RAIN RFID (UHF): Increasing Security at High Speed
Recently a LinkedIn post from Mahdi Mekic, marketing director of NXP for RAIN RFID, caught our eye. In the post a collaboration is mentioned between IC manufacturer NXP Semiconductors, German communication technology manufacturer Kathrein and vehicle identification specialist Tönnjes. The three parties have put effort in equipping license plates with UHF-tags (also called RAIN RFID tags). Today we are asking Mahdi Mekic from NXP about the background of this collaboration and also what EPC Gen2v2 can bring to the security industry…
Thank you answering our questions Mahdi. Can you start by introducing yourself?
I have been in the RFID industry for 14 years and have had a broad range of roles involving product development, application support, solution management and marketing. Currently I am acting as Marketing Director at NXP Semiconductors’ Business Line Secure Transactions and Identification. I focus on driving adoption of RAIN RFID in various new market verticals such as Automatic Vehicle Identification, Industry 4.0, Food Retail and Blockchain.
Can you tell us what the added value of EPC Gen2v2 is and how NXP is helping vendors to make use of that added value?
Key innovations which EPC Gen2v2 has brought to the market, revolve around increased security and privacy of RAIN RIFD systems. With UCODE DNA, the latest addition to our portfolio of ICs for intelligent tags and labels, we enable vendors to put these new Gen2v2 features into their products’ life. Specifically, on the security side, users now can not only identify objects efficiently via RAIN RFID technology, but they can also securely establish the authenticity of that identity via cryptographic authentication.
Additionally, data stored on the tag can be protected in a way so that it is accessible only to authorized users. This privacy in Gen2v2 specification goes far beyond simple password protection which is vulnerable to various kinds of security attacks such as sniffing and eaves dropping. The new UCODE DNA based solutions ensure that privacy sensitive and protected data can be read out only by readers which have been given access to secure secret keys which are used to uniquely encrypt the data anew every time before it is sent from the tag.
What is the project with Tönnjes and Kathrein about? What is the current status?
NXP, Tönnjes and Kathrein have been working for the past several years very closely together on developing complete solutions for Automatic Vehicle Identification applications, which include government vehicle registration, mandatory technical inspection, road tolling, access to parking facilities, as well as consumption of various vehicle related services at gas stations and drive-through restaurants. Our UCODE DNA chips are embedded in either standard metal vehicle license plates or are built into paper-based labels, both of which can be used to effectively identify and authenticate vehicles by using RAIN RFID reader infrastructure, even in flowing traffic conditions.
At a recent customer event at Sachsen Ring Racetrack in Germany we showed a live demonstration at speeds of 220 km/h with secure authentication running with full 128-bit AES encryption. License plates are available in various sizes and shapes as per standardize in various countries, including license plates for motorcycles. And the labels can be used either on windshields or on vehicle headlamps. These various form factors ensure that all vehicles can be tagged with UCODE DNA irregardless of their size and make.
Do you foresee future roll-outs in great numbers of the combination of UHF with license plates?
Yes. In countries like Honduras, this solution is already a reality and there is significant interest from many other countries from around the globe.
Do you see other applications or verticals where initiatives are started to specifically make use of the increased security level of UHF? Do you see it in the security industry?
Yes, besides different use cases related to vehicle identification, security in RAIN RFID (UHF) technology is gaining traction in other applications such as secure asset tracking (e.g. in industrial or corporate environment), authentication of valuable consumables (e.g. in medical systems), hands free access enhancement in public transport or commercial builds, or visitor management at venues and events.
Do you expect a further increase of the popularity of RAIN RFID and EPC Gen2v2 in the security industry?
Yes, I will give you an example: Munich Security Conference, a globally influential annual conference on international security policy which has been taking place in Munich since 1963, has even used secure RAIN RFID solution based on UCODE DNA to manage attendees from among the government officials, high ranking military leaders, intelligence community representatives and executives from the weapons industry.
Very interesting indeed, thank you Mahdi and good luck with UCODE DNA and RAIN RFID!