RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

SUKU, Avery Dennison Smartrac, EM Micro partner on healthcare traceability; Telefónica Tech, Fibocom Wireless, Aitos.io team up for IoT-blockchain offerings; AVSystem connects LPWAN IoT devices to Microsoft, Amazon platforms; World Alliance for Efficient Solutions recognizes Xidas IoT; UrsaLeo, Shiratech collaborate on predictive-maintenance products; RFID firm Know Labs secures new financing; USDA to pursue rulemaking on RFID use in animal disease traceability.

Presented here are recent news announcements regarding the following organizations: SUKU, Avery Dennison Smartrac, EM Microelectronic, Telefónica Tech, Fibocom Wireless, Aitos.io, AVSystem, Xidas IoT, UrsaLeo, Shiratech, Know Labs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

SUKU, Avery Dennison Smartrac, EM Micro Partner on Healthcare Traceability
SUKU, which offers a blockchain-based supply chain traceability solution, in partnership with materials science company  Avery Dennison Smartrac and semiconductor firm  EM Microelectronic, has announced the release of a shared end-to-end supply chain transparency solution for healthcare and pharmaceutical products.

Avery Dennison Smartrac's RAINFC Belt DF tags, based on EM Micro's em|echo-V IC, allows for the tracing of products through the application of long-range, dual-frequency transponders for the purposes of product identification and management, the company reports. This data can be logged in SUKU's blockchain-powered application and tag-management platform, known as OMNI, to enable users to verify a product's supply chain journey and authenticate its origins.

The traceability software allows drug and healthcare companies to give items a digital identity, which can be placed on the blockchain to prevent fraud. This provides a means of tracing products and ensuring their provenance. For patients, the company explains, the system improves safety by enabling tamper-proof evidence and product authentication, and patients can scan a tag to access instructions and connect to help lines.

"Everyday pharma and healthcare represents one of the fastest-growing markets across industry verticals," said Yonathan Lapchik, SUKU's CEO, in a prepared statement. "By providing visibility into data that historically has been segmented and only available to a handful of supply chain participants, this software enables pharma and healthcare companies to expand their reach to this under-utilized customer base. We are very excited about the combination of our blockchain-powered tracking and tracing capabilities with Avery Dennison's and EM Microelectronic's tagging and management system."

Bill Barr, Avery Dennison Smartrac's RFID product manager, added in the statement: "This solution enables brands to create a digital identity that survives beyond the supply chain into post-purchase applications. A single inlay containing a digital ID is now effective in both the RAIN (UHF) RFID B2B world and the B2C world, where NFC is ubiquitous. It is the bridge between what the company controls and what the consumer controls."

"Avery Dennison's best-in-class dual-frequency RAINFC labels powered by EM Microelectronic's em|echo-V is the ideal physical world data carrier to the SUKU OMNI blockchain-based traceability platform," said Paul Muller, EM Micro's RFID business-unit manager, in the prepared statement. "Combining RAIN RFID supply chain management functionalities with seamless NFC consumer engagement and Web Authentication, em|echo-V enables end-to-end product lifecycle management for patient-oriented applications."

The solution is intended for both small and large healthcare and pharmaceutical brands, SUKU notes, and includes 10,000 Belt DF tags pre-encoded using Avery Dennison Smartrac's digital-identity and tag-management platform, and designed to be redirected via SUKU's cloud services, along with EM Micro's Web Authentication RAINFC dual-frequency IC and 90-day access to the OMNI platform.

Telefónica Tech, Fibocom Wireless, Aitos.io Team Up for IoT-Blockchain Offerings
Telefónica Tech, a provider of cloud, cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT), big-data and blockchain solutions, has signed a collaboration partnership with  Fibocom Wireless, a supplier of wireless communication modules and solutions in the IoT sector, and  Aitos.io, a technology startup focused on the integrated innovation of IoT and blockchain technologies. The partnership, the companies report, will enable them to create joint solutions combining IoT and blockchain technologies.

This collaboration began with the creation of a proof-of-concept to integrate aitos.io's software, Telefónica's BoAT blockchain application framework SDK, Fibocom's 5G devices and Telefónica's TrustOS platform. The integration utilizes TrustOS's identity module, known as TrustID, which connects with blockchain technology and enables the device to directly interact with the blockchain ledger, thereby eliminating intermediaries.

As the companies explain, the Internet of Things links the physical and digital worlds, blockchain increases transparency and offers an efficient means of tracing and verifying information gathered by embedded sensors, and 5G enables IoT blockchain-backed solutions to record immutable evidence of what occurs around devices. This can be applied to such Industry 4.0 use cases as supply chain management and manufacturing processes monitoring, the partners indicate, as well as to prevent unauthorized tampering or unexpected updates.

