RFID News Roundup

By Rich Handley

A2B Tracking earns Zebra Technologies validation for TC51 Touch Computer ••• RFID-IoT startup Smart Technology Group places in top ten at MassChallenge competition ••• STMicroelectronics launches course on IoT-enabled embedded systems ••• Teracom intros IoT temperature and humidity data loggers ••• Cisco invests in smart-city solutions for integration of autonomous vehicles ••• Impinj announces Q4 2017 revenue, reduced outlook for Q1 2018.

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The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations:
A2B Tracking, Zebra Technologies;
Smart Technology Group;
STMicroelectronics;
Teracom Ltd.;
Cisco; and
Impinj.

A2B Tracking Earns Zebra Technologies Validation for TC51 Touch Computer

A2B Tracking has announced that it has completed Zebra TechnologiesPartnerConnect software validation program.

Zebra’s solution lab certified A2B Tracking’s cloud-based software against a battery of tests to ensure that the software operates seamlessly for bar-code and RFID asset tracking with Zebra’s RFD 8500 reader, coupled with the company’s TC51 Touch Computer. Working closely with Zebra’s engineering teams, A2B Tracking has been awarded validation that the software meets user application-specific needs, reducing both the risk and deployment time for the user.

A2B Tracking software operates using a browser on the TC51 Touch Computer, which connects via Bluetooth to the RFD 8500 to manage critical asset-tracking features, such as locating assets, checking in and out, performing cycle counts and more. A2B Tracking’s proprietary Pro-Locate feature leverages RFID and a smartphone or TC51 Touch Computer to search entire facilities to find a specific asset.

“Our software has been optimized to perform mobile RFID asset tracking while being backward-compatible with 1D/2D bar-code asset tracking using touch computers connected to the cloud,” said Peter Collins, A2B Tracking’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “We’re proud to have achieved the Zebra Validated designation with Zebra’s innovative TC51 touch computer. The combination of the Zebra RFD 8500 with the TC51 Touch Computer now enables powerful mobile RFID tracking to provide increased functionality and mobility for any organization.”

RFID-IoT Startup Smart Technology Group Places in Top Ten at MassChallenge Competition

Polish company Smart Technology Group, which offers readers combining radio frequency identification (RFID) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, has been named among the top ten startups in Central and Eastern Europe by jurors in the Bridge to MassChallenge competition. More than 300 startups from those regions applied to participate. Each presented their ideas and tried to convince the jury that they could change the world. Following a series of pitch talks and presentations, nine winners were announced.

Smart Technology Group, led by Karolina Kozlowska (the company’s CEO) and Monika Bandura (the firm’s COO), was among them for its SMART RFID system. The choice was made by representatives of MassChallenge and investors. The Polish company was selected twice, as a second group of 150 experts, including CEOs from global companies, chose Smart Technology Group as the most promising startup.

According to Smart Technology Group, it was the only winning businesses to use RFID technology. “I am extremely pleased that our effort was acknowledged by such a professional jury” Kozlowska said in a prepared statement. “It is also solid proof that SMART RFID is a truly innovative concept that solves the problem of detection and identification. SMART RFID makes it faultless, faster, cheaper and precise. And it is possible as SMART RFID uses all key IoT technologies at the same time in one device.”

The jury concluded that SMART RFID meets the basic needs of many markets, such as health, industry, retail, logistics and tourism. In these areas, identification and detection are crucial for providing safety, efficiency, profitability and comfort. “I think it was also important that we have shown that SMART RFID had been positively verified by many companies in different regions of the world,” Bandura said in the prepared statement, “as well as in different sectors of the marked. Thus, we were reliable.”

Bridge to MassChallenge was organized by “the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet,” the organization reports. Alumni have raised more than $2 billion in funding, generated approximately $900 million in revenue and created more than 65,000 total jobs. Smart Technology Group was also in the top three in the Start Jerusalem Competition and in the top ten on Polish Tech Night.

