IoT News Roundup

MicroStrategy updates its IoT-based Usher access-control platform; ams offers wearable device makers a path for NFC integration; Juniper expects strong growth in smart home market; Marvell announces transceiver for connected cars; privacy checklist for smart-home sellers, buyers.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 23, 2015

Usher Marries Smartphone and Watch With Access Control

MicroStrategy, a Virginia-based developer of enterprise software, has released upgrades to Usher, its mobile phone and smartwatch-based security platform designed to replace conventional security badges and keys for physical access into facilities, while also usurping the need for passwords to control logical access to computer systems and apps used in the workplace.

Usher uses digital keys and proximity-based authentication for physical access into doors, elevators or garages, and is compliant with physical access-control systems from Tyco, Lenel, Honeywell, Datawatch, Paxton and S2 Security. An enterprise can deploy Usher to require employees to provide multiple authentications before accessing Web applications (such as Google Apps, Salesforce and Dropbox), workstations or virtual private networks. These authentications can take the form of scanning QR codes, responding to push notifications on mobile devices, and biometrics. Employee access can also be restricted based on location and time. Usher can also analyze Bluetooth radio signals emitted by beacons installed in the workplace to determine an employee's location, which it can then use to authenticate access or analyze his or her movements.

For Usher 3.0, MicroStrategy has upgraded its interface to make designing and managing badges on the Usher platform more intuitive.

From ams, a Near Field Communication Solution for Wearables

In order to enable manufacturers of smart watches, wristbands and other small wearable electronics to integrate Near Field Communication (NFC) modules into those devices—to support payments or other wireless applications that leverage that short-range RF standard—chip and sensor manufacturer ams has developed a new electronics interface, known as the AS3921 chip. Also called an NFC analog front end (AFE), the AS3921 is designed to amplify the transmission ability of an NFC reader by up to 900 percent, ams claims, when compared with conventional NFC implementations. Ams calls this technology boostedNFC, and says it improves the reliability and perceived speed of NFC transactions when integrated into devices such as smart watches and wristbands that have room only for an extremely small antenna.

The AS3921 draw 12µA of the device's battery power in normal operation. When used in the NFC Secure Element wake-up function, ams reports, the AS3921 draws even less power than the NFC controller circuits, which typically draw 60µA or more.

The AFE is sold in an ultra-compact wafer-level chip-scale package measuring 2.115 millimeters by 1.735 millimeters (0.08 inch by 0.07 inch), and connects directly to the NFC reader's Secure Element with few external components required. Ams adds that the AS3921 with boostedNFC technology implements active load modulation that generates an RFID card response synchronous to the reader's field. This allows for card-to-reader communication at coupling factors as much as one order of magnitude lower than is possible with the passive load modulation (PLM) used by contactless cards, the firm notes. The AS3921 complies with the ISO/IEC 14443 (types A and B) and FeliCa RFID protocols and is available for sampling now. Manufacturers should contact ams for pricing information.

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