Industry Players Form Consortium Focused on UWB Interoperability

The ASSA ABLOY Group (which includes HID Global), NXP Semiconductors, Samsung Electronics and Bosch have announced the launch of the FiRa Consortium. The new coalition is designed to grow the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) ecosystem so new use cases for fine ranging capabilities can thrive, ultimately setting a new standard in seamless user experiences. Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc., LitePoint and the Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) are the first companies to join the newly-formed organization.

The FiRa name, which stands for “Fine Ranging,” highlights UWB technology’s unique ability to deliver unprecedented accuracy when measuring the distance or determining the relative position of a target.  Especially in challenging environments, UWB technology outperforms other technologies in terms of accuracy, power consumption, robustness in RF connection and security, by a wide margin.

The starting point for UWB technology is the IEEE standard 802.15.4/4z, which defines the essential characteristics for low-data-rate wireless connectivity and enhanced ranging. It is the aim of the FiRa Consortium to build on what the IEEE has already established, by developing an interoperability standard based on the IEEE’s profiled features, defining mechanisms that are out of scope of the IEEE standard, and pursuing activities that support rapid development of specific use cases.

The capabilities of UWB promise to make it an essential technology in many areas including:

  • Seamless Access Control – UWB can identify an individual’s approach toward or away from a secured entrance, verify security credentials, and let the authorized individual pass through the entrance without physically presenting the credential.
  • Location-Based Services – UWB offers highly precise positioning, even in congested multipath signal environments, making it easier to navigate large venues such as airports and shopping malls or find a car in a multi-story parking garage. It also enables targeted digital marketing campaigns and foot traffic data. Retailers can present customized offers, government agencies can tailor their notifications, and entertainment venues can personalize recommendations during events.
  • Device-to-Device (Peer-to-Peer) Services – By providing precise relative distance and direction between two devices, UWB lets devices find the relative location of each other even without infrastructures such as anchors or access points. This allows people to easily find one another in crowded spaces or find items even when placed in hidden areas.

Due to its low power spectral density, UWB offers little to no interference with other wireless standards, so it is well suited for use with other wireless technologies, including Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. There are also adjacent markets that leverage UWB in other ways, especially automotive.

FiRa Consortium | www.firaconsortium.org
NXP Semiconductors | www.nxp.com

 

Arm-Based Industrial Panel PC is Designed for IoT Applications

Advantech has announced the TPC-71W, the new generation of its industrial panel PCs aimed at machine automation and web-terminal applications. TPC-71W is a cost-efficient, Arm-based industrial panel PC that features a 7” true-flat display with P-CAP multi-touch control and an NXP Arm Cortex-A9 i.MX 6 dual/quad-core processor to deliver high-performance computing. The system also features a serial port with a termination resistor that supports the CAN 2.0B protocol and offers a programmable bit rate of up to 1 Mb/s.

Equipped with the Google Chromium embedded web browser and support for various operating systems, including Android, Linux Yocto and Linux Ubuntu with QT GUI toolkits, TPC-71W allows system integrators to easily develop and deploy a wide range of industrial applications. The provision of wireless communication technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC, via a mini PCIe interface simplifies networking and ensures connectivity for data transfers.

TPC-71W also features Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality for powering devices via Ethernet, thereby eliminating the need to build a power infrastructure. Furthermore, the TPC-71W panel PC supports VESA and panel mounting for flexible and convenient installation. Compared to other similar products, TPC-71W is one of the most competitively priced rugged industrial panel PCs currently available on the market. Overall, this powerful, reliable, and cost-effective computing platform provides the ideal solution for IoT implementation and expansion.

Aimed at the industrial market, TPC-71W is a rugged yet compact, fanless panel PC equipped with an NXP® Arm® Cortex-A9 i.MX 6 dual/quad-core processor, 2 GB DDR3L RAM, and 8 GB eMMC storage to provide high-performance computing and improved efficiency for high-tier industrial applications. The 7” true-flat display with 16:9 aspect ratio features P-CAP multi-touch control for easy and intuitive operation. Moreover, to ensure reliable operation in harsh industrial environments, TPC-71W supports a wide operating temperature range (-20 ~ 60 °C/-4 ~ 140 °F) and is IP66 rated for protection from dust, oil, and water ingress.

TPC-71W supports various OS, including Android 6, Linux Yocto 2.1, and Linux Ubuntu 16.04 with QT GUI toolkits. Linux is an open-source OS specifically designed to assist system integrators with developing unique applications. The ability to support both Android and Linux eliminates software porting efforts and ensures easy deployment. Moreover, TPC-71W features the Google Chromium embedded web browser that simplifies programming and further facilitates application development.

