RFID News Roundup

By Beth Bacheldor

NXP, Alioth partner on SmartMX2 smart cards; Adlink announces new RFID-enabled industrial mobile handheld computer; Arjowiggins Creative Papers showcases new paper substrate for printed RFID and other electronic components; Laird Technologies launches low-energy Bluetooth smart modules for medical and other devices; Bayer HealthCare awards employee evacuation project to Radiant RFID; Excelsior Metal Products unveils RFID-enabled Refrigerated Electronic Locker System.

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

NXP, Alioth Partner on SmartMX2 Smart Cards
NXP Semiconductors and Alioth, a Russian provider of government and payment cards solutions, have jointly announced the launch of a contactless smart-card solution product known as SCOne. Alioth will be the first card manufacturer worldwide to offer SmartMX2 cards using a Mifare Plus emulation for transport and a MasterCard-certified MChip PayPass payment application, according to the two companies, while supporting GOST cryptographic algorithms mandated by the Russian government. Cardholders will be able use a single smart card for everyday use—from the morning train commute to daily shopping. SCOne combines banking, transport ticketing and government applications on a single secure microcontroller, NXP's SmartMX2. Announced in December 2010 (see RFID News Roundup: NXP Launches SmartMX2 Family of Secure Microcontrollers), the SmartMX2 family of secure 13.56 MHz passive RFID chips is designed to provide greater levels of security for multiple applications, such as mobile transactions, public transport, access management, device authentication and banking, provided by a single smart card. The microcontrollers are built on the IntegralSecurity architecture, which NXP says is designed to protect the integrity and confidentiality of user data and applications, in order to achieve Common Criteria (CC) EAL 6+ security certifications. IntegralSecurity is built with more than 100 dedicated security mechanisms, including a hardened Fame2 crypto coprocessor serving a range of crypto algorithms with a flexible RSA key length of up to 4,096 bits. In addition, the company reports, the SmartMX2 includes the NXP-patented SecureFetch feature, which protects against light and laser attacks, and now covers data other than software code, as well as the NXP-patented GlueLogic feature for advanced protection against reverse-engineering attacks. The SmartMX2 also features a reengineered memory management unit (MMU) with advanced firewalling capabilities. The chip is optimized for the ISO 14443-A RFID interface, including support for small antenna dimensions, and supports Mifare DESFire, Mifare Plus and Mifare Classic for applications convergence. As a further security enhancement, NXP will be the first company to incorporate Intrinsic-ID's physical unclonable function (PUF) anti-cloning technology into the SmartMX2 family (see RFID News Roundup: NXP Strengthens SmartMX2 Security Chips With PUF Anti-cloning Technology). "As the clear market leader in security chips, NXP was the obvious partner for this ground-breaking project," said Igor Vasiliev, Alioth's general director, in a prepared statement. "While we are excited to have created a truly converged multi-application product under the SCOne brand, it is vital that both consumers and service providers are able to have complete trust in the security of card transactions. The high levels of hardware security that SmartMX2 delivers not only helps to create this trust—including support for government-endorsed GOST cryptography—but also means that we were able to quickly implement software countermeasures and bring this product to market in just four months, from first samples evaluation to MasterCard approval process." The availability of this new SmartMX2-based card follows the recent announcement that the Moscow Department of Transport has selected MIFARE Plus for the new Troika smart card project (see RFID News Roundup: Moscow Selects NXP's Mifare Plus IC for Urban Transportation Ticketing System). That secure new multi-modal card aims to improve the quality of the travel experience and make public transport more attractive, by enabling passengers to use one card for ticketing across multiple transport types, including metro, urban railway, tram and bus services. Additionally, the city of St. Petersburg is utilizing Mifare Plus technology for its public transport system. The new secure multi-application card from Alioth and NXP, with the MasterCard M/Chip PayPass application, is now ready for mass production, the company reports. Cards with a Visa PayWave application are expected to be made available later this year.

