RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Atlas RFID Solutions launches new track-and-trace software; JADAK releases handheld barcode scanner with RFID functionality; Silicon Labs, Notion partner on IoT smart-home sensor; BehrTech intros wireless IIoT connectivity brand and product family; LoRa Alliance expands LoRaWAN certification program for IoT devices; ABI Research report says IoT tech taking root in agriculture.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
Atlas RFID Solutions;
JADAK;
Silicon Labs, Notion;
BehrTech;
the LoRa Alliance; and
ABI Research.

Atlas RFID Solutions Launches New Track-and-Trace Software

Atlas RFID Solutions, a provider of material-readiness solutions for the construction industry, has announced the release of its latest track-and-trace software. The new platform, known as Jovix 3.0, features upgrades including configurable workflows, user and role management, and no-limit mapping (utilizing satellite imagery to remove the restrictions of yards).

Jovix 3.0 focuses on supporting users and providing flexible features for each project. The platform will offer multi-language options at the user level. It is designed to accommodate tasks on the move and to allow for configurability. For example, “Installation Work Package” could be renamed to a “Work Order” to match a project’s nomenclature.

Future releases are expected to incorporate drone images, CAD, EarthCam and other features. In addition, materials will be heat-mapped and clustered, expanding as a user zooms in. Automation features—including auto identifiers and automation rules—are intended to boost productivity, the company reports, by removing manual steps such as updating a material status based on a change in location (for example, if someone enters a quarantine zone).

“We have collaborated with our customers, some of the largest owners and EPCs in the world, and we are proud to bring them a product that will make their jobs even easier,” said Robert Fuqua, Atlas RFID Solutions’ CEO, in a prepared statement. “The market was once reluctant to digital change, and we are seeing a wholehearted embrace of technologies, including Jovix, which are crucial to building the future for the industry.”

JADAK Releases Handheld Barcode Scanner With RFID Functionality

JADAK, a business unit of Novanta, has announced the release of its HS-1RL Secure Access Handheld Barcode Scanner. The device integrates 1D and 2D barcode scanning with RFID proximity card reading functionality, with an ergonomic and compact design. This allows clinicians to use their proximity ID badges for secure user authentication and access to medical devices, while also capturing barcode data, such as patient wristbands or medication information, with a single device.

The HS-1RL device is intended to help healthcare facilities adhere to recent guidelines from the FDA and the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force requiring strong authentication by protecting patient information. The system is designed to ensure that only authorized users can access medical devices, and to maintain electronic records of staff members who have accessed the device, interacted with patients or administered medications.

Additional benefits for healthcare facilities include simplified workflows, time efficiencies and infection control, since clinicians can quickly scan their ID badges to log into devices, medicine cabinets and ID patients instead of using a password or other method that can spread infection and add time to the clinician workflow. Since the scanner was designed for healthcare applications, the plastics are durable against sterilization and disinfectants typically used in hospital settings.

“We’re proud to be the first to solve this challenge for our customers,” said Annika Matas, JADAK’s senior product manager for RFID, in a prepared statement. “There are so many badge technologies it’s difficult for our customers to accommodate all of them, but this product provides a compatible solution for any LF RFID badge type plus it reduces clutter and the number of USB ports needed on the host device.”

Lifecycle management of the device is covered by JADAK—if changes occur, the firm assures, backward compatibility is guaranteed. An IP54 rating ensures internal components are protected during disinfection.

Silicon Labs, Notion Partner on IoT Smart-Home Sensor

Silicon Labs has partnered with Notion, a home-monitoring solution provider, to create a battery-powered Internet of Things (IoT) smart-home sensor that can detect water leaks, smoke, carbon monoxide, temperature changes and motion across doors, garages and windows. The Notion Sensor is built on Silicon Labs’ Wireless Gecko platform, providing a wireless system-on-chip (SoC) solution with flexible multiprotocol connectivity.

Notion introduced its smart-home monitoring solution in 2017. Since then, several insurance companies have partnered with Notion to encourage homeowners to take a proactive approach to home maintenance and monitoring by offering the Notion starter kit. Designed with multi-functional sensors, the Notion kit allows homeowners to detect multiple incidents in different locations throughout their home. By installing the Notion system, homeowners can receive a smart-home discount on their insurance policy with participating companies, thereby reducing their premiums.

“Notion has created a valuable smart home solution for both homeowners and insurance companies, demonstrating the transformative power IoT can have across vertical markets,” said Matt Saunders, Silicon Labs’ VP of marketing and applications for IoT products, in a prepared statement. “Notion is a great example of how the Wireless Gecko platform eases design complexity for our customers, offering the benefits of low power consumption, robust connectivity, and best-in-class wireless range and performance in a single-chip solution.”

Powered by two AAA batteries, the Notion sensor can be placed anywhere within a house with a peel-and-stick application. The sensor connects to a Wi-Fi network through a bridge, and all monitored zones within a home can be viewed via a smartphone app.

“Smart-home devices are driving a new wave of change in the insurance industry, with Notion’s all-in-one sensor leading the charge as we help consumers easily monitor their households and insurance companies anticipate problems before they arise,” said Brett Jurgens, Notion’s CEO, in the prepared statement. “Silicon Labs’ wireless technology enables our product developers to focus more of their time on design simplicity and ease of use for Notion customers.”

BehrTech Intros Wireless IIoT Connectivity Brand and Product Family

BehrTech, a provider of wireless connectivity software for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), has announced MYTHINGS, a wireless IIoT connectivity brand and product family intended to simplify and accelerate the deployment of low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs). The MYTHINGS software platform includes MIOTY, an LPWAN software that complies with ETSI’s TS 103-357 standard.

