RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

STMicroelectronics unveils IIoT connectivity ecosystem, new MCUs for smart devices; SATO America releases mobile thermal printer; Brytemap intros handheld RFID compliance tool for cannabis companies; Portable Technology Solutions' software supports Alien Technology's RFID reader; Layer3, LORIOT partner on IoT solutions for Nigeria; Senet, Digital Matter team up on LoRaWAN IoT asset-tracking solutions; Litmus Automation, Parker Hannifin sign IoT software licensing agreement.

Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
SATO America;
Portable Technology Solutions, Alien Technology;
Layer3, LORIOT;
Senet, Digital Matter;
Litmus Automation, and Parker Hannifin.

STMicroelectronics Unveils IIoT Connectivity Ecosystem, New MCUs for Smart Devices

Semiconductor firm STMicroelectronics, in collaboration with partners Arkessa, Armv and Truphone, has created an ecosystem for securely connecting Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and automotive systems to cellular networks. The solution provides access to networks and services worldwide, the company reports, and is designed to facilitate connectivity for such IIoT use cases as remote condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, as well as connected-driving services such as infotainment, vehicle diagnostics and emergency assistance.

ST provides industrial and automotive-qualified embedded SIMs (eSIMs) that work with industry-standard GSMA or proprietary bootstrap profiles. Arkessa, Arm and Truphone provide and operate device-onboarding and service-provisioning platforms. The provisioning services enable IoT devices containing the eSIMs to connect automatically to cellular networks, the company reports. Partners and operators can access hundreds of cellular networks worldwide, including 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE CAT-M (low-power wide-area connectivity) and NB-IoT.

"Our M2M connectivity solution comprises high-quality, secure, and convenient hardware with connectivity and subscription management provided by accomplished, world-class operators," said Laurent Degauque, the marketing director of ST's Secure Microcontroller Division, in a prepared statement. "Its flexibility, global reach, and proven security at every level from eSIM to service provider let our customers deploy innovative connected services quickly and efficiently wherever they are needed."

In a separate announcement, STMicroelectronics has announced its STM32H7A3, STM32H7B3 and STM32H7B0 Value Line microcontrollers (MCUs), which include a 280MHz Arm Cortex-M7 processor and high memory density for smart objects. The MCUs are intended to boost integration and real-time performance in order to handle rich user interfaces, natural language interaction, RF mesh networking and artificial intelligence, the company reports.

Support for embedded graphics includes up to 1.4 megabytes of RAM, enabling the support of user interfaces on display resolutions of up to HVGA. The MCUs' CPU performance and Flash density are intended to handle evolving RF-communication protocols. A 4.57-millimeter by 4.37-millimeter wafer-level chip-scale package option eases integration in wireless modules.

The STM32H7 MCUs provide the power efficiency required for machine-learning applications, the company reports, and to support future generations of neural networks. For security-conscious IoT applications, cyber-protection includes secure boot, root-of-trust, and hardware cryptographic and hash accelerators. On-the-fly decryption extends protection to code stored in external serial memories by allowing encrypted content to be decrypted in real time.

The MCUs come with embedded secure-loading services that allow users to order products and offer encrypted firmware to programming partners without exposing secrets at any stage. Once a product is authenticated and securely programmed, the root-of-trust mechanism supports all secure firmware services, including field updates. The STM32H7 features digital-communication interfaces and up to two octal SPI external memory interfaces. There is an RGB interface for up to XGA displays, as well as ST's Chrom-ART Accelerator that offloads the CPU from 2D graphics operations, Chrom-GRC that optimizes support for non-rectangular displays, and hardware JPEG codecs.

The STM32 development ecosystem includes the STM32H7B3I-EVAL dedicated Evaluation board, the STM32H7B3I-DK Discovery Kit and the NUCLEO-H7A3ZI-Q Nucleo-144 board. The STM32CubeH7 software package includes several application and demonstration examples with source code available, including graphical solutions based on TouchGFX technologies. Users can use toolkits for motor control, AI application development and the STM32Trust cyber-security ecosystem. Samples of the devices are available now. Full production for most derivatives began in January 2020 and the full portfolio is expected to be available by June 2020.

SATO America Releases Mobile Thermal Printer

SATO America, a provider of automatic-identification solutions, has announced an addition to its mobile thermal printer line: the PV3 mobile 3-inch thermal printer. The printer is designed for durability and ruggedness, the company reports, and is intended for companies that require large roll capacity, a long battery life, versatile connectivity and built-in dispenser functionality.

