Picture: EM Microelectronic

Latest generation RAIN NFC ICs are the key to e-commerce

Due to the pandemic, many people will become more accustomed to online trading!

In 2016, EM Microelectronic presented the world's first chip combining UHF and NFC technology in one IC. The second generation of this technology was introduced in January 2020 with a particular focus on enabling omnichannel business and product authentication.

In an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global, Dr. Paul Muller, RFID Business Unit Manager at EM Microelectronic, describes his view on the benefits of "RAINFC" and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on accelerating the trend towards alternative channels in retail.

Interview

Dr. Muller, how can passive RFID technology support companies during and after the pandemic?

The crisis puts retailers in situations that threaten their existence. They are poised to move online in order to survive, transforming omnichannel from a nice-to-have buzzword into a key pillar for their operations. Technologies can help retailers to implement digital business models. With Dual Frequency RAINFC (i.e. RAIN RFID combined with NFC), customers can experience online shopping experiences comparable to those of brick-and-mortar shopping. The retailer has its channels under control and, if a customer needs assistance, with a phone tap she can provide direct feedback or access customer service.

Due to the pandemic, many people will become increasingly accustomed to online retailing. They are unlikely to return to traditional buying patterns. To help the retail sector deal with this rapidly accelerating transformation, EM’s dual frequency technology provides the essential building block for combining logistics with customer interaction and product authentication.

Which new dual-frequency products will be introduced in 2020?

The "em|echo-V" chip is now available in volume production and fully EPC Gen2v2.0.2 and NFC Type-5 compliant. As a shared memory chip, this technology enables the production of combined UHF NFC tags in a single process step. The encoding can also be done in one step via one of the two communication interfaces, reducing the overall manufacturing and encoding costs and providing backward compatibility with existing infrastructure.

"em|echo-V"enables a seamless transition between logistics and inventory processes based on UHF RAIN RFID and customer interaction solutions via NFC. The newly introduced chips, with their cryptographic AES-128 hardware implementation, enable a high level of security for Brand Protection applications, enabling users to easily verify the authenticity of products via their smartphone.

Is the technology also suitable for pharmaceutical applications?

Yes, it is indeed. With the combined technology in one tag, not only can the entire supply chain be transparently secured from production to distribution. Buyers of pharmaceutical products can also check the 100% authenticity themselves. This applies to the product and the distribution channel.

Which topics are on the development agenda after the presentation of the 2nd RAINFC IC Generation in 2020?

In parallel with deploying “em|echo-V” into the market place, our engineering team is busily working on the expansion of our Augmented RFID portfolio.

Combining our passive RFID technology with our ultra low power sensor expertise, this platform will enable remote long-distance sensor read-out using standard RAIN RFID readers, allowing our customers and partners to develop passive sensor network solutions that harvest energy from the RF field and do not require a battery or other external energy source.

Our Augmented RFID technology will enable sustainable and cost-effective sensor network deployments, supporting an accelerated spread of sensors for battery-free IoT: from product conditioning and predictive maintenance in industrial environments to equipment monitoring in transport applications, and smart solutions for gardening and agriculture.

Dr. Paul Muller
Dr. Paul Muller
RFID Business Unit Manager
Marin, Switzerland
Fritz Mbumb-Kumb
Fritz Mbumb-Kumb
Field Application Engineer
Marin, Switzerland
Laura Sanchez Cabrera
Laura Sanchez Cabrera
Field Application Engineer
Marin, Switzerland
Norbert Flossmann
Norbert Flossmann
Marketing Manager Germany
Eschborn, Germany
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