RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

RFID ticket provider FineLine Technologies acquires Consolidated Printing; Datamars launches integration software for self-deployed RFID laundry system; ViewTag chooses Powercast chipset for RFID-BLE bag tag; Telensa, LIGMAN provide smart street lighting, smart city sensing in APAC; Pulse Secure, Nozomi Networks team up for secure IIoT connectivity; IoT company KORE acquires Integron; IKEA joins Zigbee Alliance board of directors; Ergosense, Thingstream partner on IoT facility-management solution.

image_pdfimage_print

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
FineLine Technologies, Consolidated Printing;
Datamars;
ViewTag, Powercast;
Telensa, LIGMAN;
Pulse Secure, Nozomi Networks;
KORE, Integron;
IKEA, the Zigbee Alliance;
Ergosense, and Thingstream.

RFID Ticket Provider FineLine Technologies Acquires Consolidated Printing

FineLine Technologies has announced that it has acquired Consolidated Printing Inc. (CPI), a provider of printed tickets for professional and collegiate sporting events and major entertainment and event venues throughout the United States.

This acquisition marks FineLine’s entry into event management, enabling the company to leverage its data-management and RFID capabilities to improve ticketing processes. The company says it hopes to expand into additional industry vertical segments that require stringent data-management and reporting functionalities and are apt to undergo continued logistics optimization.

“The acquisition of CPI will allow FineLine to offer its advanced data-management and RFID production capabilities to the sports, entertainment and event-ticketing industries. Similar to other verticals, we see this industry moving rapidly from conventional printed tickets to RFID-enabled smart tickets, as evidenced by the NFL’s recent decision to adopt RFID-enabled ticketing,” said George Hoffman, FineLine’s chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement. “Since 1991, CPI has built an incredible business by providing high-quality tickets to more than half of the teams in the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA, as well as to some of the most famous events and venues in entertainment, including the Emmy Awards, Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall.”

Curtis Howells and William McKeever, CPI’s co-CEOs, view FineLine as a partner to help the company grow its business. “Our customers are increasingly inquiring about smart ticketing and its ability to enhance fan engagement, reduce ticket fraud and improve security. We are proud to say that in 2019, we successfully transitioned more than half of the NFL teams from conventional paper tickets to RFID-enabled smart tickets,” Howells said in the prepared statement. “FineLine shares our commitment to providing excellent customer service, rapid delivery and innovative solutions. We are excited to leverage FineLine’s RFID capabilities and data-management solutions as we continue to grow our business.”

Datamars Launches Integration Software for Self-Deployed RFID Laundry System

Datamars has announced a solution intended to let laundry managers self-deploy RFID textile identification technology that can be integrated with their existing management or accounting software. The solution, known as Cloudburst, runs on Datamars’ RFID readers, allowing laundry operations to avoid the need for complex interfacing requirements. Cloudburst is freely downloadable on Datamars’ Textile ID website and comes with an evaluation license that allows users to test its functions for up to 1,000 tags.

“The complexity of integrating an RFID system with existing laundry IT systems is often overlooked, leading to unforeseen development costs and poor reading performance,” said Andrea Carbonetti, Datamars’ senior UHF product engineer and Cloudburst development team leader, in a prepared statement. “Laundries are turning to RFID solutions to help stand out among competitors and achieve performance benefits, but fitting such a system into their existing management or accounting software is a fundamental part of the RFID package to make the most of its potential. Cloudburst guarantees a perfect integration into existing software solutions in a matter of minutes.”

The company’s UHF RFID LaundryChips are designed to withstand harsh environments, the company reports, and to help laundries control and assign laundry items. Cloudburst enables existing laundry-management or accounting software to receive clean and pre-processed data from RFID reads, so that this information can be applied to reports or billing. In addition, the solution automatically configures the RFID parameters of each reading system, so as to facilitate the automation of managing tagged textiles.

Cloudburst offers pre-configured modes, depending on what reading system is being installed, and can be set up and managed via a Web browser. The software supports a range of communication interfaces, protocols and data formats, the company notes, so an RFID solution can be configured with virtually any local- or cloud-based laundry IT system within minutes.

Cloudburst is intended to overcome some common issues linked with other software-integration solutions. Alternative options often require RFID system controls to be installed in the laundry IT system via an extra software module, but as these systems are not primarily designed to handle real-time processes, RFID and automation performance can be poor. The resulting solution can be difficult to master and understanding reading performance can pose a challenge.

“Integrating an RFID solution into an existing IT system is critically important, so this needs to be carefully considered when implementing such a package. Cloudburst is an essential building block, improving efficiency and providing clean data ready for the laundry business. You do not even need to make any changes to your laundry management or accounting software, because it provides a seamless and effortless integration in almost 100 percent of cases,” Carbonetti said in the prepared statement.