“For sure, we feel that SMART RFID is getting more and more attention,” Kozlowska said in the prepared statement. “Only in January, we have already signed contracts which value for approximately 60 percent of our total sale in 2017. And keeping in mind that we launch serious transnational campaign and we will be attending key trade shows and fairs, I am sure that SMART RFID answers needs which could not be fulfilled up to now.”

STMicroelectronics Launches Course on IoT-Enabled Embedded Systems

STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor company serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, has announced the availability of its “Introduction to Embedded Systems with SensorTile” course. The course is open to all, including students, makers, budding engineers and computer scientists.

With a curriculum developed by Professor William Kaiser at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and used to teach his freshman engineering class, the online course resources provide a foundation to understand the fundamentals of a sensor-based Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled embedded system. Professors at other universities are also encouraged to adapt and contribute to the course.

The introductory course of eight self-paced tutorials is designed around ST’s SensorTile, a real-time IoT-enabled embedded system on a postage-stamp-sized module. The module, measuring 13.5 millimeters by 13.5 millimeters (0.5 inch by 0.5 inch), combines a high-performance, low-power STM32 Arm Cortex-M core microcontroller, five micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) sensors—an inertial sensor containing an accelerometer, a gyroscope, an e-compass, a pressure sensor and a microphone—and a Bluetooth network processor. A kit containing the module, cables, cradles and a battery is available from resellers for approximately $80.

“The joint effort with ST to make the eight tutorials freely available online, with a full complement of documentation, open-source algorithms and development solutions, and unfettered access to a growing user forum is a terrific way to ensure the sustainability of a community that we hope will expand to include community colleges, other universities, and even high-school programs and self-starters,” Kaiser said in a prepared statement. “In fact, while we’ve made the tutorials simple, yet powerful, we know newcomers will find an obstacle somewhere, and we’re counting on the passion of users in the community to help them overcome those inevitable roadblocks.”

Those interested in learning more about the tutorial or purchasing a SensorTile kit can visit the company’s website. Additional information is available at ST’s blog.

Teracom Intros IoT Temperature and Humidity Data Loggers

Teracom Ltd. has announced the availability of its TCW210-TH data loggers for remote temperature and humidity monitoring applications. Each TCW210-TH can monitor up to eight temperature and/or temperature-humidity sensors of various brands and types (up to 24 different parameters each). For example, four sensors can connect via MODBUS, while another can simultaneously connect via 1-Wire.

“Our new TCW210-TH data logger device has a very intuitive setup process and is so easy to configure that most customers will never need to open up the manual,” said Ognyan Dimitrov, Teracom’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “The humidity and temperature records can be monitored on the Web interface of the device. There is no need for special software and conversions—you only need a standard Web browser like Chrome, IE or Firefox.”

Utilizing an Ethernet interface for Web and network connectivity, the device monitors real-time data for temperature, humidity and dew point, and records all monitored parameters using internal Flash memory. The records can be made on set time intervals or alarm conditions. The capacity of memory allows at least 36 days logged, with data recorded once every minute, the company reports; the log file can be periodically uploaded on a dedicated server via HTTP Post.

The device is supported by Android and iOS applications, as well as by Teracom’s TC Monitor remote and monitoring software, which provides a free license for up to 10 items. The logger utilizes a circular buffer in Flash memory (up to 70,000 records). When it is full, the latest data overwrites the oldest. In this manner, Flash memory can store a full log all the time.

For security reasons, there is not a command to clear the log. A copy of the full log is always available for download. The TCW210-TH can initiate a connection via HTTP Post to remote dedicated servers. The payload of this post are XML or JSON files. Standard protocols, such as SNMP, MODBUS TCP/IP and HTTP API, are also available for machine-to-machine applications. Additionally, the TCW210-TH supports communication with ThingSpeak servers. Four different parameters (channels) can be processed simultaneously.

