RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

IoT button from Secufy and Thingstream prioritizes emergency responses; Suprema intros contactless access solution using NFC, BLE; Kudelski Group, CoreKinect enable secure monitoring of medical assets during pandemic; MachNation unveils IoT customer-experience testing service; SATO joins RAIN RFID Alliance; NFC Forum approves global wireless charging specification.

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Presented here are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Secufy, Thingstream, Suprema, The Kudelski Group, CoreKinect, MachNation, SATO, the RAIN RFID Alliance, and the NFC Forum:

IoT Button from Secufy and Thingstream Prioritizes Emergency Responses

Secufy has announced that its IoT Button, powered by Thingstream‘s low-power Internet of Things (IoT) network, is helping to prioritize emergency responses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past eight weeks, the company says, as the coronavirus has spread, it has noticed a large spike in interest, with enquiries from health organizations worldwide seeking solutions to plug critical-care communication challenges. According to Secufy, the demand for the IoT Button to solve critical use cases within health organizations has required it to scale production a hundredfold.

Patients who are sent home with weak symptoms after having tested positive for COVID-19 are given an IoT Button. Should a patient’s condition worsen, he or she can press the button, alerting clinicians through a pre-defined comms channel. This circumnavigates normal telephone helplines which are overloaded, the company explains. Nurse-call systems within hospitals are also overloaded and unable to distinguish between a patient who needs water and one who requires critical help. As such, Secufy says, the button provides an instant secondary comms infrastructure.

The elderly and vulnerable who are self-isolating can receive an IoT Button that cascades an alert to family members in the event of an emergency. The device can act as a tracker to ensure quarantining is being adhered to, or to notify family members if an elderly relative has been out and has not returned.

“We have had orders from health organizations in Spain, Italy and the Middle East, and the volumes required mean we are having to scale at speed to meet demand,” said Holger Mannweiler, Secufy’s founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. “Our IoT Button is simple and reliable, and because it works anywhere in the world and is a cost-effective means, it is applicable to solve global critical-care communications problems. What started out as an idea to protect my own children and is now being used to help the most vulnerable is exciting and humbling at the same time.”

The IoT Button, manufactured by Barcelona-based Versa Design, is waterproof and sanitizable. Its alert function provides three months’ worth of battery life, while the tracking function, when activated continuously, gives the device four days of battery life. Secufy uses Thingstream‘s IoT network to provide the IoT communication layer, which works in 190 countries worldwide on any network.

Suprema Intros Contactless Access Solution Using NFC, BLE

Suprema, a provider of security and biometrics, has announced its Suprema Mobile Access system, a mobile contactless solution and platform for managing, issuing and tracking access credentials using smartphones. Suprema Mobile Access employs a smartphone application with Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to communicate with card readers, allowing access to doors and other secured assets.

Suprema Mobile Access is designed to simplify the management of access cards as the process goes online, without face-to-face interaction, allowing users to remotely manage credentials, issuing and revoking them in real time. Using Suprema’s AirFob Portal, a compaany can issue mobile access cards to users via email. Via a link in the email, users can install Suprema’s AirFob Pass mobile app on their Android or iOS phone. Once the app has been installed, the mobile access card can be used. Users can tap smartphones on a mobile-enabled card reader to access doors and other controlled items.

The app supports background mode, eliminating the requirement to wake up the phone in order to gain access. To ensure the security of user data on the platform, Suprema Mobile Access is designed with such security features as data encryption throughout the process of issuing and using credentials. The backend server for Suprema Mobile Access is managed separately, and the server encryption keys are protected via proprietary methods. The solution complies with the ISO 27001 standard for information security management, the company reports.

Suprema Mobile Access supports both NFC and BLE, providing compatibility with most iOS and Android smartphones. The solution utilizes a method of analyzing the GAP and GATT layers of BLE. By making use of this data, users can present their phones to mobile-enabled card readers without requiring gestures such as the turning or waving of a phone. The authentication of Suprema Mobile Access takes less than 0.5 seconds, according to the company, which is comparable to the speed of reading RFID cards.

Kudelski Group, CoreKinect Enable Secure Monitoring of Medical Assets During Pandemic

The Kudelski Group, a provider of digital security solutions, and CoreKinect, a supplier of hardware design and manufacturing, have announced the launch of a solution enabling hospitals, government agencies and NGOs to track key assets in the fight against COVID-19. Kudelski is providing hardware-based device and data security embedded into CoreKinect’s flexible trackers. The solution can be customized for monitoring the location, quality and authenticity of products, devices or shipments, the companies report.

Hospitals, governments, NGOs and private industry struggle to manage the flow of medications and medical equipment to treatment centers. Up to $3.5 billion worth of pharmaceutical products are destroyed annually due to improper refrigeration during shipping and storage, ruining up to 20 percent of the total drugs shipped. This inability to adequately track the cold chain causes direct, tangible harm to patients when they can’t receive the treatment they require.

CoreKinect’s disposable tracking and sensing solution can be incorporated into boxes, pallets or product packaging to monitor location, temperature, humidity and other transport conditions of medical equipment, consumables and pharmaceuticals throughout a distribution chain. Using LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, 5G or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connections and gateways, the tags can communicate with CoreKinect’s back end and provide up-to-the-minute information to authorized users. Kudelski’s IoT Security Platform technology, embedded in the tags, ensures that all data is encrypted and can be positively authenticated back to the device from which it came.