ViewTag Chooses Powercast Chipset for RFID-BLE Bag Tag

Powercast, a provider of RF-based long-range wireless power technology, has announced that ViewTag, a supplier of electronic bag tags, has selected its Powerharvester Chipset for battery management. This will enable ViewTag’s Electronic Bag Tag (EBT) to be reused more than 3,000 times.

The digital ViewTag can be snapped onto luggage and allows customers to tag their own bags, thereby reducing their airport check-in experience to a simple bag drop. British Airways is the first airline to roll out ViewTag to its customers, the company reports, with more expected to do so in 2020. Passengers can use their Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and the airline’s app to check in, get their boarding pass and synchronize their itinerary to their tag. Passengers can also transfer the tag between bags.

ViewTag is equipped with RFID, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a digital display, a lithium battery and the Powerharvester Chipset, which comprises a wireless power RF-to-DC converter chip and a boost-converter IC. Powercast’s technology preserves the battery by keeping the tag dormant until it detects and harvests RF energy over the air from nearby airport RFID scanning equipment, at which time it updates the screen with the passenger’s itinerary.

Telensa, LIGMAN Provide Smart Street Lighting, Smart City Sensing in APAC

Telensa and LIGMAN have announced that they have signed a partnership agreement to combine aesthetic LED luminaires and wireless controls. Energy and carbon reduction is increasingly at the forefront of many cities’ agendas, the companies report, with the next step being to switch lighting to LEDs. Wireless controls can maximize the benefits of LEDs, they explain, generating energy and maintenance cost-savings, while futureproofing smart-city sensing.

“Cities across Asia Pacific are increasingly adopting wireless controls. Over the past couple of years, Telensa has deployed smart street lighting in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere,” said Will Gibson, Telensa’s chief commercial officer, in a prepared statement. “Partnering with LIGMAN will satisfy the industry’s need for high-end luminaires and wireless controls in a market where true commitment is being shown to the promise of smart-city technologies.”

“We are pleased to be working with Telensa, the market leader in smart street lighting. Together, we will be able to offer a turnkey smart solution to the benefit of cities across the region,” said Sakchai Manawongsakul, LIGMAN’s president and group CEO, in the prepared statement.

Pulse Secure, Nozomi Networks Team Up for Secure IIoT Connectivity

Pulse Secure, a provider of software-defined secure-access solutions, and Nozomi Networks, a supplier of OT and IoT security solutions, have announced an integration to extend the zero-trust protection provided by the Pulse Secure Access Suite to the Industrial Internet of Things, as well as ICS and OT technologies. The joint solution extends the discovery and classification of a range of IIoT devices, end-to-end visibility, continuous monitoring and analysis of the OT environment for potential threats and automated network isolation after an indication of compromise.

According to a recent IoT Analytics report, 50 percent of industrial assets in factories will be connected to some form of on-premise or remote data-collection system, the companies explain, with IT and OT convergence is opening up cybersecurity gaps in manufacturing organizations. Many OT systems were not designed for remote or internet access, so connectivity risks were not fully considered. IoT and OT devices are increasingly connected to OT environments, leaving them open to attack since such devices usually do not come with well-maintained or strong embedded security features.

These factors make a unified IT-OT cybersecurity solution like the Pulse Secure and Nozomi Networks integration imperative for organizations in the manufacturing, health-care and critical infrastructure sectors, the two companies indicate. The joint solution protects OT, ICS and IIoT infrastructure and leverages the Pulse Secure zero-trust model to enable organizations to securely bring IIoT devices from their classical OT isolation into the IT realm, in order to increase operational flexibility, reduce the amount of time required for troubleshooting, and improve overall uptime and productivity.

“Attackers increasingly use connectivity and IoT device exposures to scan the network for other exploitable targets that provide access to sensitive data or credentials, or enable operational disruption. Pulse Secure’s NAC solution provides the necessary visibility and policy-based access management to ensure appropriate IoT device onboarding, monitoring, segregation and risk mitigation,” said Prakash Mana, Pulse Secure’s VP of product management, in a prepared statement. “By integrating with Nozomi Networks, we can further extend native operational intelligence, access control and threat response capabilities of IIoT devices operating within OT and ICS environments .”

“As IT and OT networks become more interconnected, the attack surface for cyber-threats has expanded and is creating greater risk for the entire organization,” added Andrea Carcano, Nozomi Networks’ co-founder and CPO, in the prepared statement. “This integration with the Pulse Secure Access Suite, allows customers to leverage Nozomi Networks solutions to extend Pulse Secure’s zero trust protections across industrial IoT, ICS and OT networks.”

