RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

STMicroelectronics intros evaluation boards for smart grids, IoT; NFC company Panthronics, RFID firm AdvanIDe form partnership; OleumTech unveils IoT-based temperature transmitter; Digital Twin Consortium, FIWARE Foundation collaborate; Avnet offers hardware for embedded computing, edge IoT.

Presented here are recent news announcements regarding the following organizations: STMicroelectronics, Panthronics, AdvanIDe, OleumTech, the Digital Twin Consortium, the FIWARE Foundation, and Avnet.

STMicroelectronics Intros Evaluation Boards for Smart Grids, IoT
With the goal of accelerating connectivity in smart-grid and Internet of Things (IoT) devices,  STMicroelectronics has revealed a development ecosystem for its ST8500 programmable powerline communication (PLC) modem chipset. Comprising two evaluation boards targeting the 868 and 915 MHz license-free RF bands, along with documented firmware, the ecosystem is designed to help users build and test nodes that comply with the G3-PLC Hybrid standard for dual PLC and RF connectivity.

Equipment such as smart meters, environmental monitors, lighting controllers and industrial sensors containing the ST8500 chipset, which supports G3-PLC Hybrid, can select the powerline or wireless channel autonomously and change dynamically to ensure reliable connections. The chipset combines the ST8500 protocol controller system-on-chip, which runs ST's G3-PLC Hybrid firmware, with the STLD1 PLC line driver and S2-LP sub-GHz radio. Devices containing the chipset are backward-compatible and interoperable with any G3-PLC network, the company reports.

ST's hybrid protocol stack is based on G3-PLC, IEEE 802.15.4, 6LowPAN and IPv6 open standards. By embedding support for RF Mesh at the physical and data-link layers, the company reports, the ST8500 combines the strengths of powerline and wireless mesh networking for communication between smart nodes and data collectors. Unlike point-to-point links, hybrid mesh networking interconnects nodes to improve reliability, strengthen fault-tolerant connections and extend communication distance.

The two hardware-development kits handle PLC and RF connectivity, as well as application processing. The EVLKST8500GH868 kit is configured for 868 MHz RF operation as recommended in the European Union, while the EVLKST8500GH915 kit operates in the 915 MHz band used throughout the Americas and Asia. Each kit comes with the STSW-ST8500GH software framework and documentation. The kits are built to be combined with an STM32 Nucleo board for scalable application processing and compatible with ST's portfolio of X-NUCLEO expansion boards for function extension.

NFC Company Panthronics, RFID Firm AdvanIDe Form Partnership
Panthronics, a fabless semiconductor company, has announced that it has signed a global partnership agreement with  AdvanIDe, a supplier of NFC, RFID and smart-card components. The partnership enables users of Panthronics' NFC reader ICs and NFC wireless charging controllers to utilize AdvanIDe's experience with applications such as point-of-sale terminals, contactless payments and access control, as well as its design-in engineering support.

"Panthronics is delighted to have formed a partnership with AdvanIDe, the leading name in the specialist NFC supply chain," said David Renno, Panthronics' director of marketing, in a prepared statement. "Panthronics' innovations in NFC controller architecture create opportunities for OEMs to dramatically improve system performance in challenging applications such as small, mobile payment terminals. The expertise and support which AdvanIDe provides to developers of NFC and RFID-based systems will help them take full advantage of the superior capabilities of Panthronics' products."

AdvanIDe will provide engineering support, sales and supply chain service to OEMs using Panthronics' PTX100R NFC reader IC and PTX100W NFC wireless charging controller. Headquartered in Singapore, AdvanIDe serves customers worldwide through its regional sales and engineering offices in China, India, North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa and Russia. Panthronics' full-service partnership agreement with AdvanIDe is effective immediately.

"The Panthronics reader portfolio meets the NFC market's need for performance, power savings, and security," added Jason Hitipeuw, AdvanIDe's segment head for smart mobility, objects, consumers and secure infrastructure, in the prepared statement. "By adding Panthronics to AdvanIDe's world-class offering of NFC and RFID technology manufacturers, we can offer exciting new options for NFC communications and charging to our customers worldwide."

OleumTech Unveils IoT-based Temperature Transmitter

OleumTech, a provider of industrial automation and IoT solutions, has announced a new RTD temperature transmitter in its H Series line of hardwired instrumentation, available in 4-20 mA and RS485 Modbus. The H Series RTD transmitter is intended for mission-critical industrial applications, the company reports. The newly added device is designed for use in Class I, Division 1 hazardous locations with an explosion-proof, IP67-rated housing. Users can configure the device via buttons on its backlit LCD interface, while gaining instant local access to temperature data.