Cisco Invests in Smart-City Solutions for Integration of Autonomous Vehicles

Cisco has recently invested $1 million in smart-city technology for the City of Adelaide to help reduce traffic congestion and create the foundation for the deployment of autonomous vehicles on busy roads. The pilot, carried out in partnership with the Government of South Australia and the City of Adelaide, measured the dwell times and queue lengths of vehicles as they waited at an intersection—a key element for congestion monitoring. It also calculated rolling averages across the day via a customized dashboard and a suite of metrics that showed how well the traffic light sequences operated at that intersection.

Built on Cisco Kinetic for Cities, an Internet of Things (IoT) operations platform designed to harness data from billions of connected devices, the pilot was split into two phases. During the first phase, six sensors were set up at the busy intersection of Grenfell and Pulteney. These sensors gathered intersection-approach traffic information, such as the location and speed of vehicles, as well as pedestrians. With this information, tailored algorithms to recommend traffic light intervals can be recommended to improve traffic and pedestrian-crossing flow.

The second phase involved an assessment of whether the same infrastructure could be applied to quickly and accurately determine the locations and movements of autonomous vehicles, which is critical to being able to manage, direct and control such vehicles. The pilot lasted a week, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2018. Following the successful trial, other intersections in Adelaide will be selected to potentially test and scale the solution city-wide, followed by a national rollout.

“Traffic congestion in Australia’s cities is getting worse,” said Kevin Bloch, the chief technology officer of Cisco Australia & New Zealand, in a prepared statement, “and we need to act now before autonomous vehicles join our already busy roads. We’re very excited to partner with the City of Adelaide and the SA Government and analyze the results of this pilot. We believe this technology could have a real impact on drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in Adelaide, and other cities, because its traffic light network will be able to make real-time decisions.”

“We are pleased that Cisco has chosen Adelaide to develop and trial its smart city technology,” said Science and Information Economy Minister Kyam Maher in the prepared statement. “It’s a vote of confidence in our growing innovation ecosystem and boosts our reputation as a global leader in adopting smart technologies and smart solutions. The South Australian Government remains focused on establishing Adelaide as a dynamic and liveable smart city underpinned by robust innovation initiatives, digital infrastructure and support programs to help local business and entrepreneurs thrive.”

Impinj Announces Q4 2017 Revenue, Reduced Outlook for Q1 2018

Impinj, a provider of RAIN RFID solutions for identifying, locating and authenticating everyday items, has announced its preliminary estimate for fourth-quarter 2017 revenue, as well as an anticipated decline in revenue for the first quarter of 2018. The company expects its fourth-quarter 2017 revenue to be between $29.0 and $30.0 million, above its prior guidance of $28.25 to $29.75 million, and plans to report detailed financial results during a conference call on Feb. 15, 2018.

“We delivered fourth-quarter revenue consistent with our prior guidance, including strong unit-volume growth in our fixed-reader business,” said Chris Diorio, Impinj’s co-founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. “Our prospects for continued growth in fixed-reader deployments remain strong.”

“Turning to first-quarter 2018, our shortened endpoint IC lead times have contributed to a reduction in our endpoint IC order backlog as well as ongoing reductions in inlay-partner inventory,” Diorio said in the prepared statement. “Consequently, despite continued growth in endpoint IC consumption and in the number of deployments by end users, we currently anticipate softness in our endpoint IC volumes and first quarter revenue of $20 to $22 million.”

“We anticipate additional growth in our own inventory in first quarter 2018 to coincide with our endpoint IC volume softness,” Diorio continued. “We remain confident that our inventory does not have material obsolescence risk. We also have adequate endpoint IC supply in a year of global semiconductor wafer tightness. Our cash position remains strong even as we balance short-term expenses with a reduced short-term revenue outlook. Identifying, locating and authenticating every item in our everyday world, and connecting every one of those items to the cloud, is the vision our ever-growing base of dedicated partners and end customers look to us to deliver.”

Impinj will host a conference call and webcast on Feb. 15, 2018 at 5:00 PM for analysts and investors to discuss the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results, as well as its outlook for the first quarter of 2018.