IoT Company KORE Acquires Integron

KORE, a global Internet of Things (IoT) company, has announced that it has acquired Integron, an IoT solutions and managed-services provider with a focus on the connected health market. Integron, founded in 1985, has offices in Rochester, N.Y. and Ulestraten, the Netherlands.

“Our mission is clear: to simplify the complexities of IoT as a trusted advisor to our customers as we help them deploy, manage and scale their mission-critical IoT solutions,” said Romil Bahl, KORE’s president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “We are relentless in the pursuit of that mission and we are thrilled to broaden our scale and credentials with this acquisition. Integron is a respected company in IoT. Their expertise in serving key markets such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences has led to innovative IoT-enabled clinical trials and remote patient monitoring solutions. This acquisition also brings us some key certifications such as those from the ISO and FDA, uniquely positioning us ahead of our competition in regulated industries.”

The combined entity will leverage connectivity, managed services, and asset- and device-management tools to speed up IoT solution deployments, the company reports. “It is an exciting time for Integron and KORE to grow stronger together, powered by talented people, to deliver IoT innovation to our wonderful customers,” said Jeanne Pagani, Integron’s CEO and co-founder, in the prepared statement.

“Over more than two decades, we have been able to develop a strong competence in delivering IoT managed services in the most complex and compliance-intensive industries,” added Bryan Lubel, Integron’s president, in the statement. “The natural alignment of our businesses was uncanny; both Integron and KORE have become widely recognized in the IoT industry for bringing simplicity to complex IoT projects. The prospect of now adding scale and scope promises to benefit all of our partners and customers.”

IKEA Joins Zigbee Alliance Board of Directors

The Zigbee Alliance, an organization comprising hundreds of companies that create, maintain and provide open, global standards for the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced that IKEA has joined its Board of Directors as part of the retail company’s efforts to employ universal open IoT standards for its smart-home product offerings.

“The world is constantly changing, and our home furnishing designs are also ever-evolving with specific intent to create a better life at home for everyone,” said Ulf Axelsson, IKEA’s IoT architect, in a prepared statement. “Elevating our membership within the Zigbee Alliance to the board level enables our company to play a larger role in influencing the global IoT movement that’s connecting technology, design, and imagination. Our goal is to democratize smart home technology by offering affordable products to everyone.”

The IKEA Home Smart portfolio includes smart lighting, smart blinds, smart speakers and wireless accessories. In 2018, the company sold more than five million Zigbee devices, offering intelligent devices that allow consumers to transform and control living spaces. Its environmental emphasis and the collaborative nature between IKEA’s partners, divisions and employees will now be applied to measures currently under way via the Zigbee Alliance, the organization reports.

“As the curators of enjoyable home design and enriched living, IKEA is a tremendous gain to the Alliance leadership. Their ability to make imaginative, affordable connected home products accessible to consumers across all classes and categories forms the core of great connected device experiences,” said Tobin Richardson, the Zigbee Alliance’s president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “We’re excited for IKEA to bring that innovation and consumer-centricity to our open IoT standards, and help facilitate collaboration between smart products and the innovative companies behind them. Our shared commitment to align and move companies to open standards at product design is what helps ensure that all IoT products ‘just work’ once installed.”

Ergosense, Thingstream Partner on IoT Facility-Management Solution

Thingstream, an IoT communication-as-a-service provider, has announced a partnership with Ergosense, a supplier of on-premises facilities-management solutions. Ergosense provides devices designed to help identify and manage efficiencies within workspaces. Two companies say they realized that to connect devices that measure temperature, air quality, decibels, light and occupancy, connecting to the premises through Wi-Fi was too complicated, posed numerous security questions and was ultimately unreliable.

Due to its partnership with Thingstream, Ergosense can now manufacture its devices with Thingstream’s IoT solution embedded. This means its solutions are plug-and-connect, simplifying installation and maintenance for Ergosense’s distributors. Ergosense’s facilities-management IoT devices use a Bluetooth mesh network linked to the central “Doc” device—which, in turn, uses Thingstream to manage data flow via low-power GSM. Lighting, temperature and occupancy can all be managed remotely.

“Working internationally we had struggled with the GSM connectivity part of our facilities management solution,” said Leon Roodt, Ergosense’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “With Thingstream we no longer need to worry about providing the right SIM for the right country. We simply use Thingstream and we are connected anywhere. We are now truly plug-and-connect, and because of Thingstream’s predictable charging model we have consistent pricing models which we can pass on to our partners.”

“More and more IoT solution providers who work across multiple countries now recognise the simplicity and global reach Thingstream enables. Facilities management solutions like that from Ergosense have a massive commercial advantage as others grapple with connectivity,” added Neil Hamilton, Thingstream’s chief business development officer, in the prepared statement.