"The convergence of two technologies such as IoT and blockchain plus 5G connectivity is inevitable," said Jose Luis Núñez, Telefónica Tech's head of blockchain, in a prepared statement. "As connected devices multiply, it is critical to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the information that devices exchange. Blockchain can play a relevant role to build trust in these ecosystems. This proof-of-concept is the first successful case where it is demonstrated that blockchain technology adds value and adds that extra layer of trust to operations."

Ronnie Cohen, Fibcom's senior VP of sales and business development, added in the statement: "We are glad and proud to collaborate with Telefónica and aitos.io on introducing this cutting-edge blockchain technology for the Internet of Things. This unique synergy with Fibocom's advanced 5G module, integrated with aitos.io BoAT SDK + TrustOS and implemented via Telefónica Tech's 5G networks, marks a new IoT era where securing the data is no longer a nice option to have—it is a must."

"We are proud to cooperate with Telefónica Tech and Fibocom to promote the concept of blockchain IoT module globally using our BoAT blockchain application framework embedded into Fibocom's 5G IoT Module to easily access Telefónica's TrustOS blockchain network and TrustID decentralized identity service," said Leo Lin, aitos.io's CEO, in the prepared statement. "This PoC builds upon the successes of integrating the Internet of Things with the lockchain to prove monetized value with data ownership, integrity and provenance."

AVSystem Connects LPWAN IoT Devices to Microsoft, Amazon Platforms
AVSystem, a provider of IoT device-management solutions, has announced the integration of its Coiote IoT Device Management (DM) service with both  Microsoft Azure IoT Hub and  Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Core via Lightweight M2M (LwM2M). The integrations enable the direct connection of resource-constrained IoT devices to the Azure and AWS cloud platforms for data-reading, telemetry and device-management operations, AVSystem reports, allowing for the creation of IoT services over low-power wide area network (LPWAN) within Azure the platforms.

"Seamless integration with leading cloud providers plays an increasingly important role in empowering digitized business models," said Slawomir Wolf, AVSystem's CEO, in a prepared statement. "By being the first platform to offer integration with both Azure IoT Hub and AWS IoT Core via the LwM2M standard in version 1.1, AVSystem is allowing companies to build their applications and services with an industry standard better suited for constrained devices than the MQTT or HTTP protocols."

Coiote is an IoT device-management platform that supports constrained IoT devices at scale. Used by industry leaders such as AT&T and Bell Canada, Coiote IoT DM is available for enterprises that need to manage a population of IoT devices. Secure device onboarding, device lifecycle management and firmware over-the-air updates are supported and natively integrated with Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Central and AWS IoT Core. The platform provides users with a low/no-code environment to speed up IoT solution deployments, according to the company.

LPWAN devices are ramping up in different sectors, AVSystem reports, utilizing LPWAN connectivity such as cellular IoT networks, NB-IoT or LTE Cat-M1, which are designed for battery-operated, resource-constrained devices. To reduce the cost of cellular IoT connectivity, AVSystem offers what it describes as a "scalable and efficient device-management service." Coiote IoT DM can manage off-the-shelf hardware and enable manufacturers to remotely issue FOTA upgrades to keep devices secure, add new features or address software bugs.

World Alliance for Efficient Solutions Recognizes Xidas IoT
Technology startup  Xidas IoT has announced that with the launch of its IoT energy-harvesting solutions, it has been recognized as one of a thousand solutions to be promoted by the  World Alliance for Efficient Solutions. The initiative, created by the  Solar Impulse Foundation, brings together companies in the clean technologies field to create synergies and speed­ up the implementation of solutions to address environmental challenges.

The Internet of Things connects billions of sensors to monitor and gather insights, the majority of which are wireless in order to increase the number of locations at which they can be deployed. With this volume of electronics in the environment, the company explains, battery replacement leads to a major disposal problem. Some batteries contain toxic metals, such as cadmium, mercury, lead and lithium, which become hazardous waste and pose threats to health and the environment if improperly discarded.

Through the World Alliance, the Solar Impulse Foundation is choosing a thousand solutions that can protect the environment in a profitable way, and is bringing them to decision makers to encourage them to adopt more ambitious environmental targets and energy policies. "After a three-month stringent evaluation cycle, reviewed by independent experts, we are proud to be selected and recognized by this prestigious group," said Paul Dhillon, Xidas's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Being a small part in the overall challenge to protect our environment is humbling."