Adlink Announces New RFID-enabled Industrial Mobile Handheld Computer

Adlink Technology a manufacturer of industrial computing products headquartered in Taiwan, with offices worldwide, has announced the IMX-9000, an industrial mobile handheld computer using the Windows CE 6.0 R3 operating system. The handheld combines 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) RFID data capture supporting the ISO 15693 and 14443A standards, a bar-code scanner and GPRS/WLAN wireless transmission functions. The device is designed for a variety of industries, including fully supported logistics management, transportation, retail and factory automation. The IMX-9000 has integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM, fast-positioning GPS and A-GPS technology, and is IP-65-rated (meaning that testing has confirmed it to be dustproof and waterproof, the company explains, and that it has passed 1.5-meter drop tests to ensure continuous reliable operation within harsh working environments. The handheld features a 3.5-inch four-wire resistive touch panel, so it is readable in sunlight for outdoor use, and is equipped with a 5megapixel back camera and 0.3 megapixel front camera for real-time video communication and surveillance. An embedded 3000-mAh rechargeable lithium battery ensures long-term operation; a charging cradle is also provided for added convenience, the company adds. The IMX-9000 measures 162 millimeters by 80 millimeters by 30.5 millimeters (6.3 inches by 3.1 inches by 1.2 inches) and weighs less than 380 grams (13.4 ounces), with the standard battery included.

Arjowiggins Creative Papers Showcases New Paper Substrate Ideal for RFID Antennas

Paper and printed electronics manufacturer Arjowiggins Creative Papers has announced that it is showcasing its new PowerCoat cellulosic paper substrate that enables passive and interactive circuitry to be integrated with existing printed products. The company reports that the new paper—first announced in December 2012, and made with a unique formulation and coating process—facilitates the integration of a range of electronic functions into graphics, from embedded RFID tags to condition-sensitive sell-by dates on fresh produce. According to Arjowiggins Creative Papers, PowerCoat is suitable for resistors, capacitors, self-inductance and other passive components, as well as for more efficient creation of RFID antennas with which less ink can be used. The firm is exhibiting the paper this week in Berlin, at Printed Electronics Europe 2013, a conference and tradeshow hosted by IDTechEx. The demonstration is being carried out with partner Ceradrop, a French manufacturer of inkjet printers for printed electronics, and will include live printing demonstrations using PowerCoat. According to Arjowiggins Creative Papers, PowerCoat is a sustainable substrate with polymer-like smoothness—as low as 10 nanometers—that offers excellent printability and ink-adhesion properties without any plastic content. It features a fine, smooth surface, designed to reduce the consumption of expensive silver inks and allow high-resolution fine patterning (down to 5µm) of any solution-based electronic layer. The substrate's natural roll-to-roll capability, the company reports, makes it possible to produce large-area products, such as sensor walls and flexible displays. During formation, Arjowiggins Creative Papers explains, the existing pressroom environments and processes create thermal stability of the paper, thereby allowing for precision control during sintering (the process that fuses conductive inks to the substrata). PowerCoat's structure can withstand the high temperatures required for low-resistance silver ink, without the discoloration experienced by other substrates currently on the market. It is 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable, and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), meaning the materials were sourced in an environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable manner.

