RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

Zebra Technologies to acquire Fetch Robotics; STMicroelectronics intros platform for BLE sensor design; Identiv joins DoseID Consortium to develop healthcare RFID standards; Cloudleaf, 7PSolutions partner on supply chain asset tracking; SuperCom awarded electronic monitoring project in Finland.

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Presented here are recent news announcements regarding the following organizations: Zebra Technologies, Fetch Robotics, STMicroelectronics, Identiv, the DoseID Consortium, Cloudleaf, 7PSolutions and SuperCom.

Zebra Technologies to Acquire Fetch Robotics
Zebra Technologies has announced plans to acquire  Fetch Robotics, a provider of on-demand automation solutions. Fetch’s Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are used for picking products at fulfillment centers and distribution centers, material deliveries at manufacturing facilities and automated manual material movement at any facility, according to the company.

According to Zebra, Fetch offers integration with warehouse and manufacturing systems without the need for users to make changes to facilities or infrastructure. Workflow Builder, the firm’s drag-and-drop workflow-development studio, is intended to offer automation so customers and partners can quickly deploy material-handling workflows. The AMRs are designed to reduce the impact of labor shortages by improving throughput, efficiency and productivity, while working alongside employees in fulfillment, distribution and manufacturing environments.

“The acquisition of Fetch Robotics will accelerate our Enterprise Asset Intelligence vision and growth in intelligent industrial automation by embracing new modes of empowering workflows and helping our customers operate more efficiently in increasingly automated, data-powered environments,” said Anders Gustafsson, Zebra’s chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. “This move will also extend our ongoing commitment to optimize the supply chain from the point of production to the point of consumption. We are excited to welcome the Fetch team to the Zebra family.”

“The Fetch team is excited to join Zebra and accelerate the adoption of flexible automation through AMRs and our cloud-based robotics platform,” added Melonee Wise, Fetch’s CEO, in the prepared statement. “Together, we have the right team with the right technology to provide end-to-end solutions that solve real customer problems. By helping customers dynamically optimize and holistically orchestrate their fulfillment, distribution and manufacturing operations, together we help enable their ability to stay ahead of growing demand, minimize delivery times and address shrinking labor pools.”

During its early-rapid growth phase, Fetch’s gross-margin profile business has generated annualized run-rate sales of approximately $10 million, according to Zebra. “Our goal is to give robots and people the opportunity to do their very best work,” said Bill Burns, Zebra’s chief product and solutions officer, in the statement. “This acquisition is a continuation of what we expect to be a series of innovations that reflect our commitment to creating solutions that help our customers improve their operations through robotics.”

STMicroelectronics Intros Platform for BLE Sensor Design
STMicroelectronics has announced that WiSE Studio, its free integrated development environment (IDE) dedicated to the BlueNRG system-on-chip (SoC) product family, is intended for the design of smart, connected devices leveraging Bluetooth technologies. Featuring a customizable development environment with ready-to-build examples, the IDE is intended to help expert and inexperienced users jump-start their projects, according to the company.

With WiSE Studio, developers can build applications and prototypes utilizing the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.2 features available in the BlueNRG-LP SoC. This includes 2Mbps on-air for fast data transfer, long-range communication, multiple concurrent connections and mesh networking, with dynamic energy consumption at 18µA/MHz for a longer battery lifetime.

WiSE Studio’s working environment can be quickly installed, the company reports, and provides a workspace with the requisite drivers, libraries and sample code to build Internet of Things (IoT) nodes, as well as create solutions for industrial, smart-home, wearable and gaming applications involving BLE devices and MEMS sensors. The workspace supports BlueNRG evaluation kits, including ST’s six-axis inertial module (LSM6DSOX), with a machine-learning core, a finite state machine and digital functions, a pressure sensor (LPS22HB), or a digital microphone (MP34DT05-A).

According to ST, the examples and snippets included in the workspace are intended to help users launch projects, such as beaconing, multiple connections, long-range communication, connected sensors, serial port emulation over-the-air, security features, remote control and firmware-over-the-air update. Documentation and quick-start guides enable newcomers to design professional IoT solutions, the company reports, as well as evaluate new ideas.

WiSE Studio is targeted at developers of wireless solutions for IoT applications that use BLE connectivity for data transfer, the firm explains, such as from a machine-learning-enabled MEMS sensor, or for networking multiple sensor devices in a smart-building or home-automation system. It can be used for location services, including asset-tracking applications. Different network topologies can be chosen, either gateway-centered to exploit the multiple concurrent connection capabilities of BlueNRG-LP, or scalable across any distance and number of nodes.

The platform is based on Eclipse, an open-source C/C++ development environment, and provides a graphical workspace powered by the GNU Arm Toolchain that comprises the GCC compiler and GDB/OpenOCD programmer and debugger. The IDE is scalable, with extra Eclipse plug-ins that draw on the support of the Eclipse developer community. Plug-in software can be found online or installed directly from within the WiSE Studio environment.