The PV3 is built with durable polycarbonate and rubber overmolding. It can withstand drop impacts of up to 6.9 feet, according to the company, and weighs 1.5 pounds. The device is built for use in the warehousing, healthcare, food-safety and law-enforcement sectors, with data processing and printing speeds of up to 5 inches per second, as well as connectivity across multiple networks.

The printer is water-resistant and dust-proof, the company reports, making it suitable for warehouses and retail locations. "We believe that the PV3 is the printing solution that users have been searching for," said Goro Yumiba, SATO's chairperson and CEO, in a prepared statement. "Our newest economical compact 3-inch mobile printer provides quick and easy drop-in media loading, comes standard with a built-in dispenser and multiple connectivity options including Bluetooth, Wireless LAN and USB with Android and iOS compatibility, to provide seamless integration across all applications."

Brytemap Intros Handheld RFID Compliance Tool for Cannabis Companies

Brytemap, a provider of technologies for the legalized cannabis industry, has introduced the Scout, a new addition to its software solutions suite. The Scout is designed to help cannabis growers, processors and dispensaries leverage RFID for instant inventory audits and reconciliation.

"In the many conversations we've had with stakeholders in all areas of the industry, the thing we hear most consistently is that Metrc compliance continues to be a challenge and priority," said Bryan Lopez, Brytemap's founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. "We hear stories ranging from RFID tags being absentmindedly put in peoples' pockets, to substantial fines being assessed because a grower threw out a tag they believed to be damaged, or tags being applied to plants without having been assigned in Metrc."

"Brytemap's Scout RFID-based handheld device addresses those issues head-on by allowing instant inventory auditing and item location through our technology," Lopez added in the prepared statement. "Growers can better track plants, processors and dispensaries can prevent misplacing package tags, and everyone can stay in compliance much more easily."

Built on Android-based technology and residing on a Zebra Technologies handheld RFID device, Scout offers up-to-the-minute plant inventory and reconciliation for operators in states utilizing Metrc, as well as quick resolution of compliance inconsistencies that could lead to warnings and fines if left unchecked. In addition, Scout can locate missing tags through its triangulation feature.

Portable Technology Solutions' Software Supports Alien Technology's RFID Reader

Portable Technology Solutions, a provider of mobile data-collection software and systems, has announced that its TracerPlus mobile software supports Alien Technology's ALR-H460 portable rugged RFID reader. The TracerPlus mobile and RFID software is compatible with a range of consumer and professional hardware, the company reports; it can be configured to a user's precise needs, with no programming required.

"TracerPlus is the leading software for mobile applications in our market," said Terry Pruett, Alien's VP of marketing and global reader products, in a prepared statement. "It's a very versatile package. PTS is able to provide our customers with end-to-end support while also providing an extremely powerful, flexible and elegant software tool that addresses key RFID applications. We value our relationship with PTS and consider support for our products within TracerPlus to be a vital part of our success with this new reader."

The ALR-H460 is an Android-based portable data-collection device with an ergonomic design and an IP64 sealing for dust and water resistance. In addition to reading RFID tags, the device can read most 1D and 2D barcodes. The ALR-H460 is targeted at warehouse, logistics and manufacturing applications in the retail industry. The portable reader is part of Alien's range of passive, GS1-based RFID products, including tags and readers.

"PTS is very selective about the RFID hardware that we choose to support," added Brad Horn, PTS's CEO and co-founder, in the prepared statement. "Our developer and reseller partners have been very impressed and excited about the new Alien ALR-H460 device. Coupling our software with this new portable RFID reader and Alien Technology's expertise in RFID chipsets and tags creates a very powerful solution for end users."

Combining TracerPlus's software with Alien's reader, PTS indicates, enables users to migrate to an Android-based data-collection and RFID environment. For businesses that need to upgrade existing Windows-based data-collection environments, the firm notes, this can reduce deployment costs and enable new RFID-based applications.

"In terms of performance and price point, Alien Technology really hit it out of the park with this new device," Horn said in the prepared statement. "With so many anticipating our partnership we expect a lot of demand and successful deployments with the ALR-H460 running TracerPlus applications." PTS and Alien have already tested the integrated solution with one customer. Support for the ALR-H460 in the current version of TracerPlus is available upon request and is expected to become generally available during the first quarter of this year.

