RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Tapwow, Avery Dennison intro NFC tag kit; NXP launches secure IoT edge device cloud platform; Senet, New Cosmos USA partner on LoRaWAN natural gas alarm; Avnet Silica, Insight SiP team up for BLE, LPWAN modules; Industrial Internet Consortium offers IIoT test drives; Soracom unveils IoT connectivity pricing.

Presented here are recent news announcements regarding the following organizations: Avery Dennison, Avnet Silica, Insight SiP, the Industrial Internet Consortium, New Cosmos USA, NXP Semiconductors, Senet, Soracom, and Tapwow.

Tapwow, Avery Dennison Intro NFC Tag Kit
Tapwow, in conjunction with  Avery Dennison, has announced the release of its Getting Started with NFC Tag Kit. The kit features a variety of Near Field Communication (NFC) tags from Avery Dennison's Smartrac brand, featuring  NXP Semiconductors' NFC ICs combined with Tapwow's DIRX2 tag-management software platform that helps customers commence NFC projects.

As a growing number of customers are utilizing smart packaging and connected products featuring NFC technology, Tapwow says the company and Avery Dennison sought to create a kit that would allow users to employ NFC tags in their own environment, as well as assign meaningful content. With a few clicks in the DIRX2 platform, a customer can create a working demonstration or proof-of-concept, including tap analytics that can be accessed from any smartphone.

"It is an exciting time for touchless connectivity throughout the world," said Michael Sher, Tapwow's CEO, in a prepared statement. "We worked with Avery Dennison Smartrac, a leader in NFC technology, to get NFC tags in the hands of the end user to see what was possible and how easy the technology is to use. With recent surges in touchless connectivity and payments, more brands have been looking at how to take advantage of NFC technology to create a 'hand to brand' connection with their customers. This kit gives them the tags and the software to get started."

"At Avery Dennison, we have vast experience in the design, development, production and implementation of NFC tags globally across many industries," added Amir Khoshniyati, the head of Avery Dennison Smartrac's NFC business, in the prepared statement. "Based on our NFC Forum certifications around both quality and performance, our NFC Tags are reliable and positioned to globally scale to enterprise volumes at a moment's notice. This tag kit allows us to showcase our unique and highly demanded NFC products, which feature NXP ICs in a format that makes the technology accessible and easy to configure with the Tapwow software."

The kit was designed for customers in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, healthcare, wine and spirits, and more. Tapwow reports that the technology can enable customer engagement, brand protection, traceability, and reuse and recycling. The tags, built on NXP's NTAG and ICODE chips, offer functionalities and security levels to meet customers' specific needs, the company indicates.

NXP Launches Secure IoT Edge Device Cloud Platform
NXP Semiconductors, a provider of Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions, has introduced its EdgeLock 2GO IoT service platform for secure deployment and management of IoT devices and services. The platform is integrated with NXP's Common Criteria (CC) EAL 6+ certified EdgeLock SE050 secure element to protect IoT devices at the edge and securely connect them to cloud and service providers.

"EdgeLock 2GO provides a full range of choices and options that optimize the costs around credential and device management, while delivering advanced device security for companies operating in the IoT," said Philippe Dubois, NXP's VP and general manager of secure edge identification, in a prepared statement. "The platform provides a highly flexible approach to IoT security that protects edge devices connecting to services and maintains edge device security throughout its entire lifecycle."

The EdgeLock 2GO platform, combined with NXP's EdgeLock SE050 secure element for key protection and management, provides security via a certified Trust Anchor, the company reports. The platform is designed to streamline secure cloud onboarding and access to IoT devices from different service providers, and to simplify application credential management with zero-touch connectivity to public and private clouds, edge computing platforms and infrastructure. With EdgeLock 2GO, NXP reports, device makers and service providers can onboard or transfer devices into cloud platforms. It offers tailored options for customers to register devices on Amazon Web Services using multi-account registration, just-in-time provisioning and just-in-time registration.

