RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Mainetti offers RFID solution for omnichannel retail; Guardhat smart hardhats certified safe for hazardous sites; CAEN RFID intros long-range reader for industrial use; PSA Certification accredits Silicon Labs IoT security solution; Ergosense launches IoT-based indoor virus-detection system; Avnet adds Ripples IOT to its partner program; Phoenics Electronics named exclusive North American Synaptics distributor.

Presented here are recent news announcements regarding the following organizations: Mainetti, Guardhat, CAEN RFID, Silicon Labs, Ergosense, Ripples IOT, Avnet, Phoenics Electronics and Synaptics.

Mainetti Offers RFID Solution for Omnichannel Retail
Retail solutions provider  Mainetti has announced its NextLevel RFID solution, designed to help retailers increase profitability and improve the customer experience. According to the company, the solution is intended to help companies simplify their omnichannel processes, focus on customer needs, enhance supply chain visibility and maintain an accurate accounting of inventory levels.

The NextLevel RFID system provides unified inventory across a supply chain, the company reports, following a single item in near-real time. "Customer loyalty is fleeting," said Alan Tamny, Mainetti's global GM for intelligent solutions, in a prepared statement. "No longer will customers put up with out-of-stocks, difficult-to-find products or frustrating shopping experiences when they can turn to large e-commerce providers who can have a similar product delivered sometimes in hours. Mainetti's solution assures that customers receive the item they want, when and where they want it."

Mainetti says it has made significant technology investments, which has included acquiring The Star Group and Reca Group. The firm has also invested in  Retail Reload, a software-as-a-service solution designed to boost inventory accuracy. Mainetti's global network and supply chain resources offers customers an end-to-end solution comprising RFID labels, software, hardware, service and support.

"Working with the world's largest apparel brands and retailers has given Mainetti unique insight into the needs of the industry," added Roberto Peruzzo, the company's CEO, in the prepared statement. "Our customers rely on us to continually innovate and help them grow their businesses to assure profitability for today and tomorrow. NextLevel RFID provides a comprehensive solution for our global customers to do just that."

Guardhat Smart Hardhats Certified Safe for Hazardous Sites
Guardhat, a provider of connected safety solutions, has announced that it has received IECEx and ATEX Zone 1 certifications for its IS-HC1.1 Communicator hardhat. Preventable workplace deaths and injuries are on the rise, the company explains, but many technological developments that have increased connectivity and safety in the consumer world cannot be used in industrial environments, such as oil and gas operations and chemical production sites, where more injurious accidents occur.

The recent certifications, Guardhat explains, allow industrial operators throughout Europe, Australia and the Middle East to deploy its smart hardhats as part of the company's connected safety and productivity solutions. The IS-HC1.1 Communicator hardhat, as well as the firm's ultra-wideband gateways for precise location tracking, are now under review for similar certifications in North America and South America.

"These certifications validate years of design and engineering effort to create the most ruggedized and technologically advanced system for worker safety in existence," said Saikat Dey, Guardhat's founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. "To design an electronic, battery-powered, audio-visual, multi-network and cellular connectivity-capable device to be incapable of generating heat or spark was extremely challenging. Not to mention that it has to sit comfortably atop a worker's head, protecting them in all the ways a traditional hard hat would. I'm extremely proud of our team, and hopeful about the impact this offering can have. Every worker should be able to go home at the end of a shift."

According to Guardhat, industrial operations are classified as hazardous "when there is a possibility of fire or explosion under normal or abnormal operating conditions due to the presence of flammable, combustible or ignitable gases, vapors, liquids, dust, or fibers." This involves more than just chemical or energy production plants, the company notes, as even products like powdered cheese can pose a potential hazard at food-production plants.

"There have been few solutions developed that can deliver upon industrial requirements," added Malavika Tohani, Verdantix's research director, in the prepared statement. "You can't just waltz into a production floor with any old IoT device. They need solutions that were designed to withstand harsh environments, to protect company IP and worker privacy, and to enable connectivity even in remote locations or in the face of disruptions. They need electronics that won't, under any conditions, cause a fire. Very few solutions can deliver on this, which makes certifications like the one Guardhat received all the more impactful."

Guardhat partnered with  i.safe MOBILE, a provider of mobile communication devices for hazardous locations, in the certification process. The intrinsically safe hardhat retains the features and capabilities of the original HC1 Communicator, the company reports, including sensor-based contextual awareness; multi-modal, high-precision real-time positioning and proximity detection; audio-visual telecommunications; peripheral connectivity; and multiple wireless backhaul options. The IS HC1.1 Communicator hardhat is available now.

