RAIN RFID tags, which operate in the UHF frequency range and provide fast identification over long distances without the need for any battery supply, have become the technology of choice for retail and logistics, especially in applications like track and trace, inventory management, and theft protection. Now, in a move that promises to expand the options for RAIN RFID, NXP Semiconductors offers new tag ICs equipped with larger memory and advanced security features, including encrypted authentication.
Taking supply chain management to the next level
The extra features let the tag ICs do more, such as authenticate products and help fight counterfeits. In the automotive or aircraft industry, for example, the unintended assembly of counterfeit components can lead to serious safety threats. Secure authentication, based on standardized cryptographic algorithm, does establish a safer border against fakes to enter legitimate supply channels.
In addition the automated tracking capability, our UCODE product line makes it harder for authentic products to be diverted into grey-market channels. Avoiding grey channels and controlling the production process according to industry 4.0 and ensuring authenticity also provides great benefits to other product categories, such as fast moving consumer goods (FCMG), luxury items and consumer electronics.
Another area that will benefit from the new features is the collection of vehicle registration fees. In some countries, tax-collection agencies report that nearly one in three vehicles is out of compliance. The new UCODE DNA tags will be part of Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) systems, making it easier to identify people driving unregistered vehicles and collect relevant fees. Crypto-based security also means fewer opportunities for stealing, misusing or falsifying registrations.
Three new UCODE versions
NXP – a board member of the RAIN RFID Alliance and a leading provider of passive UHF RFID solutions – has added new products to the popular UCODE family. The new UCODE 7xm offers 448 bits of electronic product code (EPC) memory and 1024 bits of user memory, so the tag can store production instructions as well as quality monitoring parameters directly on the UCODE chip, which then makes the product intelligent. The UCODE 7xm+ is an upgrade to the UCODE 7xm, with twice the user memory (2048 bits), and extra security features, including a digital signature that can be used for product identification and authentication in the field. The UCODE DNA has 224 bits of EPC memory and 3072 bits of user memory, and is pre-loaded with advanced security features, including AES cryptographic authentication. UCODE DNA is the first RAIN RFID tag IC to combine long range and security.
All three new members of the UCODE family offer the EPC G2V2 untraceable feature which may be used to ensure consumer privacy, in case the RAIN tag stays on the product after being sold. This responds to need coming in particular from the FMCG and apparel industry.
It’s important to note that developers don’t need to have cryptography experience to take advantage of UCODE DNA’s advanced cryptography features. NXP’s trust provisioning service generates and inserts the cryptographic keys into the tag during manufacturing, which means that the security features are already in place, and ready to use as shipped.
No more tradeoffs
Equipped with larger memories and advanced security features, the new UCODE tag ICs eliminate the usual tradeoff of having to choose between contactless performance and the need for security, and open up exciting new possibilities for new RAIN RFID applications.
About the Author
Ralf Kodritsch is Global Segment Manager for RFID Solutions at NXP Semiconductors. He has over 15 years of experience in the semiconductor industry and more than 8 years of experience in the RAIN RFID industry. His vast industry network and profound market insights are key to providing best-in-class solutions and services to the RAIN RFID industry.