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Tracking parcels, letters, cardboard boxes, and packages is usually best serviced by one-time disposable solutions that must, of course, also be low cost.

Technical challenges

Technical challenges

Disposable system solutions must by nature be very low cost, and barcode labels or passive RFID tags are the right choice in this case. RFID tags offer a very important advantage over standard QR codes and barcodes because they contain EEPROM Memory integral to RFID/NFC technology. This not only allows assigning unique IDs, but also the storage of information protected by 64-bit passwords that can ensure different access to different users.

Passive NFC tags therefore provide excellent defense against counterfeiting, with data protection and tamper detection features to prevent grey market proliferation, which represents a significant problem for many brand-name manufacturers. A perfect example is using an RFID NFC passive TAG with unique ID to ensure third party distributors only deliver stock to authorized retailers and dealerships.

Another use case is monitoring environmental parameters such as temperature. In this case, a dedicated, low-cost MCU can be connected to Dynamic NFC Tags to handle sensor data logging.

Digital paper labels far exceed QR code and barcode effectiveness in goods identification, as these tags can store data directly, and even be updated in a secure manner as items move through the supply chain. These new digital labels with protectable memory spanning up to 64 Kbits hold much more data than conventional barcodes can. Tags can also hold unique identifiers, pre-programmed and assigned by the chip manufacturer, acting as pointers to any amount of web-based supporting data, in a much more reliable way than QR codes.

NFC can represent an entry point to a secured transaction ledger for a specific object tracked in a blockchain. It enables authorized users to see the full history of an object, from creation to current status. NFC Tags in blockchains can verify the authenticity and the quality of a physical asset through a straightforward and cost-efficient two-party-only concept for creating reliable end-to-end visibility.

ST solutions

Beyond the NFC Tag capabilities mentioned above, ST25 chips also support energy harvesting technologies to extend battery life and, in some cases, even allow fully autonomous operation without any battery at all.

The ST25T product family offers a wide range of NFC RFID tags operating at 13.56 MHz. These ICs and chips feature 512-bit to 64-Kbit EEPROM memory to store product or item information which can be retrieved at power up at any stage of the end-to-end supply chain. 

Moreover, they hold Unique Identifiers and Trust25 Digital signatures assigned at the EWS stage, and include counters, data protection and tamper detection features to provide multi-layer defense against counterfeiting. Different access credentials can be assigned to different data, allowing intelligent, user-specific data access scenarios across product lifetime.

The ST25TV-eSEAL is a ready-to-use Disposable Tracking demonstration board allowing the user to assess the features and capabilities of the ST25TV series NFC tags, Type 5, with tamper detection functionality and proprietary TruST25 digital signature, as well as a dedicated ST Asset tracking app and DSH-ASSETRACKING web-based cloud dashboard to help with monitoring and streamline management of multi-technology solutions.

This solution can be used with environmental and motion sensor monitoring data to detect damage from falling, or extreme temperature or humidity conditions, and even barometer pressure sensors to detect altitude or transit in a plane and signal take-off and landing phases.

Web-based cloud dashboards allow complete end-to-end application proofs of concept, and ST offers a free asset tracking dashboard powered by AWS, which is free for customers to use for application development purposes in combination with ST sensor nodes.