CAEN RFID Intros Long-Range Reader for Industrial Use
CAEN RFID  has announced its Proton long-range RFID reader, model R4320P, as part of its easy2read product line, which the company says is suitable for industrial environment installations. The Proton reader comes with four antenna ports capable of 31.5 dBm maximum power, enabling users to build RFID portals for logistics. Its compact form factor makes it easy to install, the company reports, while its IP65 protection rating permits outdoor or harsh environment installations.

The Proton features Power-over-Ethernet, RS232 and GPIOs via industry-standard M12 connectors, making it suitable for industrial automation and Industry 4.0 solutions. The device is based on an embedded Linux platform and it can be configured using an internal web interface. Systems integrators can customize the reader's behavior by installing Java code with access to all RFID features and interfaces.

The Proton reader complies with and can operate in both European and U.S. regulatory environments. Due to its multiregional capabilities, the company indicates, it is intended for integration in devices requiring compliance with the requirements of multiple geographical regions. It is offered in a form factor of 131 by 106 by 50 square millimeters (0.2 by 0.16 by 0.08 square inch) and can be powered by a 12- or 24-volt battery.

These features, according to CAEN RFID, make the Proton viable for vehicle-mount applications, such as on industrial vehicles like forklifts, trucks or AGVs. The Proton is designed to work in industrial or outdoor environments, comes with a robust enclosure for mechanical protection, and is waterproof and protected from dust. This, CAEN reports, makes it suitable for use in inventory tracking or sorting applications at factories.

PSA Certification Accredits Silicon Labs IoT Security Solution
Silicon Labs, a provider of silicon, software and connected solutions, has announced that it has achieved  PSA Certified's highest level of Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and software security protection. PSA Certified—a security body for IoT hardware, software and devices, co-founded by  Arm—has awarded its Level 3 status to Silicon Labs' EFR32MG21 wireless system-on-chip with Secure Vault.

Secure Vault offers stringent security software and PUF hardware requirements as defined by PSA Certified Level 3, to greatly reduce the risk of IoT ecosystem security breaches and the compromise of intellectual property or revenue loss from counterfeiting. The technology protects against scalable local and remote software attacks, as well as local hardware attacks, and passes testing from independent third-party laboratories that attempt to infringe security functions for a specified amount of time with sophisticated equipment, the company reports.

"As attacks on IoT applications continue to rise and grow in complexity, the importance of securing devices at the chip level remains crucial," said Andy Rose, Arm's chief system architect, in a prepared statement. "Silicon Labs is the first silicon provider to achieve PSA Certified Level 3 status, demonstrating a proven PSA Root of Trust and a solution that offers substantial protection against an extensive range of sophisticated software and hardware attacks."

"The continued growth of the IoT depends on trusting that devices are authentic and secure when they join ecosystems," added Matt Johnson, Silicon Labs' senior VP of IoT, in the prepared statement. "Security certifications like PSA Certified Level 3 give IoT device makers and end users the assurances they need to know their IoT applications are protecting their secret identities used for authentication and prevent counterfeit or rogue devices from entering their supply chain, which can cause irreparable harm to brands and revenue."

Johnson added: "Silicon Labs is passionate about innovating the silicon, software and solutions needed to ensure the IoT grows safely and securely for the consumers, businesses, and industries we serve. We have made strategic investments to become the leading provider of secure IoT wireless solutions and becoming the world's first silicon innovator to achieve PSA Certified's highest level of security is strong validation we're succeeding."

Ergosense Launches IoT-based Indoor Virus-Detection System
Ergosense, which develops smart data solutions to influence employee productivity and optimize workspace environments, has announced the global availability of its AIRLAB air quality monitoring system. The system enables the accurate monitoring of carbon dioxide, pollutants, temperature, humidity and the presence of particles at virus size levels within indoor environments, the company reports. It is intended for business workplace environments, retail and hospitality spaces, schools, universities, hospitals and public transport.

AIRLAB's sensor can detect five factors associated with the conditions under which viruses thrive: particulate matter, carbon dioxide, total volatile organic compounds, temperature and humidity. The sensor can also detect indoor sound levels. The plug-and-connect solution is intended to help users plan, monitor, maintain and promote a healthy environment in which individuals can come together. Multiple indoor air quality data points are collected in real time and are presented via a graphical interface.