Layer3, LORIOT Partner on IoT Solutions for Nigeria

Layer3 and LORIOT have announced a partnership aimed at introducing new Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in Nigeria, with a market size estimated to reach $1 billion by 2025. Layer3, a network provider and system integrator, will focus on the smart-city and smart-building sectors, while Layer3's cloud infrastructure will allow private- and public-sector organizations to access and maintain control of the data generated by their IoT networks.

"This collaboration will bring the dream of smart offices and cities to life," said Shatse Kakwagh, Layer3's executive director, in a prepared statement, "by allowing devices, machines and whole buildings to link into extensive data networks. Loriot, through its LoRaWAN technology, together with our cloud infrastructure and expertise will make this happen. We see enormous potential in Nigeria waiting for this change to happen."

LORIOT supplies operation and management software for a LoRaWAN network, in order to provide performance, flexibility, security and compliance with local regulations. The infrastructure enables IoT sensors to collect data and transmit it via LoRaWAN gateways to the application servers.

"Over the last months, we have been observing a growing interest in LoRaWAN technology in Africa," added Julian Studer, LORIOT's COO, in the prepared statement. "For this reason, last year we upgraded our public infrastructure on the continent to offer better performance to our users. Starting a partnership with a local player, such as Layer3, allows us to support the next phase of this growth process and we expect to see new projects emerge and grow on a large scale in the coming months."

Senet, Digital Matter Team Up on LoRaWAN IoT Asset-Tracking Solutions

Senet, a provider of cloud-based software and services platforms designed to enable global connectivity and the on-demand network build-out for the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced a partnership with Digital Matter, a developer of battery-powered tracking devices and telematics software for asset- and fleet-management applications.

Through this collaboration, the companies have certified several Digital Matter LoRaWAN asset-tracking sensors and had completed the integration of Digital Matter's Telematics Guru GPS tracking software platform with Senet's global LoRaWAN network. Customers using Digital Matter sensors can now connect to the Senet network to visualize and act on location, asset usage and health data through the Telematics Guru platform, or interface sensor data with their own cloud-based asset-tracking applications via an API from Senet's network service.

"We are excited to be partnering with Senet to provide our customers with immediate access to the fastest-growing global LoRaWAN network and a robust set of services to rapidly extend coverage on-demand," said Ken Everett, Digital Matter's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Senet's flexible business models for deploying carrier-grade LoRaWAN networks where and when they are needed, provide a unique cost-optimized approach to implement and expand asset tracking solutions at scale."

"The key to success in the rapidly expanding IoT and Low Power Wide Area Network market is standardization, ecosystem strength, and scalable, cost-effective network coverage," added Bruce Chatterley, Senet's CEO, in the prepared statement. "The ease of integration with Digital Matter's Telematics Guru, coupled with their support for over 150 different third-party tracking platforms, makes them an ideal partner to provide asset tracking and management products and services around the world."

Litmus Automation, Parker Hannifin Sign IoT Software Licensing Agreement

Litmus Automation, a provider of intelligent edge-computing systems, has announced a licensing agreement with the Quick Coupling Division of Parker Hannifin, a supplier of motion and control technologies. Under the terms of the agreement, Parker will offer its customers a Parker-branded version of Litmus' LoopEdge software, known as Voice of the Machine Edge, as part of its IoT product catalog.

Parker will bundle the software with its Industrial IoT gateway and SensoNODE Gold wireless sensors, in order to provide a system to connect to its Voice of the Machine Cloud Industrial Condition Monitoring solution. The technology is suitable for monitoring the conditions of manufacturing equipment and processes, the firm reports, to enable predictive maintenance and avoid equipment downtime. The Voice of the Machine Edge software enables customers to connect to their wireless SensoNODE Gold sensors, as well as to existing legacy programmable logic controllers and machines used on factory floors.

"Combining Litmus Automation's award winning IoT Edge technology with our existing IoT solutions will provide us with a full end-to-end product offering for IoT, including sensors, hardware, Edge and Cloud software," said David Shannon, the business unit manager of Parker's Quick Coupling Division in a prepared statement. "Our IoT solution will allow customers to process, filter and analyze data at the Edge before pushing it to the Cloud."

"Our experience working with large manufacturers has demonstrated that they need a unified edge-to-cloud solution, and we are pleased to partner with Parker Hannifin to provide that solution through another channel in the market," added Vatsal Shah, Litmus Automation's co-founder and CEO, in the prepared statement. "The direction of their IoT product line aligns with ours, to help customers reduce downtime and improve efficiency with Edge Computing solutions."