RFID Journal: Identiv Offers NFC and BLE Tags with Sensor Data

Original article by Claire Swedberg syndicated via RFID Journal.

The company has partnered with Wiliot to offer a BLE-based conditions-monitoring tag the size of a credit card, while other recent products include a fill-level sensor tag for NFC-based data.

Internet of Things (IoT) technology company Identiv has released a series of specialty products intended to bring new levels of intelligence, performance, engagement and quality to Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The company displayed its NFC senor tags at the recent RFID Journal LIVE! conference, while its NFC-enabled Capacitive Fill Level Sensing Tag was named a runner-up for Best New Product in this year’s RFID Journal Awards

Identiv, which was also an awards runner-up for Best Healthcare Implementation, recently announced a full solution in partnership with Wiliot, known as the Battery-Assisted Pixel Cold-Chain Solution. The company has been growing exponentially during the past year, according to Amir Khoshniyati, the VP and general manager of Identiv’s transponder business. Its tags and solutions are being used in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, smart packaging, specialty retail, and oil and gas markets, and some have an expanding capacity for intelligence.

Capacitive Fill Level Sensing

The Capacitive Fill Level Sensing Tag

Identiv provides physical and digital IoT solutions employing RFID and NFC technologies. Its NFC-enabled Capacitive Fill Level Sensing Tag is being used by a medical device manufacturer to detect and authenticate a specific container of medication, as well as to determine whether it is full or empty. The tag can be read via an NFC-enabled smartphone or reader. Product manufacturers can apply the tag on a liquid-filled container, and users can tap their phone against it to view the product’s identity and fill level. The tag can be customized according to the item being tracked, ranging from healthcare and pharmaceutical products to consumer goods or industrial devices.

The Battery-Assisted IoT Pixel

The Battery-Assisted IoT Pixel

The tag is designed to be simple to operate and read, Khoshniyati reports, and liquid levels are sensed by capacitance. Users do not require an external sensor or special equipment for measurement. Instead, a built-in NXP NTAG 22X DNA SD NFC chip provides cryptosecurity, dual-mode tamper detection and capacitive passive sensing. The tag can be affixed to convex or concave surfaces, and it requires no external sensor. Rather, it leverages capacitance measurement values and detects capacitance changes caused by the presence of liquid. In addition, it features built-in AES CMAC encryption functionality.

To leverage these security features, users would employ a custom application when reading the tag, in order to guarantee the integrity of the UID and capacitive values. Interpretation of the capacitance values needs to be integrated either into an associated app (if data is read via a smartphone reader) or in an associated Web service. The capacitive-sensing electrodes’ distance and width can be adjusted to cover a variety of container or bottle sizes.

Manufacturers would typically attach the tags to liquid-filled vials, cartridges or bottles, or to any other type of liquid-filled consumables or containers. The tags could check if syringes or autoinjectors have been properly administered, supporting clinical trials, patient compliance and telemedicine applications. The product is now available in sample quantities, with full availability anticipated later this summer.

Temperature and Humidity Monitoring via BLE

NTAG424 DNA
Identiv is also offering the new Battery-Assisted IoT Pixel device, which uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) data from Wiliot’s technology. Identiv offers a tag that is slightly smaller than a business card, which can be applied to a pallet, carton or product requiring condition monitoring throughout the cold chain or for other applications. The tag comes with an internal printed battery and continuously relays temperature and humidity levels, along with its active status, and can store measurement data even in the absence of BLE beacons or other interrogating energy sources. The device typically costs between $1 and $2, Khoshniyati says, and is now being piloted by multiple customers.

Amir Khoshniyati
Moreover, Identiv offers its uCreate NFC app for iOS or Android, as well as its uCreate Mobile software developers kit (SDK), so that users can develop their own apps to track the data they capture from Identiv tags, such as those discussed above. The company’s Spoken Rx solution, which provides consumers with have quick access to data about the prescription drugs they purchase, has now been deployed throughout all of CVS’s 10,000 locations (see Medications Talk to Visually Impaired via NFC). The technology was initially developed to serve those with visual impairments, Identiv notes, but has since become popular among other types of prescription drug users.

NFC-Enabled Football Jerseys

Additionally, Identiv offers specialized NFC tags, such as a sewn-in label that can be attached to garments. The “NFC life-of-garment” tags are being built into collectible jerseys for the Copa Do Brasil football team Atletico Mineiro. So far, the tags have been built into the labels of approximately 120,000 such jerseys. Fans who buy the shirts can interact with them by tapping an NFC-enabled phone against the label. The phone will then read the tag and be prompted to open a website containing content about the team and allowing them to authenticate the product.

The tag, which features NXP’s NTAG 424 DNA chip, has a unique antenna design and tag conversion, the company reports, and is designed to be integrated into the jersey, while withstanding repeated wash and dry cycles. The solution is provided by brand-protection company CollectID, which links blockchain software with the Identiv tags. A beverage company is also piloting the Identiv tags and is leveraging Williot’s BLE passive sensing tags to monitor in-store product displays.

While growth is taking place across numerous sectors, Khoshniyati says, the demand around authentication of medical devices and pharmaceutical products is at an all-time high. Brand protection and authentication of high-quality products is also in great demand. He reports that consumers and businesses alike are becoming more familiar with NFC and BLE systems enabling them to access data touch-free and make payments via contactless cards. “I think payment is really driving a lot of the adoption of complementary technologies,” he states.

That, Khoshniyati adds, means Identiv can spend less time explaining the technology to customers and more time developing the best solution. “A lot of the discussion we’re having around NFC is not around ‘What is NFC?’ but more ‘How do we optimize usage of NFC on the applications side of things?'” The company has manufacturing sites in Singapore (where its capacity is in the hundreds of millions) and in Munich, Germany. where the specialty tags are produced.

Key Takeaways

  • New sensor-based NFC tags are bringing intelligence to consumers and other users with a tap of a smartphone.
  • Partnership with BLE company Wiliot has led to a printed battery-assisted tag that measures and transmits sensor data via Bluetooth.