EdgeLock 2GO supports multiple credentials and any IoT device, from sensors to edge-computing platforms, with the ability to tailor options for device rollouts. This, NXP explains, accelerates time-to-market with late-stage device configuration in the field, while enabling device makers and service providers to connect IoT devices to multiple clouds and service providers. Device manufacturers need not handle keys or certificates, the firm notes, and EdgeLock 2GO can update, revoke or add new device credentials, simplifying the management of large fleets of IoT devices connecting to multiple cloud services.

EdgeLock 2GO, part of the EdgeLock Assurance program, provides three options for managing credentials: EdgeLock 2GO Ready for simple use cases, such as device onboarding to public clouds with pre-previsioned EdgeLock SE050 ICs; EdgeLock 2GO Custom for creating custom EdgeLock SE050 ICs to support complex configurations; and EdgeLock 2GO Managed for managing credentials and multiple services throughout a device's lifecycle.

Senet, New Cosmos USA Partner on LoRaWAN Natural Gas Alarm
Senet, a provider of cloud-based software and services platforms that enable global connectivity and on-demand network build-outs for the Internet of Things (IoT), has partnered with  New Cosmos USA to develop a new version of New Cosmos's Wireless Natural Gas Alarm (model 806NLR). The companies have certified the alarm's operation on Senet's public, SLA-backed, carrier-grade LoRaWAN network. New Cosmos USA is a subsidiary of New Cosmos Electric, which has a 70 percent market share in the residential natural gas alarm market in Japan and has sold more than 70 million alarms worldwide.

New Cosmos USA and Senet are currently engaged in field trials with large multi-utility service providers to explore use cases focused on improving safety levels and reliability across regional natural gas distribution networks. By addressing site connectivity challenges and offering sensing and alerting features, the companies report, this collaboration is intended to meet the needs of utilities, state regulators and other natural gas stakeholders focused on using emerging technologies to ensure the safety, reliability and efficiency of an aging infrastructure. The alarm enables utility companies to monitor for potential gas leaks, and it alerts residents to potentially dangerous situations.

Features include a 10 percent lower explosive limit (LEL) gas alarm threshold, according to the company, which exceeds the industry standard of 25 percent. The system can alert residents to emergency situations via an 85dB alarm warning sound and instructive voice warnings, with wireless communication to the utility company for early warning and event-response preparation. A battery life of around six years allows for wireless installation anywhere throughout a home, the firm notes, as well as self-monitoring for sensor functionality and battery life.

"We are proud to offer the most reliable, nuisance-resistant alarm solution for dangerous residential gas leak explosions," said Ron Lazarus, New Cosmos USA's COO, in a prepared statement. "The ability to expand our reach with Senet's carrier-grade network services, built on the open LoRaWAN protocol, is an exciting and cost-effective way for our utility partners to continue modernizing many aspects of the gas delivery system, including early leak detection and alerting for rapid response."

"Unlike lesser featured LoRaWAN network services designed to deliver IoT connectivity, Senet has implemented all the carrier-grade components essential to ensuring the operation of critical infrastructure and essential business applications in utility, municipal and enterprise markets," added Bruce Chatterley, Senet's CEO, in the prepared statement. "We look forward to a successful partnership with New Cosmos to help deliver new levels of safety and service to the natural gas market."

Avnet Silica, Insight SiP Team Up for BLE, LPWAN Modules
Avnet Silica, an Avnet company, has signed a distribution agreement with  Insight SiP, a developer of ultra-miniature RF modules with embedded antennas using system-in-package and antenna-in-package technologies. Avnet has regional agreements in place with Insight SiP and recently announced a distribution partnership in Japan. Avnet Silica's customers throughout the EMEA region can now purchase a range of Insight SiP modules, including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) modules for short-range networking.

