RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

FEIG Electronic releases new firmware to support NXP products ••• RFID4U intros new asset-tracking module ••• European Molecular Biology Lab uses HID Global RFID system to track cryogenic research equipment ••• Sonitor Technologies spins out Forkbeard as subsidiary, establishes new corporate structure ••• Darwin selects Telensa for smart street-lighting project ••• ProGlove unveils ergonomic IoT BLE wearable ••• AIM North America honors Professional of the Year.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:

FEIG Electronic, NXP Semiconductors
RFID4U;
the European Molecular Biology Lab, HID Global;
Sonitor Technologies, Forkbeard;
Telensa;
ProGlove; and
AIM North America.

FEIG Electronic Releases New Firmware to Support NXP Products

FEIG Electronic, a global supplier of RFID readers and antennas, has announced the release of firmware version V.01.05.00 for its CPR74 NFC reader module. The new firmware supports the high-level, cryptographic encryption functions of NXP Semiconductors‘ MIFARE DESFire EV2 and NTAG 424 DNA product protocols.

Version V01.05.00 is directly supported in the CPR74, which includes MIFARE DESFire EV2, MIFARE DESFire Light and NTAG 424 DNA authentication chips, as well as contactless ICs designed for solution developers and system operators building contactless solutions. The CPR74 is a small, board-level OEM reader module measuring 50 millimeters by 68 millimeters, designed for embedded integration into terminals, kiosks, vending machines, turnstiles and other devices that target smart-card solutions in identity, access, loyalty and micro-payment applications.

The module outputs 450 milliwatts of RF energy, providing greater read distances compared to a typical low-power NFC reader, according to the company. MIFARE DESFire EV2 offers an improved operating distance, the firm reports. Because the MIFARE DESFire chip becomes energized at a greater distance from the reader, command execution times begin milliseconds faster, thereby improving transaction speed. FEIG’s API Command Queue helps to improve transaction times, allowing multiple APDU commands to be issued to the reader in a single command packet. The module executes the series and returns a status of the execution. This technique eliminates the latency associated with issuing a single APDU.

“We have feedback from our customers who tested the CPR74 and found that the transaction speed was twice as fast reading MiFARE DESFire cards and three times faster reading other MIFARE transponders, in comparison to a competitive card reader,” said Klaus Schoeke, FEIG’s VP of technical sales, in a prepared statement.

All cryptographic functions established in the secure messaging scheme of the MIFARE DESFire EV2 and NTAG 424 DNA are performed by the CPR74 firmware, making application development for the card reader faster and more straightforward, since a developer is not required to have an understanding of the lowest-level functions of the protocol’s challenges, authentication and encryption. The CPR74 has an integrated onboard antenna, as well as an external remote antenna port that is multiplexed with the onboard antenna. The antenna functionality is configurable and may be used as addressable individual read points.

The CPR74 reader supports the complete range of MIFARE ICs, as well as the new NTAG 424 DNA line. The NTAG 424 DNA is an attack-resistant, certified chip platform that provides AES-128 cryptographic operation for security and privacy in NFC smart-product applications, to fight against counterfeiting and grey-market activities. The NTAG 424 DNA TagTamper variant is used to detect product tampering. The CPR74 supports the recently introduced MIFARE DESFire Light, a lightweight version of the MIFARE DESFire family designed to simplify the introduction of single application contactless services.

The MIFARE DESFire EV2 IC allows for secure data transmission and flexible memory organization, the company reports, and is interoperable with existing contactless infrastructures. “Future MIFARE IC releases will incorporate the advanced encryption standard,” said Martin Liebl, NXP’s senior director of product management for smart mobility and retail, in the prepared statement. “FEIG customers’ are able to ‘future proof’ their RFID enabled products and extend their product life cycle through FEIG’s firmware releases that extend support to the latest silicon releases brought to market by NXP.”

Companies that use the CPR74 as their card reader platform can update existing deployments of the FEIG module to the latest silicon releases. The firmware is available for download at no charge to FEIG’s customers.

RFID4U Intros New Asset-Tracking Module

RFID4U, a global RFID solutions provider, has announced that it has released a new module as part of its TagMatiks platform, known as TagMatiks Asset Tracking (AT) Lite. The application is a lightweight version of the enterprise asset-tracking module, the company reports, designed to jump-start an RFID-based asset-tracking initiative.

The solution is available as a standalone Microsoft Windows-based application for ease of installation and setup. The software provides the ability to connect to a handheld RFID scanner for data collection. Users can leverage the accompanying RFID handhelds to conduct checkouts and check-ins of assets, as well as annotate due dates to pull reporting of overdue items. The RFID handheld can be used to perform a quick guided cycle count to determine variances. The system reports back expected, matched, missing and misplaced assets. Pre-printed, pre-encoded TagMatiks labels and on-metal tags can be paired to assets.

