Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Texas Instruments transponder increases monitoring and control for asset tracking

Steve Rogerson
December 17, 2014
A programmable chip from Texas Instruments increases the ability to monitor and log in asset tracking applications. Called a transponder, the ISO 15693-compliant 13.56MHz device acts as a sensor and can transmit information using near field communications (NFC).

The RF430FRL15xH system-on-chip combines an ultra-low-power microcontroller with non-volatile memory and suits consumer wearables, industrial, medical and asset tracking applications.

Logistics applications such as food tracking need constant temperature control, which can be monitored and logged with the transponder. It allows the design of integrated, size-optimised and easy-to-use data loggers with several sensors that connect to NFC-enabled devices and readers throughout the distribution channel.

The device combines an ISO 15693-compliant NFC interface with a programmable microcontroller, non-volatile memory, an analogue-to-digital converter and SPI or I2C interface. The dual-interface NFC sensor transponder is optimised for use in fully passive (battery-less) or semi-active modes to achieve extended battery life.

The non-volatile memory provides stability and reliability while providing what is claimed to be the industry’s lowest power consumption and virtually unlimited write cycles. It lets developers create products that can quickly store sensor data and enables easy configuration of the transponder and sensors to meet any application’s needs.

Developers can now design products that require an analogue or digital interface, data-logging capabilities and data transfers to an NFC-enabled reader. The transponder acts as a sensor node for these applications and generates an IoT-ready system when an NFC-enabled device pushes the data to the cloud.

In medical or health and fitness applications, it can be used in disposable patches that sense temperature, hydration and more. This allows patients to monitor and share vital data securely with their health providers. The device monitors and logs data in local storage before transferring it to an NFC-enabled tablet or smartphone.

It also enables the design of maintenance-free and hermetically sealed galvanic isolated sensor systems in industrial markets. These sensors are powered out of the RF field and communicate wirelessly through NFC to collect and log data.

The device supports wireless communications via the ISO/IEC 15693, ISO/IEC 18000-3 compliant RFID interface.

Optimised for 1.5V single-cell-battery-powered designs or battery-less designs that harvest energy from the RF field generated from an NFC reader at the same reading distance, its intelligent power management includes a battery switch to increase battery life.

Developers can start evaluating this family of NFC sensor transponders with an evaluation module and an upcoming educational webinar. The evaluation board can be powered with a battery, USB or by harvesting RF energy from a nearby NFC-enabled reader or smartphone. For further expansion, the evaluation board is compatible with a number of booster packs from the company’s LaunchPad rapid prototyping ecosystem.