These include the iSP19, iSP18 and iSP15 series, designed to provide low-power wireless connectivity in PCs, smartphones, IoT-based smart objects and M2M across such sectors as domotics (the combining of IT, electronics and electrotechnics in smart homes) and home automation, as well as healthcare, industrial and wearables. They can also request the LPWAN iSP45 series, which incorporates long-range LoRa connectivity with short-range BLE 5.0 and NFC for setup and maintenance. All Insight SiP modules offered by Avnet Silica feature integrated antennas and are certified by the  Bluetooth SIG and global regulatory bodies, such as the FCC, CE and TELEC.

The increased demand for wireless connectivity in portable electronic devices has driven manufacturers to offer smaller, more cost-effective solutions, the companies report, which has made the integration of RF into a single product more complex, while increasing technical risks. "Insight SiP's system-in-package approach makes complex RF systems easy to integrate in any existing or future connected application," said Laurence Dellicott, Avnet Silica's director of supplier management, in a prepared statement. "By developing products with Insight SiP modules, our customers are able to reduce their design complexity and achieve faster time-to-market."

"Avnet Silica's strength is in the semiconductor sector and its existing distribution partnerships with the world's top chip suppliers, including some of those that supply Insight SiP," added Nick Wood, Insight SiP's sales and marketing director, in the prepared statement. "This makes our agreement particularly beneficial for mutual customers across EMEA, enabling them to access our integrated modules alongside these chip level offerings."

Industrial Internet Consortium Offers IIoT Test Drives
The Industrial Internet Consortium has launched its Supply Network Dynamic Simulation Test Drive. Developed by  Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), a unit of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (ASTAR), the solution is intended to help manufacturers optimize supply network design and minimize supply and demand disruptions.

Through simulations, the test drive enables supply chain partners to perform network design and optimization models to evaluate risks and countermeasures before undertaking real-world deployments. For example, they can identify distribution centers to best serve customers, as well as verify savings in transportation and warehouse costs. Manufacturers can experiment with hypothetical scenarios to review the effects of changing inventory or sourcing policies within a supply chain.

Test drives—short-term, rapid-engagement pilots for technology end users to employ and adopt Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies—are intended to stimulate IIoT adoption across industry through accelerated implementation. The Industrial Internet Consortium's neutral collaboration platform fosters partnering in order to address IIoT use cases for projects lasting for three to six month, based on the issues that technology end users face.

To consider a test drive pilot deployment, an end user may select a test drive proposal from the Consortium's test drive repository, or it can engage in an exercise to define a problem and connect with experts to propose solutions. More information can be found  at the organization's website.

Soracom Unveils IoT Connectivity Pricing
Soracom, a provider of connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced a flat-rate pricing plan enabling companies deploying IoT solutions in the United States and Canada to reduce connectivity costs by 30 to 60 percent. According to Soracom, IoT manufacturers, product developers and businesses can receive IoT connectivity with a large coverage footprint and predictable monthly and annual pricing for their IoT deployments, through the company's new pricing model.

Customers deploying devices in the United States or Canada can choose between Soracom's standard pay-as-you-go global plan and its new flat-rate plan, which includes a set amount of 3G, LTE or LTE-M connectivity at a monthly cost. This, according to the company, provides users that primarily build, test or operate IoT solutions in North America with a service similar to Soracom's global offering. Packages start at $1 per month, and data can be selected in increments of 3, 20, 50, or 100 MB, with customers able to change their monthly allocation through Soracom's user console.

If a device exceeds its allocation, overages are billed at standard rates to ensure devices remain online. According to Soracom, its new pricing model allows users to scale up or down as project requirements change. For early-stage projects seeking traction, the company explains, this offers the flexibility to get prototypes into the field within days, or to pause service if necessary. For successful projects scaling up, packages can be adjusted without businesses having to renegotiate legacy agreements built around smaller deployments.

"From the outset, we've pledged to make the most advanced IoT connectivity accessible to anyone with a device and a great idea," said Kenta Yasukawa, Soracom's cofounder and CTO, in a prepared statement. "We want to make it easy for everyone to build, launch, and scale new connected solutions and experiences. That begins with making IoT connectivity simple and affordable."