Laird Technologies Launches Low-Energy Bluetooth Smart Modules for Medical and Other Devices
Laird Technologies, which manufactures RFID reader antennas and provides components and solutions that protect electronic devices from electromagnetic interference and heat, has announced its Bluetooth Smart family of modules, each the size of a dime, designed for use with a broad range of devices, including in-home medical devices, battery-powered sensors, data-collection devices, and health and fitness equipment and applications. Every BL600 Series module will greatly simplify the process of adding single-mode Bluetooth Smart to any small, portable, power-conscious device, according to Laird Technologies, which reports that medical devices that send small amounts of data wirelessly will be able to run for months or even years on a coin cell battery when they use the new Bluetooth Smart modules. The new BL600 modules come bundled with smartBASIC, an event-driven programming language that simplifies BLE module integration. Even those with little software or Bluetooth expertise can develop fully functional applications in just days, the company reports. A simple smartBASIC application encapsulates the complete end-to-end process of reading, writing and processing sensor data, and then using BLE to transfer it to any Bluetooth v4.0 device—smartphone, tablet, gateway or computer. There is already a BL600 App available at the iTunes/Apple Store. The BL600 app contains some of the applications that can be made for Bluetooth Smart devices built around the BL600 module series. This app includes a heart-rate monitor, a proximity sensor and a temperature sensor, and is fully compatible with other Bluetooth Smart Ready devices that utilize these profiles. BL600 applications, along with a complete BLE stack, reside on the module itself, and do not require an external microcontroller or memory. Based on the Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 system-on-a-chip (SoC), BL600 modules provide low power consumption with a long wireless range, according to Laird Technologies. The modules support a variety of ultra-low power-saving modes to achieve as little as 1000 nanoamperes (1000 nA, or 1uA) of power consumption in deep sleep mode, and 10.5 mA when transmitting data at 0 dBm. A coin-cell battery supplies sufficient power for the module for months or years of data transmissions to a smartphone or other gateway, the company indicates. A low-cost developer's kit, including simple software tools, is now available, as are mass-production BL600 modules and development kits.

Bayer HealthCare Awards Employee Evacuation Project to Radiant RFID
Bayer HealthCare has announced that it has selected Radiant RFID's Mustering Solution to enhance safety and security for more than 2,500 employees, visitors and contractors at its Hanover, N.J. facility. The mustering solution, according to Radiant RFID, leverages ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 RFID technology, as well as Radiant software, to deliver accurate, real-time reporting of employees' and guests' locations during an evacuation, without requiring badge swipes or manual checklists. In the event of an emergency, evacuation managers can more quickly discover who is missing from assembly areas and deliver real-time, "last-seen" personnel data to first responders. The Employee Mustering Solution is built on the company's flagship All Hazard Response Network, an RFID-based disaster-management system that, according to Radiant RFID, has successfully aided the statewide evacuation and reunification of more than 45,000 evacuees with their loved ones since 2005. For the Bayer Healthcare project, Radiant will enable Bayer's existing proximity-based access system with RFID via new UHF-HF integrated identification badges, a proprietary iOS mobile mustering application, fixed Motorola RFID readers at key ingress and egress points, and Motorola handheld readers for mobile mustering. Data culled from the RFID systems is combined with out-of-office status, in order to determine who is missing in the event of an evacuation or emergency. The project is taking place in conjunction with Bayer's facilities upgrade.

Excelsior Metal Products Unveils RFID-enabled Refrigerated Electronic Locker System
Excelsior Metal Products, an electronic locker manufacturer based in Manalapan, N.J., has announced a new Refrigerated Electronic Locker System that offers a choice of access methods, including radio frequency identification. According to Howie Blum, Excelsior Metal Products' VP, the Refrigerated Locker System is suitable for applications in health care and pharmaceuticals, for which medicines and other items require cold storage and safe, secure storage environments. Each locker system is custom-built, Blum says, and can support the type of RFID card and access technology required by a particular customer. The Refrigerated Electronic Locker system is similar to the company's other electronic locker systems (which also support a variety of access methods, including RFID), but include refrigeration units and seals on each door to maintain the temperature within. The firm's electronic locker systems come in a variety of sizes and styles. Are all welded and feature 16-gauge reinforced doors, 18-gauge body parts, rust treatment prior to painting, a baked powder coat finish, a back-up battery and alarm that sounds after six hours on backup, an automatic lock that activates in the event that the locker is tampered with, mechanical and electronic management overrides, thermal detectors, LCD screens, Internet and network access, and a management system to maintain the lockers.