To ensure connectivity for web-based management, TPC-71W offers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC wireless communication capabilities via a mini PCIe interface. The inclusion of a serial port that supports industrial communication interfaces, such as RS-232/485 and the CAN 2.0B protocol, and a LAN port that supports speeds of up to 1000 Mbps (10/100/1000 Mbps) accelerates data transfer rates, while also enabling Wake-on-LAN functions. Furthermore, the TPC-71W panel PC can be equipped with optional PoE functionality for powering devices via Ethernet; this greatly streamlines installations and reduces overall equipment costs.

Key Features:

  • 7” WSVGA LCD with 16:9 aspect ratio and P-CAP multi-touch control
  • NXP Arm Cortex®[C1] -A9 i.MX 6 dual/quad-core processor
  • Up to 2 GB DDR3L RAM and 8 GB of eMMC storage onboard
  • 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN Optional PoE functionality for powering devices via Ethernet
  • Supports Linux Yocto, Linux Ubuntu, and Android OS

Advantech’s TPC-71W 7” industrial panel PC is available for order now.

Advantech | www.advantech.com

 

Wireless Standards and Solutions for IoT

Protocol Choices Abound

One of the critical enabling technologies making the Internet-of-Things possible is the set of well-established wireless standards that allow movement of data to and from low-power edge devices. These standards are being implemented in a variety of chip- and module-based solutions.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Connecting the various nodes of an IoT implementation can involve a number of wired and wireless network technologies. It’s rare that an IoT system can be completely hardwired end to end. That means most IoT systems of any large scale depend on a variety of wireless technologies including everything from device-level technologies to Wi-Fi to cellular networking.

IoT system developers have a rich set of wireless standards to choose from. And these can be implemented from the gateway and the device side using a variety of wireless IoT solutions in both module and chip form. Some of these are available from the leading microcontroller vendors, but a growing number are IoT-specialist chip and module vendors. Many of today’s solutions combine multiple protocols on the same device, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE (BLE) for example. We’ll look at each of the major wireless standards appropriate to IoT, along with representative interface solutions for each.

LoRaWAN

Managed by the LoRa Alliance, the LoRaWAN specification is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery operated ‘things’ to the internet in regional, national or global networks. It meets key IoT requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility and localization services.

The networking architecture of LoRaWAN is deployed in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways relay messages between end devices and a central network server. Gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections and act as a transparent bridge, simply converting RF packets to IP packets and vice versa. The wireless communication takes advantage of the Long Range characteristics of the LoRa physical layer, allowing a single-hop link between the end-device and one or many gateways. All modes are capable of bi-directional communication, and support is included for multicast addressing groups to make efficient use of spectrum during tasks such as Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) upgrades or other mass distribution messages.

In a recent LoRaWAN product example, Cypress Semiconductor in June announced its teaming up with Semtech on a compact, two-chip LoRaWAN-based module deployed by Onethinx. The highly-integrated Onethinx module is well-suited for smart city applications that integrate multiple sensors and are in harsh radio environments (Figure 1). Using Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCU hardware-based Secure Element functionality and Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology), the solution enables a multi-layer security architecture that isolates trust anchors for highly protected device-to-cloud connectivity. In addition, the PSoC 6 MCU’s integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity provides a simple, low-power, out-of-band control channel. Cypress claims the PSoC 6 device as the industry’s lowest power, most flexible Arm Cortex-M dual-core MCU with a power slope as low as 22-μA/MHz active power for the Cortex-M4 core. The device works well with Semtech’s latest LoRa radio chip family, which offers 50% power savings in receive mode and 20% longer range over previous-generation devices.

Figure 1
Using Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCU hardware-based Secure Element functionality and Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology), the Onethinx module enables a multi-layer security architecture that isolates trust anchors for highly protected device-to-cloud connectivity.

The Onethinx module uses the integrated Secure Element functionality in the PSoC 6 MCU to give each LoRaWAN-based device a secret identity to securely boot and deliver data to the cloud application. Using its mutual authentication capabilities, the PSoC 6 MCU-based, LoRa-equipped device can also receive authenticated over-the-air firmware updates. Key provisioning and management services are provided by IoT security provider and member of the Bosch group, ESCRYPT, for a complete end-to-end, secure LoRaWAN solution. The module, offered by Cypress partner Onethinx, connects to Bosch Sensortec’s Cross Domain Development Kit (XDK) for Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors and to the provisioning system from ESCRYPT to securely connect.