Xidas offers vibration-based energy-harvesting generators which are designed to provide wireless sensors, particularly those that perform machine condition monitoring and predictive maintenance of industrial assets, with up to 10 years of lifetime by capturing energy from small vibrations in the environment and converting them to energy. The company says its energy harvesters will power the IoT more efficiently and sustainably by diminishing the need to replace and discard batteries every year or two.

UrsaLeo, Shiratech Collaborate on Predictive-Maintenance Products
UrsaLeo, a software firm that helps users visualize operational data in a photorealistic 3D representation of their facility or product, and  Shiratech, a provider of Industry 4.0-based condition-monitoring and predictive-maintenance technologies, have collaborated to offer 3D digital-twin, artificial intelligence, sensor and machine-learning technologies. The combination of the UrsaLeo platform with Shiratech's iCOMOX solution, integrated into legacy equipment, allows manufacturers to plan, predict and prevent performance issues, the companies report.

"For many manufacturers, replacing legacy equipment can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, and may not be necessary with machinery that already operates at a high performance level," said John Burton, UrsaLeo's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Many types of older assembly equipment can be IIoT-enabled quickly, easily and cost-effectively, which is why the collaboration with Shiratech is vital to help bring companies with older equipment into the world of Industry 4.0."

"The iCOMOX solution enables the precise monitoring of vibrations, magnetic-field, temperature, sound and current," added David Vactor, Shiratech's managing director, in the prepared statement. "Using advanced AI and machine learning technology on edge, this innovative solution provides real-time data about machine health, which is relayed directly to the cloud for analysis and real-time issue resolution."

RFID Firm Know Labs Secures New Financing
Know Labs, a provider of non-invasive medical diagnostics systems, has closed on $14.2 million of financing, largely led by existing investors and insiders. Know Labs' solutions use spectroscopy to direct electromagnetic energy through a substance or material to capture a unique molecular signature. According to the company, the financing supports continuing development and clinical testing on its platform technology with a focus on non-invasive blood glucose monitoring, as well as future FDA approval.

The company refers to its patented and patent-pending technology as Bio-RFID. The technology can be integrated into a variety of wearable, mobile or bench-top form factors, the firm reports, making it possible to conduct analyses that could previously be performed only by invasive, expensive and time-consuming lab-based tests. The first application of the Bio-RFID technology will be in a product marketed as a glucose monitor. The current financing provides sufficient capital so management can ensure product development stays on track, the company explains.

Know Labs says it hopes to be listed on a major stock exchange, either NASDAQ or the NYSE, as this would provide opportunities to attract institutional and retail investors, allowing it to broaden its investor base in the United States and internationally. It would also increase the company's visibility, enable an aggressive growth strategy, increase the liquidity of its common shares, raise its overall profile and enhance shareholder value.

USDA to Pursue Rulemaking on RFID Use in Animal Disease Traceability
The  U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), after reviewing 944 public comments in response to a July 2020 notice that proposed to approve radio frequency identification as the official ear tag for use in the interstate movement of cattle, has decided to use the rulemaking process for future action related to this proposal. According to APHIS, the original notice will not be finalized, and all current APHIS-approved methods of identification may be used as official identification until further notice (see  USDA APHIS Proceeds With RFID Deployment Timeline, U.S. States Further Livestock RFID Use Despite USDA Pause and  Why the Cattle Industry Shouldn't Have a Beef With RFID).

"Yesterday's announcement means that we will not finalize the ear tag proposal that was outlined in the 2020 notice, and instead will use the rulemaking process for further actions related to animal disease traceability," said Joelle R. Hayden, APHIS's public affairs specialist, in a prepared statement. "Until we begin the rulemaking process, there really are not any additional updates to report. APHIS continues to believe that RFID tags will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases and will, therefore, continue to encourage the use of RFID tags while rulemaking is pending."

The USDA defines an "official ear tag" as an identification tag approved by APHIS that bears an official ID number for individual animals. Under the current regulations, such tags may be used as official identification, and current options include visual-only metal and plastic tags, as well as RFID tags. The animal disease traceability (ADT) regulations for cattle apply only to sexually intact beef animals more than 18 months of age moving in interstate commerce; cattle used for exhibition, rodeo and recreational events; and dairy cattle.

The regulations permit brands and tattoos as acceptable identification if the shipping and receiving states agree, and group or lot identification when a group or lot identification number (GIN) may be used. APHIS will continue to share news and information about efforts related to ADT and the use of RFID tags, and there will be an opportunity for public comment during the rulemaking process.