RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Balluff offers configurator tool to help businesses build RFID systems; iDTRONIC intros mobile handheld RFID reader for explosive environments; Longview IoT, Informa Engage unveil IoT implementation trends survey; IoTium announces IIoT partner ecosystem; PsiKick rebrands to Everactive, raises funding for batteryless IIoT solutions; Hazelcast obtains funding for in-memory computing platform for IoT; IoT company MultiTech Systems wins LoRa Alliance Corporate Award.

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Under Armour to Present at RFID Journal LIVE! Retail 2019

RFID Journal announced today that teammates from global footwear and sportswear company Under Armour will speak during a session at RFID Journal LIVE! Retail 2019, titled “Under Armour Shares Its RFID Journey—’Make it, Move it, Sell it.'” The event will be held on June 25-27 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. The Under Armour session will take place on June 26 at 10:15 AM and will be moderated by Avery Dennison, one of the world’s leading UHF RFID solution providers to retail and other key sectors. Click here for more information.

In addition, presented below are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Balluff;
iDTRONIC;
Longview IoT, Informa Engage;
IoTium;
PsiKick;
Hazelcast;
MultiTech Systems, and the LoRa Alliance.

Balluff Offers Configurator Tool to Help Businesses Build RFID Systems

Balluff has announced an online RFID configurator tool that allows users to select the product combinations required for configuring an RFID system to meet specific application needs.

Users can select the primary driver of their application—data carrier (tag or chip), read-write head (antenna) or processor—and the configurator will filter selections to only those tested and proven to work together.

Products can be filtered by required frequency—high-frequency (BIS M), low-frequency (BIS L) and Balluff’s proprietary low-frequency for machine tool identification (BIS C), as well as by data carrier mounting options—as well as by whether they are metal-free, non-flush or flush.

Once a system has been built to meet an application’s needs, users can add products to the online cart, where they can view availability and pricing or export the product list to an Excel or CSV file. Additional products will be added to the configurator tool as they are released.

iDTRONIC Intros Mobile Handheld RFID Reader for Explosive Environments

iDTRONIC, a supplier of handheld RFID readers, has launched a mobile handheld reader for potentially explosive areas. The C2 ATEX features ATEX Class II certification and is resistant to chemical substances, harsh environments containing high dust levels, and rockfalls. Typical applications include explosive areas, chemicals, petroleum, construction and mining.

The C2 ATEX is equipped with an HF RFID and Near Field Communication (NFC) reader. The 13.56 MHz frequency is suitable for near-field identification of up to 60 centimeters. The reader interrogates all transponders and tags complying with the ISO 14443 A/B standards: MIFARE Classic 1K/4K, MIFARE Ultralight, MIFARE Ultralight C, NTAG 21x, MIFARE DESFire, Fudan 1K and more. An integrated 1D barcode scanner reads all typical barcodes, while a 2D barcode imager reads UPC/EAN, Bookland EAN, UCC Coupon Code, ISSN EAN, Code 128, GS1-128, ISBT 128, Code 39, Code 32, Code 93, Code 11, TLC-39, QR code, Micro QR Code, Aztec, MaxiCode, Postal Codes, UK Postal and Dutch Postal.

The C2 ATEX comes with the Android 7.0 operating system, a dual SIM function and a fingerprint reader. As a result, it can be used both as a normal smartphone and as an RFID reader. It features multiple communication interfaces, such as WLAN, 4G LTE, Bluetooth and GPS; a 4,000 mAh battery (optionally, an 8,000 mAh battery can be ordered); an integrated Octa-Core MT6753 processor; 2 GB of memory; and a storage capacity of 16 GB, making it suitable for documentation processes. The device has a MicroSD card slot for memory expansion of up to 32 GB.

The handheld is similar to a standard smartphone due to its slim dimensions and 5.0″ display. It is built to withstand falls from a height of 1.2 meters and temperature environments ranging from -20 degrees to +60 degrees Celsius, and the company says it is suitable for use in harsh environments. Its integrated IP67 protection class signifies that it is protected against splashed water and dust particles.

The reader can be used underground with an integrated GPS function as a locating device. Using its integrated 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, individuals can photographically document rock types and structures. Communication between underground workers and aboveground employees can be accomplished by means of the reader’s 4G LTE and WLAN functions, which help to facilitate quick completion of underground construction.

Longview IoT, Informa Engage Unveil IoT Implementation Trends Survey

Organizations, including those that have already implemented Internet of Things (IoT) projects, are struggling to understand the concrete business benefits of the IoT, according to a study released by Longview IoT and Informa Engage. The “IoT Implementation Trends Survey” indicates that enterprise organizations across all vertical industries, and of all sizes, require significant education to understand the more specific business outcomes that the IoT can offer.

The results indicate that connecting the dots between IoT technologies and the problems they solve remains a challenge. For example, when asked about the benefits of the IoT, organizations tend to cite nonspecific results such as cost savings, increased productivity and better operational efficiency, instead of precise goals such as improving worker safety, conducting predict¬ive maintenance, solving billing issues, avoiding cost overruns, and tracking valuable equipment.

