RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Confidex intros IoT BLE beacon for industrial environments; STMicroelectronics offers multi-purpose NFC transceiver; RFiD Discovery, Althea partner on hospital tracking solutions; Senet integrates LoRaWAN network with SenRa IoT analytics platform; Loriot releases LoRaWAN network for IoT deployments; Altair unveils platform for AI, IoT, data analytics; Databac launches anti-microbial cards for hygienic identification.

Presented here are recent news announcements regarding the following organizations: Confidex, STMicroelectronics, RFiD Discovery, Althea, Senet, SenRa, Loriot, Altair and Databac.

Confidex Intros IoT BLE Beacon for Industrial Environments
Confidex, a provider of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, has released its Viking Tough Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon, which provides real-time intelligence regarding the conditions and status of assets and goods in places and under conditions for which typical BLE beacon devices tend to be insufficient. The battery-powered, industrial-grade beacon enables Industrial IoT use cases, the company reports, such as asset tracking, condition monitoring and other real-time location services (RTLS) applications, for such sectors as automotive, construction, oil and gas, and mining.

The Viking Tough leverages  Nordic Semiconductor's nRF52832 multiprotocol system-on-chip (SoC) to provide ultra-low power consumption and high radio sensitivity, the firm reports. The device's polyurethane enclosure makes it ruggedized and qualified for use in an operating temperature range of -40 to +85 degrees Celsius (-40 to +185 degrees Fahrenheit). This enables users to build demanding IIoT applications in harsh operating environments in which vibration and mechanical impact can impair traditional beacons. The product has already secured RF certifications in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Ukraine.

"Thanks to Confidex's engineering, and by leveraging Nordic's nRF52832 SoC, the Viking Tough's exceptional radio performance and optimized power consumption makes it a product that serves the industrial IoT market with reliable connectivity that will run for years without any need for maintenance," said Thomas Holmberg, Nordic Semiconductor's senior regional sales manager for Europe, in a prepared statement. The beacon offers a lifetime of up to seven years for typical asset-management applications, according to the company, and it features low power consumption and a battery capacity of 1,900 mAh.

With secure Near Field Communication (NFC) authentication for tamper-proof operation, the beacon cannot be hacked or maliciously configured by third-party apps or over BLE radio, Confidex reports, due to NFC authentication and unique beacon identity keys. The device is equipped with an accelerometer and a hall-effect sensor, and is supported by an ecosystem of technology providers including  Quuppa and  Wirepas. "The Viking Tough's extremely rugged design complements Quuppa's tag ecosystem offering," added Fabio Belloni, Quuppa's CCO and cofounder, in the statement, "and especially serves our customers in the industrial and mining RTLS segments."

The Viking Tough device transmits data to a user's smartphone or to a back-end system using BLE connectivity, sensor telemetry data and open-format advertising packets from Google Eddystone and Apple iBeacon. Identifying a beacon in a fixed position or linking it with a certain asset in the back-end system can be accomplished by reading the built-in NFC tag with a mobile phone or from a printed QR code on the label. Confidex offers customization and can provide personalized beacons.

STMicroelectronics Offers Multi-Purpose NFC Transceiver
STMicroelectronics has announced its ST25R3918 multi-purpose NFC transceiver, which supports passive peer-to-peer functionality and NFC card-emulation mode, as well as NFC reader operation. The device enables such use cases as accessory identification for applications including power tools and personal healthcare devices. Supporting NFC-A and NFC-F card emulation, the company explains, the unit can be used as an NFC-A/B (ISO 14443A/B) card reader up to high bit rates, and as an NFC-V (ISO 15693) reader up to 53 kbps, as well as an ISO 18092 passive initiator and target.

The unit's card-emulation mode allows support for the latest features available on mobile phones, the company reports. End customers can use their phones to interact with applications that utilize the ST25R3918, including using a simple tap to launch apps. Device programming and NDEF data transfers are permitted, and users can leverage stream and transparent modes of the analog front-end and framing system to implement other custom protocols in card-reader and card-emulation modes.

Combined with the reader mode, the ST25R3918 allows scanning for nearby tags, for such tasks as replaceable detection and parameter setting or reading an access card. Users can interact with the phone while collecting valuable data regarding customer behaviors and the accessories they use, adding additional information for product development. With high sensitivity and ST's Noise Suppression Receiver technology, the ST25R3918 can be operated with output power around 0.5W in noisy and harsh environments.

The unit includes a low-power card-detection mode to scan for the presence of a card by measuring the amplitude or phase of the antenna signal. A low-power RC oscillator and wake-up timer automatically reactivates it after a selected time period to check for a tag's presence. Additional features include support for Dynamic Power Output, which automatically controls the field strength to meet the required limits. The ST25R3918 is available now, priced at $1.80 in quantities of 1,000 units.

