telephony. It employs standard network topology and is backwards-compatible for legacy wiring topologies and devices. ICPAM can become part of an organization’s intelligent information network, Identiv reports, allowing monitoring and information exchange between devices as an intelligent platform that grows as an organization requires it.

ICPAM user interface

The ICPAM solution includes a Power-over-Ethernet (POE)-enabled local door controller, a multi-frequency RFID door reader and sensor, and management software. The ICPAM solution is available immediately through Cisco Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) partners.

“Premises solutions are evolving from proprietary bespoke systems to part of an interconnected environmental ecosystem,” said Jason Hart, Identiv’s president, in a prepared statement. “ICPAM provides a path to intelligent buildings that provide traditional access control while also providing a path towards a platform that connects and collects information from an array of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors.”

Swirl Intros New Bluetooth Beacon With Longer Battery Life

Swirl Networks, an in-store mobile marketing company, has announced the 4XAA, a new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon that provides a six-year battery life, support for multiple beacon communication protocols and a full suite of tools for managing large-scale beacon networks. The new model, according to Swirl, is designed to reduce deployment complexity and maintenance costs for retailers.

The 4XAA complements Swirl’s marketing platform, which leverages BLE beacons to deliver targeted content and offers to consumers’ smartphones, based on their specific location and behavior at the store. It leverages Texas Instruments (TI)’s SimpleLink CC2640 wireless microcontroller (MCU), which Swirl says uses 40 percent less energy than chipsets used by most other beacon vendors and features an integrated real-time clock with standby mode that lets retailers turn transmissions off during non-business hours.

Swirl’s 4XAA beacon

Powered by four AA batteries, the beacon weighs 160 grams (6 ounces) with batteries installed, and measures 8 centimeters by 8 centimeters by 2 centimeters (3.15 inches by 3.15 inches by 0.98 inch). It supports automated provisioning and bulk configuration capabilities for rapid large-scale beacon deployment; encrypted beacon broadcasts that provide protection against beacon hacking, cloning and spoofing; and over-the-air firmware updates that enable automated access to the latest beacon protocols and technology advances, without the need for costly manual intervention.

Swirl’s beacons are compatible with multiple industry-standard beacon protocols, including Apple iBeacon, Google Eddystone and Swirl SecureCast. The company also offers a cloud-based software platform for real-time beacon monitoring and remote beacon configuration. Swirl’s Beacon Manager app enables beacon testing and location mapping by store associates or authorized servicing agents.