The IoT is all about the data collected, according to the report, and what organizations do with that data to improve their processes. “The desire to control costs and boost productivity and efficiency is understandable, but that doesn’t just happen,” the survey indicated. “It’s through the capture and use of data that organizations can real¬ize those benefits.”

Selecting IoT solutions remains a challenge for most organizations, the survey found. Overall, it indicated that 84 percent of organizations have already implemented IoT technologies or are planning to do so within three years. However, among those who have already implemented IoT solutions, 54 percent said they could use “a lot more research and guid¬ance,” while 15 percent indicated they “wouldn’t know where to start” when it comes to select¬ing IoT solutions. Approximately 37 percent of respondents who have already implemented IoT technologies reported that they feel confident they would know which solutions to choose if they were to begin planning a new IoT project.

“The IoT remains complex for enterprise organizations,” said Brad Bush, Longview IoT’s managing director, in a prepared statement. “Companies want to move quickly to deploy IoT solutions and see real business benefit but are stymied by the lack of solutions that can help them quickly accomplish these goals. The survey results indicate that market needs the right partners with comprehensive solutions that take away much of the guessing, and just work, right out of the box, for the specific application they have in mind.”

The top four implementation barriers reported for organizations were cost (37 percent), security (37 percent), lack of expertise (36 percent) and poor understanding of benefits (35 percent). Half of the respondents said they handle IoT projects in-house. Forty percent use a systems integrator, 35 percent employ mul¬tiple vendors and 34 percent utilize an IoT solutions provider.

Thirty-nine percent of participants—both those planning IoT implementations and those who have already implemented solutions—said they need to collect data in real time. However, if those who need data “every few minutes” (19 percent) are added, the total jumps to 58 percent. Companies are seeing IoT as less hype and more real—just 3 percent of the participating companies said they believe the IoT to be hype, while 47 percent said it will substantially improve their competitiveness.

The “IoT Implementation Trends Survey” can be downloaded here.

IoTium Announces IIoT Partner Ecosystem

IoTium, a commercially deployed software-defined converged infrastructure company for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), has announced a partner ecosystem to optimize the building occupancy experience. With edge applications from ThoughtWire, Cohesion and SkyFoundry deployed on ioTium’s cloud-managed infrastructure, customers can control a range of comforts, conveniences and efficiencies in the built environment.

The IoT, along with expectations for more personalized, intuitive building environments, is giving rise to the so-called occupancy experience—how users experience built environments. This includes having greater insights into building performance, the development and offering of new services, better resource tracking, improved space management, a more proactive service model and more efficient energy usage. The edge applications gather building data from sensors and funnel it to the partners’ respective clouds, delivering insights into building operations and enabling control over HVAC, lighting, security, parking meters, conference room availability, chiller temperatures and more.

“IoTium’s secure access gateway and wealth of expertise enables us to bring world-leading building and portfolio intelligence to the commercial real estate market,” said Thru Shivakumar, Cohesion’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “Through our partnership with ioTium, COHESION is the only platform that extracts information from every major data source in a building, connecting human interactions, systems and infrastructure to harness powerful insights for enhanced building experiences.”

“We’re excited to be part of ioTium’s partner ecosystem, which brings together the leading organizations in the industry,” said Mike Monteith, ThoughtWire’s CEO, in the prepared statement. “Together, we are pushing past the boundaries of traditional building environments to collect data that will create secure, intuitive and intelligent spaces.”

“The explosion in IoT connected devices creates tremendous opportunities to generate value from the device data,” added John Petze, a principal at SkyFoundry, in the statement. “Secure communication is an essential element, and the ioTium solution provides customers with an entirely new approach to implement a secure communications infrastructure. We are excited to have SkySpark validated to run on the ioTium infrastructure.”

PsiKick Rebrands to Everactive, Raises Funding for Batteryless IIoT Solutions

PsiKick, a provider of wireless, batteryless Internet of Things (IoT) systems, has announced that it has changed its name to Everactive and has closed a $30 million funding round, led by Future Fund, as well as investors Blue Bear Capital, ABB Technology Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Osage University Partners. The company has raised $63 million to date.

“Removing the need for batteries solves one of the key limitations of the IoT and represents a fundamental paradigm shift, allowing our customers to deploy wireless sensors at scale and gain access to new, high-value data-driven insights,” said Bob Nunn, Everactive’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “Over the last 18 months Everactive has productized our ultra-low-power silicon technology and developed a compelling go-to-market strategy that is now driving rapid customer adoption. Everactive will use the proceeds from the new round to meet the growing customer demand for our existing and future products.”

The applications for batteryless sensing are vast, the company reports, enabling a great deal of connected data from the physical world that stands to dwarf online data repositories, which are composed primarily of user-generated, digitally native data. Everactive’s initial target market is the industrial sector, in which collecting and analyzing data about physical equipment and infrastructure can reduce downtime, lower maintenance costs, improve safety and environmental impact, and boost efficiency.