“When you’re starting off with an RFID-based asset-tracking software, it’s a lot easier to start out simple and prove out your use case,” said Archit Dua, RFID4U’s director of strategic development, in a prepared statement. “TagMatiks AT Lite provides the ability to quickly install the entire system onto most Windows laptops, computers and tablets. With this, you cut out a lot of the friction required to get your project rolling so you can focus on the benefits RFID brings to the table.”

TagMatiks AT Lite has a one-click migration to the full-fledged version of TagMatiks AT, so users need not worry about data migration or efforts already invested in tagging assets. All data, images and reports are ready to use in the full enterprise version, the company reports. “Another key benefit of TagMatiks AT Lite is the extensive RFID device support offered,” Archit said in the prepared statement. “Users have the ability to choose from the best of RFID handhelds available in the market place.”

European Molecular Biology Lab Uses HID Global RFID System to Track Cryogenic Research Equipment

HID Global, a provider of trusted-identity solutions, has announced that the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), in Grenoble, France, has selected HID’s RFID tags and patented direct-bonding technology for the automated handling of biological samples at cryogenic temperatures of +196 degrees Celsius (-321 degrees Fahrenheit) in liquid nitrogen.

EMBL creates high-resolution pictures and 3D atomic models of biological macromolecules, using a specialized imaging process called macromolecular crystallography (MX). These images are useful for studying biological materials, developing efficient medicine and fighting cancer more effectively, the company reports. The images require molecular samples to be prepared in a crystalized form and then frozen. Handling these samples is a complex task, as tiny crystals must be grown, harvested, frozen on a sample holder at the tip of a tiny needle, and stored in liquid nitrogen at cryogenic temperatures, and must be identified for further processing while remaining cool.

Most current sample holders used in MX imaging offer limited storage density and poor initial crystal-positioning, which affects processing and limits the benefits of automated crystal harvesting systems, according to HID. As a result, EMBL set out to design a storage and identification solution robust enough to function at extreme cold temperatures, but small enough to facilitate high precision and storage density. It also needed to support high-speed, automated handling by robots.

“The HID Global technology has proven to be reliable against temperature cycling between room and liquid nitrogen temperatures, and the HID team was very supportive in helping us with our new designs,” said Florent Cipriani, the head of EMBL’s instrumentation team, in a prepared statement.

Embeddable RFID tags and direct bonding technology from HID were chosen for identification in EMBL’s new sample holders due to the tags’ tiny footprint, track record of working in cryogenic environments and ability to be custom-designed to meet the needs of EMBL. HID’s direct bonding allows the secure attachment of antennas to chips without the bulk of added modules.

“HID Global’s proven RFID technology has been used in various cryogenic environments for years,” said Richard Aufreiter, HID’s director of product management for identification technology, in the prepared statement. “It was a natural partnership between HID and EMBL to design a tracking system resistant to frosting and other aspects of extreme cold. Our team worked directly with EMBL engineers to ensure the best tracking system was deployed in their newly designed sample storage solution.”

With HID’s technology, EMBL developed two new sample holders for high throughput, precision and reliable sample tracking of more than 200,000 crystals per year. The RFID-enabled sample holders increase throughput by allowing crystal harvesting, cryogenic storage and MX beamline feeding processes to be fully automated using robot grippers and specifically designed RFID readers. Available memory space in the RFID tags can store additional information about the samples.

Sonitor Technologies Spins Out Forkbeard as Subsidiary, Establishes New Corporate Structure

Sonitor Technologies‘ Board of Directors has announced that it is establishing Sonitor IPS Holding AS (Indoor Positioning Systems) and creating two subsidiaries; Sonitor Technologies AS and Forkbeard Technologies AS. Forkbeard will focus on developing platform technologies for cloud-based indoor positioning of mobile devices. Sonitor Technologies will continue to focus on the commercialization and expansion of the Sonitor Sense platform, and will partner in the commercialization of Forkbeard’s technology platform in health care and other markets.

“After careful consideration, the Board of Directors has determined that separating Sonitor into two independent entities will accelerate the growth and development of each and lead to greater shareholder value,” said Carl Christian Gilhuus-Moe, Sonitor Technologies’ executive chairman, in a prepared statement. “The current Sonitor Board of Directors will continue as the board of directors for Sonitor IPS Holding and the new Sonitor Technologies subsidiary. Forkbeard Technologies will establish a new board under the leadership of Knut Sandven as Chairman. Wilfred Booij, PhD, currently CTO of Sonitor will assume the role as CEO of the new Forkbeard subsidiary.”

“Sonitor pioneered indoor positioning technology and has led the industry since we executed our first hospital deployment with our patented ultrasound technology more than a decade ago,” Booij said in the prepared statement. “We believe that creating Forkbeard as a new business entity will allow us to take the technology rapidly mainstream.”

“Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to continuing to lead the indoor positioning technology market,” added Arne Øyen, Sonitor Technologies’ group CEO, in the prepared statement. “Forkbeard offers further exciting business and investment opportunities in the large and expanding global indoor positioning market for our partners and our shareholders alike.”

Darwin Selects Telensa for Smart Street-Lighting Project

Telensa, a provider of connected street lighting and smart-city data applications, has announced that it has been selected by the City of Darwin to deploy its PLANet intelligent street-lighting system. In one of the largest council-run projects of its type in Australia, Darwin will replace almost 10,000 lights on its street and public lighting network with LEDs wirelessly connected by Telensa. These lights will be controlled by the Telensa Central Management System (CMS) and will be hosted in Australia by Amazon Web Services.

This project follows a Northern Territory Government initiative to transfer the control of street lights to councils, with some now contracting for LED and smart-controls upgrades. By selecting a system capable of scaling worldwide, the firm explains, the City of Darwin was able to move directly to full deployment, eliminating the need to run a pilot system.

PLANet is an intelligent street-lighting system consisting of wireless nodes connecting individual lights, as well as a dedicated wireless network owned by the city and a central management application. The system has reduced energy and maintenance costs, improved quality of service through automatic fault reporting and turned streetlight poles into hubs for smart-city sensors, Telensa reports. More than 1.7 million PLANet lights have been connected to date.

“Key infrastructure projects such as street & public lighting demand the highest standards to ensure reliability and value for money, and Telensa’s proposition more than satisfies both of those criteria,” said Scott Waters, the City of Darwin’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “With Telensa’s PLANet system, Darwin will be able to reduce costs whilst improving our street & public lighting service. This project is another example of City of Darwin’s leadership, delivering a safer, smarter, and more efficient environment for our community.”

“We are excited to be working with City of Darwin to deliver a modern, efficient and resilient street & public lighting system that will effectively respond to the community’s needs for decades to come,” said Will Gibson, Telensa’s founder and chief commercial officer, in the prepared statement. “Telensa’s flexibility and scalability means that we are able to begin deployment straight away, and we’re looking forward to working with the City of Darwin on low-cost smart city applications which can be enabled by the city’s new lighting network.”

ProGlove Unveils Ergonomic IoT BLE Wearable

Smart, wearable device sales are projected to double worldwide by 2022, according to industry analyst CCS Insight. ProGlove, a German startup, is expanding its presence in North America. The manufacturer of smart, wearable technology provides hands-free scanning solutions across a number of industries.

The MARK 2 can connect to a corporate network via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or 868 MHz radio frequency. It enables users to scan from up to 5 feet away from a device and includes a battery that holds up to a 15-hour charge. In combination with tablets, smartphones and other portable devices, employees can work without a station. Instant worker feedback from the MARK 2 provides information to employees, reporting errors or pointing out prioritized shipments.

Bar-code scanning plays an important role in many industrial environments, the company reports. Workers use scanning technology to confirm work orders or document process steps, but traditional mobile scanners bring unnecessary weight, must be picked up, and are often lost or quickly damaged. This delays work processes, leads to errors and affects quality, the firm explains. ProGlove’s smart wearables are designed to address these problems and ensure greater efficiency, ergonomics, quality and process reliability.

“Our product connects the worker to the IIoT and is enabling industrial workers and management teams around the world to close the digital chain,” said Andreas König, ProGlove’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “We have just started to scratch the surface on the capabilities of this technology and the companies it can positively impact. Above all, we’re putting humans at the center of our technology and strengthening their role in an era of increased automation.”

“ProGlove is an American story made in Germany,” said Charlie Grieco, the firm’s VP of sales, in the prepared statement. “It began with the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge, and I think we can add many American chapters to that plot because ProGlove’s technology is all about hyper-efficiency, unparalleled quality, and the connected human worker. These will be the precise ingredients North American businesses need to gain and maintain a competitive edge in the Industry 4.0 era.”

AIM North America Honors Professional of the Year

AIM North America (AIM NA), representing AIM in the United States, Canada and Mexico, has announced that it has named Debangana Mukherjee as the recipient of its 2019 Professional of the Year Award. AIM NA, a trusted-industry association for the automatic-identification industry, provides businesses with information, educational resources and standards.

AIM NA’s 2019 award winners are being announced at several industry events this year. The first presentation was held this week during AIM’s annual partnership breakfast at the RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, which took place in Phoenix, Ariz. In the coming weeks, AIM NA plans to reveal the remaining honorees.

The Professional of the Year Award recognizes innovative and exceptional contributions to the development of the auto-ID industry through work as a contributor, collaborator or mentor. Mukherjee, the director of business development and sales at CISC Semiconductor, is an active participant in a variety of AIM NA’s committees. She currently serves as the vice-chair of AIM North America’s board of directors.