Block On-Metal

September 19, 2019

Block On-Metal: Bringing NFC benefits to multiple applications

NFC and metal surfaces have a somewhat troublesome relationship, because metal tends to “soak up” the reader’s inductive field. Smartrac has solved that problem, and now launches its new Block On-Metal NFC tag that offers excellent performance when tagging metallic items.

Just arrived, already famous: this characterization applies to Smartrac’s new Block On-Metal tags, which experienced their baptism of fire with our customer HonkTAP before their official product launch. In that project, customized versions of Block On-Metal tags are an important component of, as Smartrac’s partner Honk calls it, “the world’s first virtual parking meter.” They enable comfortable “app-less” payments when consumers tap their smartphones on any HonkTAP signage that contains one of the secure and reliable new NFC tags, which can be affixed to parking meters or integrated in standalone structures.

Superior performance in many application areas
With their excellent performance and read range, Block On-Metal tags open the door not only to “the future of parking” but to multiple industrial, retail and B2C applications. These include but are not limited to consumer engagement and experiences, asset management, brand protection, product authentication and payment. Due to its handy dimensions (die-cut size 50 x 50 mm / 1.96 x 1.96 in for the standard tag), the new product allows the identification and provision of a digital identity to a multitude of items– from metallic components to spare parts, signs, tools, even machines and domestic items.

With their excellent performance and read range, Block On-Metal tags open the door not only to “the future of parking” but to multiple industrial, retail and B2C applications.

Flexible ferrite material and optimized antenna design
To achieve superior performance, Smartrac combines an optimized antenna design with a thin layer of flexible ferrite material, which isolates the magnetic field from the metal surface. Ferrite redirects the reader’s inductive field and prevents energy from being wasted as heat within the metallic surface. Like other flexible ferrite-based NFC products from Smartrac, Block On-Metal inlays are suitable for roll-to-roll manufacturing processes, which make onward processing much easier and more cost-effective, and allow converters to overprint the inlays if required.

An IC to match overall tag performance
Block On-Metal’s IC also is state-of-the-art. The new inlay is equipped with the latest member of NXP’s SLIX product family, the ICODE SLIX2 IC. This chip complies with the NFC Forum Type 5 standard, is fully backward-compatible to SLIX, and offers an increased user memory size. It has other new features and performance enhancements, such as NXP originality signature, increased speed for inventory management, and increased read range due to superior resistance to detuning effects. Additional outstanding features are flexible user memory segmentation with separate access conditions, a password-protected on-chip service cycle counter, and a 2.5 Kbit user memory size.

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