“We are eager to do our part to enable medical professionals and government agencies to have greater visibility, control and accountability for critical assets,” said Ali Kozlica, CoreKinect’s executive chairman, in a prepared statement, “both during the COVID-19 crisis and to create better efficiency and better patient outcomes in general. Our proprietary hardware architecture allows us to deliver customizable solutions at scale, giving realtime insights that will help save lives at a fraction of the cost of current solutions. Our teams are committed to improving quality of life for patients everywhere.”

Patrick Hauert, Kudelski Group’s VP of IoT security, added in the prepared statement: “Now more than ever, trust, integrity and control are critical to the supply chain that has become a very real lifeline to hospitals around the world. By working with CoreKinect, we’re ensuring tracking data is protected, access to it is controlled, and tracking devices are protected from tampering. This ultimately leads to a single, visible version of the truth that gives confidence to all involved.”

CoreKinect and Kudelski are reaching out to government agencies and other businesses to explore ways to support COVID-19 relief efforts. Those aware of a situation for which this technology could help are invited to contact the company.

MachNation Unveils IoT Customer-Experience Testing Service

MachNation has announced the availability of the MIT-E UX, part of its MachNation IoT Test Environment (MIT-E) line of products and services. Losant, an enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) software company, will be the first to utilize the MIT-E UX offering with its Losant Enterprise IoT Platform.

The MIT-E UX is designed to test and evaluate the components of an IoT platform that impact the platform user experience. MachNation’s developers design, build and evaluate proofs-of-concept that mimic the experience of a typical enterprise using an IoT platform. With the MIT-E UX, the developers have designed and built a POC in multiple IoT platforms simultaneously. This allows MachNation to document, quantify and make recommendations to vendors about their IoT platforms.

“Over the years, we have found MachNation to be a fair and knowledgeable authority of IoT platforms. So when we thought about a partner for this project, we knew we could trust MachNation to provide an independent evaluation,” said Brandon Cannaday, the cofounder and CPO of Losant, in a prepared statement.

MachNation says it believes customers will engage with IoT vendors’ products and approach platform usability in new ways in 2020 and beyond. “As the capabilities of IoT middleware continue to mature, we’re going to see best-in-class vendors differentiating their solutions by improving platform-to-human interfaces,” said Josh Taubenheim, a technology analyst at MachNation, in the prepared statement. “Best-in-class usability reduces time to market for new initiatives, and ultimately saves organizations money by reducing the amount of time developers spend on implementations and getting to production-level scale.”

SATO Joins RAIN RFID Alliance

SATO Holdings has joined the RAIN RFID Alliance, an organization that fosters the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, with a specific focus on promoting the UHF RFID standard (ISO/IEC 18000-63 and GS1’s EPC Gen2) through the testing, support and education of service providers and end users. SATO joins the Alliance’s global forum of more than 160 members seeking to accelerate the adoption of passive UHF RFID.

SATO’s RFID solutions are designed to improve operations, include supply chain management for apparel and retail logistics, the tracking of electronic parts at the factory, and the replenishment of orthopedic loaner sets in hospitals for surgeries. SATO says it has developed a polyethylene-terephthalate-free inlay and tag design to provide an environmentally friendly option for businesses looking to reduce plastic waste from their supply chains.

“RAIN RFID is a wireless technology that connects billions of everyday items to the Internet, enabling businesses and consumers to identify, locate, authenticate, and engage each item,” said Steve Halliday, the president of the RAIN RFID Alliance, in a prepared statement. “The Alliance is very pleased to welcome SATO and we look forward to working with the company and the expertise they bring to the Alliance.”

“With expertise in systems integration, manufacture of RFID printers and the antenna, tag and inlay design and production process itself, SATO aims to be a total solution provider in the RFID business while securing a higher profile in the industry. Especially with RAIN RFID, we rely on our valued partners to bridge the gaps to provide comprehensive auto-ID solutions that excite and delight customers,” said Noriyasu Yamada, SATO’s executive officer and chief Alliance officer, in the prepared statement.

NFC Forum Approves Global Wireless Charging Specification

The NFC Forum, the global standards and advocacy association for Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, has announced that its Board of Directors has approved and adopted the Wireless Charging Specification (WLC), which makes it possible to wirelessly charge small, battery-powered consumer and IoT devices with a smartphone or other NFC charging device at a power transfer rate of up to one watt. This will improve the user experience for the two billion consumers and businesses using smartphones and other NFC-enabled devices, according to the organization.

The WLC enables a single antenna in an NFC-enabled device to manage both communications and charging. The solution is designed to make it easier and more convenient to charge low-power IoT devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, wireless earbuds, digital pens and other consumer devices. The WLC was published last year as a Candidate Specification, and after a careful validation process, the NFC Forum is now publishing this specification as an adopted Technical Specification, ready for market implementation.

“The NFC Forum’s Wireless Charging Technical Specification allows for wireless charging of small battery-powered devices like those found in many of the estimated 36 billion IoT devices in use today,” said Koichi Tagawa, the chair of the NFC Forum, in a prepared statement. “NFC wireless charging is truly transformative because it changes the way we design and interact with small, battery-powered devices as the elimination of plugs and cords enables the creation of smaller, hermetically-sealed devices.”

This NFC specification utilizes the 13.56 MHz base frequency and leverages the NFC communication link to control the power transfer. NFC technology allows the transfer of power to an NFC tag to enable communication by providing a constant carrier signal. The WLC specification extends this communication functionality of NFC technology to enable wireless charging.