Doorlocks: are you in or are you out?

Charles Dickens once said:

“A very little key will open a very heavy door.” Little did he know back in the 1800s that there will come a day when no physical key will be needed to open a door. Regardless of how heavy the door is and perhaps does not even have an actual keyhole.

In the previous post we’ve talked about the IoT applications and how NFC technology drives the development. Today we want to go deeper and explore one of the key IoT applications (pun intended).

Smart home, smart lock, smart phone

Did you know that the first smart home technology can be traced back to 1975? I didn’t. I wasn’t even born then, and people were already developing a home automation platform, X10, that was sending digital information through radio frequency bursts via a home’s existing electrical wiring.

Back then this technology was limited and available only to early adopters and wealthy people, this is definitely not the case anymore. It took awhile for the concept to be picked up by the giants of the electronics industry. Driven by the adoption of the internet and connected devices, in 2014 Apple and Amazon threw in their hats into the smart home ring – by creating the Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.

Smart locks. Where do they fit in?

Would a smart home be complete without a smart lock? I don’t think so. And since we’ve already accepted the digitization of a large  part of our lives, such as payment, identification, communication, – it would only be natural to digitalize locks and keys as well.

Even though safety has a paramount importance when talking about switching from “physical” to “digital” keys and locks, what actually attracts customers and end users is the convenience. Just how much more convenient it is to pull out a phone out of your pocket, rather than a) looking for your keys (shoutout to all the women out there with the pandora boxes instead of purses) b) going through the 10th key while looking for the one you need.

It doesn’t even have to be your phone, it can be a smart watch, a plastic card that fits nicely within your wallet, a smart ring, or any other tokenized device – like a keychain fob. And yes – all of that can be and is powered by NFC.

NFC for smart locks

While NFC is not yet the most popular protocol used for the smart locks, it has gained significant traction over the last few years. NFC chips are effective in communication over short distances and at the same time require very little energy ideal for applications that have to show intent such as access control. It would be enough to supply the NFC enabled lock with just a couple of batteries for it to function for a few months, even years.

And as the smart locks would function as an active NFC device, the “key” can be passive, it doesn’t need a power source to work. Due to the electromagnetic inductance and other technical magical voodoo, NFC makes the process of unlocking doors as easy as 1 – 2 – open. In addition, you can share a digital key on a cell phone with a time stamp to give access to a family member, friend or cleaner.

Not only can you use smart locks to actually lock and open doors, but you can also analyse the information you get out of the system. You can have more control over monitoring and management, see who has access, you can grant and revoke permissions to enter certain areas, you could control it remotely, from a web or mobile interface.

And while it sounds nice, NFC in smart locks is not as widely known as other technologies such as Bluetooth, which is a shame considering that over 1 billion smart phones a year are manufactured with NFC built in, as well smart watches, fitness trackers, etc. So it won’t be long till it takes off and when it does – you want to make sure you’re on the right side of the door.

Panthronics’ PTX100R delivers unique advantages to the smart lock industry and customers. High output power and high sensitivity ensures high reading distance for the best customer experience​, while our Direct Antenna connection brings optimal interoperability with different cards and digitalized tokens. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Keep on reading and stay tuned!

Author: Evgeniia Vinogradova 

NFC enabled IoT applications

Brendan O’Brien once said:

“If you think that the internet has changed your life, think again. The
Internet of Things is about to change it all over again!”. And boy he wasn’t wrong! From consumer
goods to industrial 4.0, from self-driving vehicles to entire smart home ecosystems – nowadays
everything can be connected to the Internet of Things. What does this have to do with NFC, you may
ask? Lets explore this.

NFC is already adopted in the mobile arena: there will be 1.5 billion NFC-enabled mobile devices
shipped per year by 2025, according to ABI Research from 2020. When looking at IoT devices the
numbers are even more exciting: 20 billion IoT enabled devices were predicted to be in use by the
end of 2020, and by 2030 this number will reach half a trillion devices. ABI Research predicts by end
of 2021 6,925 billion devices shipped will be NFC-enabled.