“We have long been aware of the value of wireless sensing for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance but, in many environments, the logistics and economics of battery-powered sensors have not made sense,” said Grant Allen, the head of ABB Technology Ventures, in the prepared statement. “Everactive opens up a range of possibilities for truly maintenance-free sensing at broad scale and ABB is excited to deepen our partnership and introduce Everactive’s monitoring solutions to our customers.”

In late 2018, Everactive launched its first product, Steam Trap Monitor, which is designed to continuously monitor the pervasive industrial and district energy steam trap in order to determine whether or not the trap has failed so that maintenance personnel can act to minimize energy waste and safety concerns. The batteryless approach to this multi-billion-dollar market has proven successful with customers, the firm indicates. Its products include the Machine Health Monitor, which analyzes vibration on rotating equipment, such as industrial motors, pumps and fans, and the Flare System Monitor, which mitigates the length and costs of flaring events in refineries.

“The data insights derived from Everactive’s maintenance-free monitoring solutions will quantifiably improve companies’ asset optimization, operational efficiency, and environmental footprint throughout the energy sector,” said Ernst Sack, a partner at Blue Bear Capital, in the prepared statement. “Moreover, the ability to extend Everactive’s technology to new products and markets was key to our investment thesis.”

Hazelcast Obtains Funding for In-Memory Computing Platform for IoT

Hazelcast, the provider of an in-memory computing platform known as System of Now, has announced that it has closed a $21 million funding round led by new investor C5 Capital, a U.K.-based venture capital firm focused on cybersecurity, data analytics and cloud computing. Existing investors Bain Capital Ventures, Earlybird Venture Capital and Capital One Growth Ventures also participated in the round.

With this new investment, Hazelcast will accelerate progress on its product roadmap and bolster go-to-market capabilities, including strategic partnering. This latest funding round brings Hazelcast’s total to $37.6 million to-date. According to Gartner, the company reports, “Digital business model imperatives are demanding cost-effective support for real-time analytics, hyperscale architectures and fast access to data demanded by digital business models, which in turn drives fast growth for most in-memory computing (IMC)-enabling technologies and IMC-enabled architectures.”

“From cloud to the internet of things, the macro trends hitting today’s enterprises require a new approach to data processing for meeting the time-sensitive demands of data-centric applications,” said Kelly Herrell, Hazelcast’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “Hazelcast enables its customers to establish a System of Now through its platform that scales linearly and delivers the industry’s fastest processing for stored and streaming data, leaving competitive offerings far behind as data sizes and processing loads grow.”

A System of Now is an ultra-fast processing architecture for mission-critical applications for which speed matters. Hazelcast reports that data-centric companies worldwide complement their systems of record, such as databases, by creating a System of Now that operates in near-real time to accelerate such applications as online stores, fraud detection, online trading and other customer-facing use cases. The System of Now uses in-memory computing to process data at high speed and scale, especially for new data-centric workloads.

IoT Company MultiTech Systems Wins LoRa Alliance Corporate Award

MultiTech Systems, a global supplier of M2M and IoT communication solutions, has received the LoRa Alliance‘s Corporate Award. The award, announced at the LoRaWAN Live event in Berlin, was voted on by Alliance members to recognize LoRa Alliance Member organizations for outstanding corporate leadership and contribution to the LoRa Alliance.

“The success of an industry alliance depends on the active participation of its members,” said Donna Moore, the LoRa Alliance’s CEO and chairwoman, in a prepared statement. “Since the founding of the LoRa Alliance, MultiTech has been active across the full breadth of our organization and integral to the Alliance’s success. In recognition of MultiTech’s contributions, they were selected to receive the prestigious Corporate Award, presented at the Annual LoRa Alliance meeting in Berlin.”

“The unique profile of LoRaWAN is opening the door to a host of new IoT applications and, as a result, our industry-leading and award-winning LoRA technology-based product line represents the fastest growing part of our portfolio,” added Stefan Lindvall, the MultiTech’s CEO, in the prepared statement. “As LoRaWAN is a strategic imperative for MultiTech, we are committed to continue making investments to enhance and accelerate the delivery of products and services designed to achieve the promise of unlicensed LPWA technology, in tandem with the commercialization of licensed cellular LPWA offerings.”

“MultiTech is a well-recognized first mover and leader in the LPWA space, having achieved the first LoRaWAN Certification for North America, and outpaced their peers’ for growth of both end points and gateways in this fast-moving technology frontier,” said industry analyst James Brehm, the chief technology evangelist at James Brehm & Associates, in the statement. “Their active participation in Alliance initiatives gives them a ground-floor perspective on where the technology is going, while their close relationships with early enterprise adopters and ecosystem partners provides insights into the needs of the market in order to build fit-for-purpose solutions. When it comes to LoRaWAN, they are making all the right moves.”