Wi-Fi (802.11)

In systems where power is less of a constraint, the ubiquitous standard
Wi-Fi 802.11 is also a good method of IoT connectivity—whether leveraging off of existing Wi-Fi infrastructures or just using Wi-Fi hubs and routers in a purposed-built network implementation. As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi is often available integrated with other wireless protocols such as Bluetooth. …

Read the full article in the July 336 issue of Circuit Cellar

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Ultra-Compact Bluetooth 4.2 + NFC Module

Rigado’s new BMD-350 Bluetooth 4.2 + NFC module is intended for use in Internet of Things (IoT) applications. With  8.6 × 6.4 × 1.5 mm footprint and based on the Nordic Semiconductors nRF52 series SoC, the BMD-350 gives IoT innovators a “plug-and-play” connectivity solution perfectly suited for high-performance, low-power wearables and portable devices. The Nordic Semiconductors nRF52 series brings on-chip NFC capability for new modes in IoT pairing. Both the BMD-350 and the BMD-350 evaluation kit are now available.

Source: Rigado

Contactless Security Chip Powers First NFC Payment Ring

NFCRing’s new EMVCo-compliant, wearable payment ring features a Infineon Technologies contactless security chip. Operating like a contactless payment card, the ring enables users to pay for products via an EMVCo contactless-enabled payment terminal. The EMVCo’s member organizations include American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay, and Visa.NFC Payment Ring

The Infineon SLE 77CLFX2407P contactless security cryptocontroller chip enabled the ring’s designers to develop a  wearable that doesn’t have a battery. The chip acquires the energy it needs from the electromagnetic field.

The chip’s features and specs:

  • Powerful 16-bit core
  • 90-nm Technology
  • SOLID FLASH
  • Common criteria EAL 5+(high)
  • EMVCo certified

 

 

The ring is available for $52.

Sourece: NFCRing, Inc.

Embedded Couplers for New Close Proximity Wireless Transfer Technology

Antenova M2M is now shipping its first orders for the TransferJet coupler, Zoma (SR4T014). In addition, it is working with Icoteq to build TransferJet designs for customers worldwide.Antenova SR4T014

 

Intended to transfer multimedia data (e.g., photos to a TV screen), TransferJet is a close-proximity wireless transfer technology that radiates very low-power radio waves. It combines the speed of ultra-wide band networking with near-field communications (NFC) and operates over short ranges. TransferJet uses a coupler as opposed to an antenna.

Antenova is working with Icoteq, which developed a sensor board for high-speed data upload using TransferJet. The 50 mm × 40 mm board feature an Atmel SAMS70/SAMV70 microprocessor and Antenova’s TransferJet coupler.

Source: Antenova

Compact NFC Security Module for Smart Wearables

Infineon Technologies is collaborating with Beijing-based Mobile Payment Solutions Co. Ltd. (MPS) on a new plug-and-play NFC security module. The smallest module in the series measures only 4 mm × 4 mm, making it a good fit for wearable electronics.Infineon_NFC

The MPS Boosted NFC security module series is well suited for wearable applications. At the core of the module is Infineon’s Boosted NFC Secure Element, which eliminates the need for the separate NFC controller that’s typically required with conventional solutions to utilize card emulation functionality in a device. The NFC antenna and antenna-matching components are included in the package, which reduces the PCB footprint by more than 75% percent (when you are using the smallest module of the series).

Running on a standard Java security card operating system, the Boosted NFC security module allows for the flexible loading of multiple Java-based applications (applets) on smart devices. While the Boosted NFC security module is an excellent option for new product designs, you could easily integrate it into existing designs to extend functionality to include secure payment.

The NFC security module’s main component is Infineon’s SLE78 security chip, which combines highest security performance with a storage capacity of more than 1 MB. This provides sufficient memory to securely store user credentials and run multiple applications, enabling a single device to replace a variety of cards (e.g., payment cards and public transportation tickets).

Source: Infineon Technologies

Embedded Chip = Subdermal Chip?

Forget stashing your cash under your mattress. Now you can stash it under your skin. Sort of.

The Telegraph reported Tuesday that Martijn Wismeijer, a Dutch innovator, recently implanted a 12-mm xNTi NFC chip in his body to store Bitcoin. The small glass chip stores 888 bytes and comes with a syringe for installation.

According the Dangerous Things site, the kit includes:

  • Glass chip preloaded in EO gas sterilized injector
  • A skin antiseptic
  • Gauze pads, a bandage, and non-latex surgical gloves

 

Source: Telegraph