Identiv Joins DoseID Consortium to Develop Healthcare RFID Standards
Identiv, a provider of digital security and identification solutions, has announced that it has joined the  DoseID Consortium in order to strengthen its focus on radio frequency identification applications in healthcare. The company plans to participate in the development of industry standards for RFID use. DoseID connects healthcare sector participants to promote RFID quality, performance and interoperability for tracking drug products and medical equipment.

The consortium’s members are focused on fostering industry-wide collaboration for RFID healthcare standards. Identiv’s RFID devices can be used in a range of applications, and the company offers healthcare-focused solutions providing secure authentication, anti-counterfeiting, transfer of patient information, temperature sensing, and patient monitoring and compliance. These solutions are currently available, the firm reports.

“Identiv’s new healthcare solutions are truly innovative,” said Manfred Mueller, Identiv’s COO, in a prepared statement. “For example, the recently launched uTrust Sense SyringeCheck is a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled smart injectable dose-monitoring solution ensuring patients take their medication properly. This enforces close compliance with required dosage protocols, and clinical studies can achieve compliance and trustworthy trial results.”

“Identiv’s membership in the DoseID Consortium reflects our vision of better patient safety and our commitment to optimizing the healthcare industry’s delivery of care with RFID,” Mueller added in the prepared statement. “We are excited to be working with DoseID to help revolutionize and standardize RFID technology within the healthcare industry infrastructure as we continue to build our leadership position in developing Internet of Things-connected devices.”

Cloudleaf, 7PSolutions Partner on Supply Chain Asset Tracking
Cloudleaf and  7PSolutions have announced a strategic supply chain asset-tracking partnership. Cloudleaf’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) digital intelligence platform leverages IoT and digital twin technologies, while 7PSolutions provides global real-time GPS monitoring and tracking solutions, including 24-7 monitoring, product integrity tracking, inventory management and cargo security with law-enforcement escalation. The two companies say the partnership will enable organizations to make real-time decisions based on actual events as raw materials, components and finished product move through global supply chains.

“7P is excited to partner with Cloudleaf,” said Jeff Clark, 7PSolutions’ founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. ”Our unique real-time GPS solutions, combined with Cloudleaf’s digital visibility platform, provide actionable data for our customers. Leveraging 7P’s 24-7 global monitoring and escalation for recovering sensitive commodities or dispatching of law enforcement creates a solution that helps ensure product integrity and protects our customers’ brands.”

“The combination of Cloudleaf’s data platform-based operations, analytics and visibility with 7P’s products portfolio brings greater risk assurance and flexibility to monitoring and reacting to supply chain excursions and uncertainty,” added Ken Carpenter, Cloudleaf’s head of partnerships, in the prepared statement. “Together, we shine a light on more supply chain blind spots than ever before, especially in security of assets.”

SuperCom Awarded Electronic Monitoring Project in Finland
SuperCom, a provider of secure solutions for the e-government, IoT and cybersecurity sectors, has announced that it has been awarded a $3.6 million project with the national government of Finland to deploy its PureSecurity Electronic Monitoring (EM) Suite. The company’s technologies and services will be deployed to help the nation improve its public-safety efficacy, reduce prison overcrowding and decrease recidivism.

SuperCom offers an RFID and mobile technology suite, along with complementary services for healthcare, homecare, security, safety, community public safety, law enforcement, electronic monitoring, livestock monitoring, and building and access automation. The project is set to cover all electronic monitoring offender programs throughout Finland and is expected to include at least 1,000 enrollees simultaneously for a duration of four years, with the potential for extensions.

The project will include the following PureSecurity offerings: prison inmate monitoring, GPS offender tracking, RF monitoring for house arrest, and officer and offender mobile solutions. This deployment will integrate traditional EM with inmate monitoring, providing continuous tracking of offenders while they are in prison or during short-term releases. The award was won through a formal bid process involving six companies.

Under the terms of the award, the contract is valued at US$3.6 million, though revenues recognized by SuperCom will depend on actual usage levels. The budget consists mainly of costs for leasing the EM system and equipment, in addition to recurring maintenance charges. SuperCom expects to deploy the initial order and start generating revenues shortly after project launch. The award will go through a standstill waiting period before contract signing is approved and the project is launched, the company reports.

“We are pleased to have received this award, scoring higher than any of the other five players in this competitive tender, including the incumbent and current EM provider for Finland,” said Ordan Trabelsi, SuperCom’s president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “This benchmark win signifies the third Nordic European country to select our electronic monitoring technology after Sweden and Denmark in the recent past… We believe our rapid expansion and growing brand recognition, in Europe as well as the U.S., is ideally positioning us to capitalize on the expanding pipeline of EM project opportunities around the world.”