Phil Sealy, research director at ABI Research said “The pandemic has created a surge in NFC usage,”.
“NFC use in payment scenarios pre-Covid-19 was high but, post-Covid-19, we predict that NFC will be
extended to other use cases as consumers are showing an increasing reliance on the technology.”

What are the applications that drive these numbers and the growth?

There are so many IoT applications, we wouldn’t have enough time and space to tell you about each
and every one of them. In this blogpost we will cover the NFC enabled IoT applications where we see
highest potential for further development and growth of NFC features.

Authentication and access control

From passport control kiosks to consumer goods, from gaming consoles to check-in counters, from
printers in your office to manufacturing automation – NFC is an inseparable part of our experience
when using these devices. But what value does NFC bring to those applications? It identifies
documents, authenticates replacement parts, allows for fast pairing and easier access to
information, identifies users, increases automation and drives personalisation, and so much more.

Like Phillips uses NFC to authenticate its toothbrush sets, in the same way Xiaomi uses NFC to
authenticate air filters used in Xiaomi air purifier. Why is that so important and what does this mean
for me?

Imagine Phillips homecare product line. Imagined? Now try and count the number of products they
have in that line, let alone the amount of different toothbrushes and respective heads. How much
easier would it be, if with a single tap of the device you instantly know which kind of head fits to
which model of the toothbrush. Magic, right? Wrong, just NFC.

And all this talk about saving the planet, using less paper, being green – and we’re still using a lot of
paper to print user manuals and operating instruction. But what if it would’ve been possible to avoid
all that? You see where I’m going here? Just one tap with your smartphone and all that information
is available to you in a blink of an eye, no trees hurt.

It also allows brands to gather essential market intelligence in real time, analyse their customers and
the needs of customers much better. Enabling them to provide a better service or product,
identifying gaps in their portfolio, and tuning their product strategies. In a nutshell, it improves the
connection between companies and their clients, drives sales, increases customer satisfaction,
enables brand loyalty.

Panthronics PTX100R delivers unprecedented benefits for the authentication use case in IoT
applications. High output power and best industry’s sensitivity allows the use of a very small reader
antenna, a few square millimetres, which enables smallest and sleekest designs, reduces BOM size
and cost. And who says small = less power? those who haven’t yet benefited from Panthronics
innovative PTX100R NFC IC technology.

Access control is a completely different story. When I say “hotel key”, you’d barely think of a physical
key and a matching keyhole, rather a plastic card and a reader placed on the door right above the
handle? Well guess what, it also has NFC technology written all over it.

And we are going to tell you more about this use case. Next time

Keep on reading and stay tuned!

Authors: David Renno, Evgeniia Vinogradova

What other dynamics are driving change in the POS Industry?

Bill Gates once said:

“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.” When we look around today, the payment industry has gone through a tremendous amount of change, from paying in cash, using cheques, paying with a card and entering a pin to contactless payment and paying with consumer wearables products, such as smart rings or smart watches. And it has seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives.

In our previous blog post we discussed how the Point of Sale terminals have evolved throughout the years but what we didn’t mention – that change is happening on the other side of the payment as well. The cards, the certification process, user experience – all that evolves and advances at a fast speed and yet again – we need to keep up!

Where did it all begin?

In 1950 a first ever payment card saw the light of day – and how it often happens with great inventions – it happened by accident. A US businessman forgot his wallet and couldn’t cover his bill in a New York restaurant and there you go – Diner’s Club International charge card has emerged from his embarrassment. And today, according to Statista.com roughly 450 billion purchase transactions in 2019 were made globally using different payment cards. Some 70+ years later we cannot imagine our lives without a plastic card. Or can we?

Payment cards have also undergone quite some modifications, from a cardboard card in 1950s to a first ever plastic magnetic strip card in 1970s to a chip card, and finally to an NFC “contactless” card in 2005. You’d think – is there any more room to innovate? And the answer is – yes.

Over the past years, payment cards have evolved into small form factors – such as passive wearable devices – using passive load modulation. They have also digitalized into battery powered consumer devices using active load modulation, allowing to reduce the antenna size while improving  user experience. That’s why we get to enjoy paying with our smart phones, fitness trackers or smart watches.