MYTHINGS was created to facilitate full-scale LPWAN deployments in demanding industrial and commercial environments. Because it’s based on the MIOTY protocol, LPWAN networks can be implemented for long-range communication. It features a long battery life and high interference immunity, the company reports.

This year, BehrTech plans to release a lineup of products under the MYTHINGS brand. The first is the MYTHINGS Module, a pre-configured rapid prototyping module running the MYTHINGS Library, a source code for IoT end nodes featuring MIOTY software. The MYTHINGS Module is intended to enable systems integrators, VARs, technology vendors and other companies in a variety of industries to build their own sensor prototypes for IIoT networks.

“Our goal with the MYTHINGS platform is to deliver a highly integrable and interoperable suite of software-driven IIoT connectivity products, something that does not exist on the market today,” said Wolfgang Thieme, BehrTech’s chief product officer, in a prepared statement.

The MYTHINGS Module complies with the mikroBUS add-on board open standard design. By specifying the physical layout of microcontrollers or microprocessors (mainboards) and compatible integrated circuits and modules (add-on boards), the mikroBUS standard enables flexible hardware design and development with a growing ecosystem of standardized development and add-on boards. Businesses can mix and match the MYTHINGS Module with various sensors, interfaces, displays and amplifiers to build a customized end-node for a variety of use cases and deployments.

LoRa Alliance Expands LoRaWAN Certification Program for IoT Devices

The LoRa Alliance, a global association of companies backing the open LoRaWAN protocol for Internet of Things (IoT)-based low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs), has announced that it has expanded its LoRaWAN certification program. The enhanced certification testing suite meets the requirements of LoRaWAN network operators, the organization reports, and assures end users that certified devices have the required quality and range to work on any network out of the box.

“LoRaWAN is the de facto LPWAN industry standard,” said Donna Moore, the LoRa Alliance’s CEO and chairwoman, in a prepared statement. “A key role of the LoRa Alliance is to ensure that all LoRaWAN devices pass a comprehensive and rigorous test suite, and deliver the quality and performance expected by installers and end users alike. With millions of LoRaWAN devices in the field and deployment rapidly scaling, the LoRaWAN Certified (CM) mark provides confidence to the market that devices will perform as intended.”

The certification program offers benefits to device manufacturers, network operators and end customers, the LoRa Alliance indicates. Device manufacturers will be able to save time and money by undergoing a single certification process that covers conformance, interoperability and RF testing; network operators will not need to perform additional network testing on LoRaWAN-certified devices; and end users will have assurance that a device will deliver the expected performance.

“European LoRaWAN network operators recently mandated that only LoRaWAN Certified devices can be used on their networks, underscoring the robustness of our device testing and certification program,” Moore added in the prepared statement. “Further, this mandate is a key indicator of the maturity of the LoRaWAN protocol and market desire for devices that carry the LoRaWAN Certified (CM) mark of quality and brand promise.”

To accelerate the certification process, the LoRa Alliance has also introduced the LoRaWAN Certification Test Tool (LCTT), a precertification testing tool designed for use at a device manufacturer’s own facility, enabling a company to pretest and prove a device design before shipping it for formal certification testing. This benefits members by allowing full testing and regression testing of their device at their own location. Full global availability of LCTT is anticipated in the coming months for LoRa Alliance members.

ABI Research Report Says IoT Tech Taking Root in Agriculture

By 2024, more than two million farms and 36 million cattle will be connected, according to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance regarding transforming technologies. The firm’s new application analysis report, titled “Agriculture’s Digital Transformation—AgTech and Farming,” discusses the opportunity for the Internet of Things (IoT) within the agricultural market, specifically in terms of connected agriculture in field crops, tree crops and livestock.

For field and tree crops, ABI reports, the primary driver for the introduction of connectivity and the IoT is not only to irrigate sufficiently, but also to limit excess water application for usage efficiency and to align with government regulation. For livestock, it is about collecting data related to animals’ health, including birthing activities, as well as their whereabouts. Across all agriculture sectors, the firm adds, the benefits are improved yields, a higher-quality product and greater insight for farmers to more efficiently manage operations.

“Hi-tech systems involving drones are sometimes referenced when discussing the future of farming, but a drone’s primary function is to provide high-level aerial imagery, including strategic analysis of large areas to provide analytics on indices like chlorophyll content,” said Harriet Sumnall, a research analyst at ABI Research, in a prepared statement. “While this is useful, it is time-consuming and can lack granular information. Ground-based sensor-based systems are more insightful and cost-effective for focusing solely on monitoring soil under the crops and animal behavior. This is exactly the information farmers need to map out their plan of action to secure the optimum yield.”

The technologies that will power IoT in connected agriculture, ABI predicts, will heavily rely on gateways and low-power wide-area products. LoRa is increasingly finding preference in supplier solutions, particularly for sensor-to-node connections. The cost of connected agriculture systems depends upon the number of sensors deployed, with vendors’ pricing strategies ranging from a single upfront fee and an inclusive subscription to a data-management platform (as with Sensoterra) to no upfront cost but a data subscription-only model (as with CropX). The former may be preferable for large farms, ABI notes, while the latter might be better for smaller ones.

“The reasons for adopting IoT in agriculture are universal—cost reduction, improved productivity and better profit margins—but the specific prompts, in terms of readiness to adopt, can be more pragmatic and localized,” Sumnall added in the prepared statement. “For example, in North America, the political climate is proving challenging for the immigrant workforce required by the agricultural sector, and more automation could make up for this lack of manual labor. And in Europe, farmers are notably younger than elsewhere in the world and are more naturally receptive to adopting new technology. In general, however, there is a lack of education among farmers about the benefits of connected agriculture. This is a vital issue that vendors must continue to be active in remedying if agricultural IoT is to succeed.”