"Our goal is to continue to develop feature-rich, highly reliable, and accurate process automation instrumentation while offering them at price points unrivaled by our competitors," said Vrej Isa, OleumTech's COO, in a prepared statement. "With our new hardwired RTD Transmitter, we are doing exactly that. We will stay persistent in our efforts in providing new and better choices and enable OleumTech as a one-stop-shop for remote process automation needs."

Digital Twin Consortium, FIWARE Foundation Collaborate
The  Digital Twin Consortium and the  FIWARE Foundation have entered into a collaborative agreement to accelerate the development, deployment and adoption of open digital-twin technologies. As digital twins are growing in capabilities and sophistication, the organizations explain, grasping their full potential may require integrating systems and data across entire organizational ecosystems.

The two entities have agreed to collaborate on digital-twin standardization requirements and the open-source implementation of jointly identified standards requirements; realize interoperability based on information exchange by harmonizing technology components and other elements; and align work in horizontal sectors toward the adoption of results in vertical domains through reference use cases and pilot projects. They will also document case studies, from initial concept to implementation and operational analysis, as well as foster adoption among academia, researchers and companies regarding open standards for digital twins and open-source technology.

"We are excited about our collaboration with FIWARE Foundation," said Dan Isaacs, the Digital Twin Consortium's chief technical officer, in a prepared statement. "Their knowledge and experience in contributing to the definition of open standards across industries, following an implementation-driven open-source approach, will be invaluable as we work together to advance the adoption of digital twin technology."

"The concept of digital twin dates back to the early 90s and reached, in the meantime, a broad market adoption in Industry 4.0," added Ulrich Ahle, the FIWARE Foundation's chief executive officer, in the prepared statement. "One of the core contributions of FIWARE Foundation has been the definition of standard APIs for accessing digital twin data and standard digital twin data models, which goes beyond manufacturing and work across multiple sectors including cities, agrifood, utilities and others. Joining forces with Digital Twin Consortium will boost the benefits for the FIWARE Community and end users that are adopting digital twin technologies."

The FIWARE Foundation will actively contribute to the Digital Twin Consortium's working groups. The two organizations will disseminate the results of their collaboration through regular events and seminars in an effort to promote the adoption of digital-twin technologies, with the goal of supporting the development of sustainable open ecosystems

Avnet Offers Hardware for Embedded Computing, Edge IoT
Technology solutions provider  Avnet has announced that it is adding the MaaXBoard Nano single-board computer to its portfolio of hardware. Based on  NXP Semiconductors' i.MX 8M Nano processor, the MaaXBoard Nano is intended for embedded computing and smart edge IoT applications, the company reports, and it can provide audio with four microphones and an audio jack. The product is FCC-, CE- and RoHS-certified and is designed to provide users with the flexibility to design and test concepts, and to focus on the software side of product development.

The MaaXBoard Nano contains the components to support and create a Linux-, Android- or other OS-based system, the company indicates. The platform offers onboard peripherals, including 1 gigabyte of DDR4 memory, a Gigabit Ethernet port, quad USB 2.0 host ports, MIPI-DSI, MIPI-CSI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a MicroSD card slot, four on-board microphones and an audio jack. A  Raspberry Pi hat-compatible expansion connector provides interfaces for UART, SPI, I2C and GPIO.

"By offering a low-cost i.MX 8M Nano single board computer, developers can focus on the software side of design as they leverage our hardware solution," said Jim Beneke, Avnet's VP of products and emerging technologies, in a prepared statement. "The MaaxBoard Nano is Avnet's latest addition to the single board computer form-factor MaaXBoard collection of NXP-based boards. The capabilities of the MaaXBoard Nano can be extended even further when combined with Avnet's IoTConnect Platform making it ideal for AI, IoT, industrial automation, multi-media and audio applications."

Avnet's IoTConnect platform is cloud-based and scalable to address common industry needs and challenges, according to the company. With a standardized way to harness the IoT, Avnet explains, designers can build smart apps and solutions on the platform, in order to extend capabilities and support best practices and data-driven decision-making. By leveraging Microsoft's enterprise-grade Azure hybrid cloud computing service, the IoTConnect platform enables the distribution and analysis of data.

The MaaXBoard Nano utilizes NXP's i.MX 8 family of application processors, which are based on the Arm Cortex-A53 and Cortex-M7 cores. These chips also provide audio, voice and video processing for applications that scale from consumer home audio to industrial building automation and embedded computers.