RFiD Discovery, Althea Partner on Hospital Tracking Solutions
RFiD Discovery, a U.K.-based provider of location-tracking solutions for healthcare, and  Althea, a supplier of integrated healthcare technology management systems, have teamed up to provide technologies to hospitals in the United Kingdom. Under the terms of the agreement, Althea will use RFiD Discovery's system, which tracks hundreds of thousands of assets at more than 100 hospitals to add value to their outsourced managed services and multivendor maintenance of medical equipment.

With this partnership, Althea will become a reseller of RFiD Discovery's offerings. By providing location tracking as a solution or as an added service to existing and new clients, the partners explain, Althea will enable healthcare companies to increase efficiency, improve device utilization and cut costs by reducing the need to purchase new devices. The company will advise hospitals regarding asset-tracking solutions for such medical devices as infusion pumps, monitors, beds and endoscopes. RFiD Discovery says the partnership will allow it to build a global network of reseller partners and bring its portfolio of tracking solutions to the healthcare industry and other sectors.

Althea is adopting passive tracking system for a large healthcare organization, to help it improve service provision and bring added value to clinical teams at several hospitals. Medical devices and other assets are fitted with an RFID tag that includes a unique ID number registered in a central database. The presence of tagged devices is detected by handheld or specially designed trolley readers, which forward the location information to the database. Clinical and engineering personnel can then access the system to locate devices quickly, thereby saving time and allowing them to focus on patient care and device maintenance.

"We are delighted to team up with Althea, who are an extremely well-respected leader in their field," said Arron Duddin, RFiD Discovery's head of global sales and business development, in a prepared statement. "Our goals of helping healthcare providers improve processes and ultimately create better patient outcomes are perfectly aligned, and we are excited about our first joint medical device tracking implementations which are already well underway."

"With this agreement, Althea are very pleased to be able to bring RFiD Discovery asset tagging and tracking technology to our wide range of customers," added Jason Long, Althea's business-development director for the United Kingdom and Ireland, in the statement. "Althea will help customers reach higher patient safety and compliance standards by ensuring all tagged medical devices are serviced and compliant to MHRA standards. By providing RFID as a service, Althea is helping customers overcome the initial capital outlay that can be a barrier to some organizations."

Loriot Releases LoRaWAN Network for IoT Deployments
Loriot, a Swiss IoT company, has announced that the latest release of its network server has been deployed across all servers of the country's global public infrastructure. The firm has also extended the limits associated with free community accounts. Loriot's Osprey LoRaWAN Network Server has been deployed globally across 13 community public servers, as well as four professional public servers, and it will soon be rolled out to the company's private network server clients.

Loriot is both a software provider and network operator, and it offers the network infrastructure required to set up, operate and maintain a radio network, as well as integrate sensors and communicate with them over a secure and reliable connection. Version 7.0 of Loriot LNS introduces features and performance upgrades on the back and front ends of the server infrastructure. This includes passive roaming support, improved back-end scalability and microservices communication, and analytics and usability refinements, the company explains, as well as new output integrations with such IoT platforms as ThingsHub and Cumulocity.

"We are extremely proud of this latest version of our solution, as it is the most ambitious upgrade to date," said Gianni Zizzi, Loriot's CTO, in a prepared statement. "The completely re-engineered architecture guarantees high network server performance even under the circumstances of massive IoT deployments and paves the way for future developments of our solution. The intensive stress tests we have carried out have clearly shown the robustness and reliability of a product that already enjoys an excellent reputation in the market." With the new version, the company reports, it will now be possible to connect unlimited gateways and up to 30 sensor devices for free.

"Version 7 of our solution is the beginning of a new story of scalability and massive IoT, and this story deserves a memorable name," added Julian Studer, Loriot's founder and CEO, in the statement. "Loriot Network Server Osprey is here, and we want to celebrate it together with our global community. We do so with a new public server in Israel, that has now opened up to the LoRaWAN standard. Plus, at the same time, by increasing the connectivity limits included with the free account now enough for larger research projects, PoCs and to evaluate the performance of our solution."

Senet Integrates LoRaWAN Network with SenRa IoT Analytics Platform
Senet, a provider of cloud-based software and services platforms designed to enable global connectivity and on-demand network build-outs for the Internet of Things, has announced a collaboration with  SenRa, a PAN India LoRaWAN public network operator. Senet will integrate its network with SenRa's Ginjer IoT Analytics platform, streamlining user access to carrier-grade LoRaWAN connectivity and real-time application performance data. The Ginjer IoT Analytics platform is a managed solution that lets users manage IoT data and devices at scale.