How do the new market requirements affect Point of Sale terminals?

To consider the ever-changing form factor of a payment card and its integration into different types of devices, EMVCo has recently updated their requirement from EMVCo 2.6 to EMVCo 3. Starting from January 2020, PoS terminals must be tested against 3 different reference antenna PICCs, representing different card form factors. Wave shape[YD1]  tests have to be performed with additional load condition of EMV-TEST PICCs, minimum power transfer requirements have increased, and other specification that do not make life easier.

These certification challenges have a direct impact on time to market and revenue. Having 3 test PICCs and additional load conditions makes the required test cases to pass new EMVCo specifications 3 times as high as EMVCo 2.6. This results in a significant increase of the EMVCo debug session times, resources and impacts the cost. The unique features of Panthronics’ innovative PTX100R helps to pass EMVCo certification in record time, ensuring that your PoS terminal gets to market faster than your competition!

Authors: David Renno, Evgeniia Vinogradova

 

 

Do you know where the PoS market is going?

Charles Darwin once said:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” And this still holds true today  when we talk about successful organisations in dynamic markets.

Over the past few years, the  Point of Sale terminal Market has gone through a tremendous amount of change, ranging from the design and look-and-feel modifications to more stringent certification and security requirements. Fuelled by the pandemic and the desire of people to reduce human contact, the market for PoS terminals is enjoying unprecedented growth and development and  the successful organisation will be able to adapt to the change that is coming.

So, to give you a hand, we have put together some key market trends of the PoS industry, so that you’re prepared for the ride.

Is integration the key?

Have you ever heard your boss say, “I want the terminal to have this A/B/C functionality, we need to pass certification, it should look user friendly, and it should have the smallest BOM and form factor possible”? If yes – then we are on the same side of the trend, which pushes PoS manufacturers to integrate more and more functionalities into more and more compact devices.

Chip&Pin mobile PoS with displays and touchpads, Chip&Sign terminals without a display – these devices tend to get smaller and smaller while the performance requirements keep growing. At the same time, the market for such mPoS devices is growing  – they enable small retailers to conduct EMV transactions, help their customers avoid carrying cash and provide more accurate reporting.

While it is true that such devices are becoming more and more popular, their deployment is yet still limited. But it is only a matter of time until these devices become a world-wide sensation.

Are traditional PoS becoming obsolete?

In German there is this funny word, “jein” – which means yes and no at the same time. Traditional and bulky Point of Sale terminals as we know them will become steadily replaced over time. Or better said – they are going to evolve and transform into the modern day Mobile Smart PoS.

Mobile Smart PoS systems are yet to replace the traditional POS, but already now we know the  features that they are going to possess. First and foremost, the industrial design is going to look quite different from how  the PoS terminals look . The touchpad is going to be replaced by a bigger touch screen and the entire device would look more like a smartphone or PDA. They will carry multiple payment channels, such as QR code, Wechat, digital and crypto currency. Mobile Smart PoS would also allow for the integration of CRM, customer analytics, logistics and stock management systems , bringing marketing analysis in a more convenient way to the retailers on a single platform.

When will this happen?

To give you some insights to where the PoS market is going, let us show you some numbers, they are quite representative!


		
Panthronics Market Analysis based on Nilson Report – PoS Terminal Shipments

The traditional terminal market is going to lose  ground starting from 2022, the volume switching  to Mobile Smart PoS. The mPoS market continues to grow rapidly, which leads to the following question. How can you future proof your products as the market develops?

That’s where Panthronics’ NFC solution is perfectly positioned. Our PTX100R technology has proved its value not only to the traditional PoS manufacturers, allowing them to pass EMVCo 3.0 with smaller antenna in proximity or behind the display, but also to the mPoS and Smart PoS industry leaders, providing high performance RF. Enabling integration in challenging compact designs and noisy environments, as well as innovative PoS designs with antenna behind the display and record time compliance with EMVCo 3.0 certification. This is yet another story.

Stay tuned!
 

Authors: David Renno, Evgeniia Vinogradova