To ensure global connectivity, AIRLAB uses  u-blox's Thingstream IoT communication-as-a-service solution, which provides low-power GSM coverage in more than 190 countries. As part of a strategic partnership with Ergosense,  TechData will distribute the AIRLAB system via partners in the EMEA markets. "By integrating particulate matter monitoring into our comprehensive IAQ solution," said Leon Roodt, Ergosense's CEO, in a prepared statement, "we are giving those who manage indoor spaces the ability to predict and identify hazardous situations. As we look to ways of providing safer working environments, our sensor data can provide a key insight to make informed decisions."

Fernando Martin, who heads up TechData's Smart Spaces and IoT initiative for the EMEA region, added in the prepared statement: "Never more than today is it important to have technology to help companies create and understand occupant experience in their facilities. Having devices such as AIRLAB facilitates the obtaining of accurate values on the environmental quality of the work environment. Additionally, having connectivity such as that provided by u-blox allows companies to maintain a secure network environment and not have to bother with the maintenance of the devices themselves. It is undoubtedly one of the most complete solutions, which also solves one of the most important problems for human resources and facility managers."

Avnet Adds Ripples IOT to Its Partner Program
Ripples IOT has joined  Avnet's IoTConnect Partner Program, part of Avnet's IoTConnect solutions suite, allowing the company to build Internet of Things solutions and scale them quickly and cost-effectively. Ripples offers IoT asset-tracking solutions for customers in industrial automation, supply chain, logistics and healthcare, which can be integrated with devices from various vendors. The company's portfolio includes solutions for indoor farm regulation, such as tracking temperature, humidity and other parameters; retail store environment control; earthquake warning and evaluation; and indoor inventory positioning and workflow monitoring.

Using Avnet's  Microsoft Azure-powered IoTConnect platform, Ripples will now be able to connect devices and address the software and hardware needs of those IoT solutions. "Our customers turn to us for our ability to integrate multiple devices from various vendors seamlessly," said Duleep Sahadevan, a co-founder of Ripples IoT, in a prepared statement. "To deliver on that promise, we need to rely on a program that solves for the integration challenge across both the IT and OT spectrum. We're excited to join Avnet's IoTConnect Partner Program and look forward to taking advantage of its reach, reliability, maturity and flexibility for our customers' needs."

Avnet's Partner Program enables systems integrators and original equipment manufacturers to build new solutions and service models for their practice on the IoTConnect platform. This enables developers to enhance their solutions with Avnet's Smart Applications line—access devices certified for use on IoTConnect—and to facilitate proof-of-concept deployment. As a program participant, Ripples will offer applications to accelerate and scale IoT solution development.

"We're excited to have Ripples join our IoTConnect partner program," added Lou Lutostanski, Avnet's VP of IoT, in the prepared statement. "Their work is a textbook example of integrated IoT development that stands to benefit from our extensive suite of expertise and solutions. As a partner, Ripples can address both their hardware and software needs, deliver unmatched global reach and maximize their revenue potential."

Phoenics Electronics Named Exclusive North American Synaptics Distributor
In addition, Avnet has announced that its company  Phoenics Electronics is now the exclusive North American distributor for  Synaptics. Phoenics will extend available capabilities for Synaptics' technologies, including technical design, logistics and purchasing support. "This collaboration gives our customers in North America best-in-class access and support to the entire Synaptics portfolio," said Phil Kumin, Synaptics' senior VP of worldwide sales, in a prepared statement.

"With our recent acquisitions of  Broadcom's IoT wireless product line, DisplayLink, and our strategic partnership with  ETA Compute for AI on our Katana ultra-low power edge devices," Kumin said, "it became clear that expanding into these newer vertical IoT markets required a partner like Phoenics. Phoenics met all of our criteria with their flexibility, focused line card, extensive customer relationships, and comprehensive support for all stages of the supply chain from concept to production."

Peter Rooks, the president of Phoenics Electronics, added in the prepared statement: "Synaptics' product offering will complement Phoenics' existing suppliers, while strengthening the company's focus in multiple market segments. Those markets for Synaptics products include AI, automotive, audio headsets and hearables, AR/VR headsets, smart home & retail, voice assistant devices, wireless, and smart displays."

Phoenics will provide the infrastructure required to enable design support for Synaptics' products. The move allows Phoenics to expand into more consumer-oriented markets, the company explains, including the IoT, audio-video and wearables, while enhancing its worldwide logistics capabilities.