With Ginjer, the companies explain, organizations can gain insight into business operations, accelerate business decision making and reduce development times. It includes reporting tools, real-time data visualization of sensors, device management capabilities and user access management. Through a pre-built connector, platform users can deploy IoT applications on Senet's network and access the largest public carrier-grade LoRaWAN network in the United States. This integration builds on an existing partnership, by which SenRa chose Senet's cloud-based Managed Network Services for IoT to support its LoRaWAN network rollout throughout India.

"Senet's network management system delivers an unparalleled ability to plan, deploy, scale and manage LoRaWAN networks," said Ali Hosseini, SenRa's CEO, in a prepared statement. "For example, our first deployment using Senet's managed network services took less than 90 days from start to finish, a feat that typically takes 18 months to two years. By expanding our integration with Senet, Ginjer IoT Analytics platform users now have the opportunity to easily deploy IoT applications on Senet's network, benefiting from their dominant presence in the U.S. and global growth."

"Senet and SenRa share a vision of delivering innovative Internet of Things technologies and solutions to enhance and redefine everyday experiences for businesses, cities and citizens across the globe," added Bruce Chatterley, Senet's CEO, in the statement. "We're excited to announce our integration with SenRa's Ginjer IoT Analytics Platform to extend its high-value, low-cost approach to providing the tools necessary to gain real-time insight into the status of connected devices and the overall business impact of IoT projects.

Altair Unveils Platform for AI, IoT, Data Analytics
Altair, which provides solutions for simulation, high-performance computing and artificial intelligence, has released its SmartWorks cloud-native platform, designed to empower augmented, data-driven decision making. According to the company, SmartWorks harnesses AI, data analytics and the Internet of Things to help organizations ensure production quality, develop connected product lines, optimize maintenance schedules, implement recurring revenue models, customize marketing analytics and automate financial systems.

"SmartWorks will disrupt the way businesses innovate and make decisions by making it easy to leverage AI and IoT in automation and analytics," said James R. Scapa, Altair's founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. "For organizations strategizing their digital transformation efforts, SmartWorks is a future-proof accelerator and launchpad. It will help companies accelerate, innovate, and deliver." Organizations can collaborate, generate and share data-driven insights, as well as develop AI-augmented analytics and create scalable, secure IoT and analytics applications, faster and with smaller teams.

SmartWorks is built to overcome enterprise-grade challenges, the company explains. It is cloud-native but can be deployed on premises. The system enables organizations to govern access to data, analytics and automation. SmartWorks provides a collaborative environment and is extensible and designed to work with various analytics engines. The solution provides organizations with data analytics capabilities by integrating Altair Monarch and Altair Knowledge Studio with cloud-native and targeted capabilities.

Capabilities include connecting to diverse databases, data sources, spreadsheets, big data and the IoT; storing data in performant, specialized databases; exploring data trends and spotting anomalies; transforming data to fit specific applications; training and evaluating AI models; operationalizing machine learning models at scale, ranging from resource-constrained edge to cloud-based environments; developing custom analytics or end-user applications; augmenting processes with automation, either in the cloud or at the edge; and controlling end-user access to information.

Databac Launches Anti-microbial Cards for Hygienic Identification
Databac, an ID solutions provider and card manufacturer, has launched a range of anti-microbial identification products. These include ID cards, card-wearing accessories and wristbands, which are treated with an additive to help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Though designed for healthcare centers, these products can be used in any busy environment with a high throughput of people, the company reports.

"Identification is our core business. As experts in this field, it is our responsibility to find solutions to the challenges faced by businesses in the current climate and beyond. 'Hygienic identification' is a trend that will outlast the pandemic, setting new norms in health and safety," said Charles Balcomb, Databac's CEO, in a prepared statement. "ID cards are handled numerous times a day. Just think how often you hold a card up to a reader or pick up a lanyard to wear around your neck. Any business or institution serious about keeping staff and visitors safe will be interested in our new range, which provides anti-microbial protection for all popular credentials and wearing accessories."

The products include anti-microbial ID and access cards, which can be made with RFID and other technologies; anti-microbial lanyards in cotton, bamboo, PET, rPET and corn; anti-microbial card holders, both rigid open-fronted and clear enclosed formats; anti-microbial wallets for use with visitor passes; and anti-microbial wristbands for hospitals, events and sports centers. An anti-microbial lamination film is available to protect printed documents handled by different people, such as menus or book covers.

Databac's anti-microbial products offer protection through silver ion technology, the company reports, to inhibit the growth and replication of germs, bacteria, fungi and mold. The additive used reduces bacterial activity by more than 99 percent, making the products effective against bacteria and some viruses, including Staphylococcus and influenza A.