LONDON – Analog chip company Austriamicrosystems AG and Dutch company NXP Semiconductors NV have announced that they have developed a reference design for product authentication in embedded consumer applications.
The design incorporates the AS399x UHF RFID Reader IC from Austriamicrosystems (Unterpremstatten, Austria) and the G2iL microcontroller from NXP (Eindhoven, The Netherlands).
The design is aimed at applications such as vacuum cleaner bags, water filters, and beverage concentrates where authentication of consumables plays an important role, according to Austriamicrosystems. The RFID technology could be used to help log when a non-authentic consumable is used and support the equipment manufacturer's option to void a customer's warranty.
The authentification system requires little external code and offers password protected features, privacy commands and anti-tampering functions.
"The cost versus performance considerations for embedded applications in consumer products mean that we are the only real choice on the market at the moment," said Kambiz Dawoodi general manager of consumer and communications for austriamicrosystems. "This collaboration with NXP means we now can also provide a solution with the most competitive tag silicon on the market."
"Such RFID-enabled authentication of consumable products leads to revenue, brand and end-user protection," said. Chris Feige, NXP's general manager for tagging and authentication, in the same statement.
At what point are there legal requirements that non-OEM supplies that objectively meet the operational requirements must be allowed? My understanding was that voiding a warranty because non-OEM supplies were used (or non-manufacturer service in the case of a car) was not legal. Although I'm not an attorney, I've read online (http://inkinawink.tripod.com/id27.html):
A/ "Your warranty can not be denied solely because you use third party products. Additionally, any damage claim by a service representative must be backed with proof that the damage was caused by the third party product and not solely on his/her opinion."
B/ "Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and general principles of the Federal Trade Commission Act, a manufacturer may not require the use of any brand of ink (or any other article) unless the manufacturer provides the item free of charge under the terms of the warranty." (obviously ink is not provided free of charge)
C/ Being forced by a manufacturer to use OEM brand supplies may also be a violation of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts which prohibit "tying" sales.
What is the truth of the matter?
I think this kind of authentication isn't very much appreciated in the emerging economies were people is always trying to save resources and I agree with daleste that the market might back-fire in such places.
On the other hand, this can be very useful from the producers point of view because it can be used to put a stop to piracy.
This is similar to the ink consumable in inkjet printers. The manufacturer makes their profit from the consumable instead of the actual device. This may be a good idea for the manufacturer, but the consumers have become more savvy. If I can't use discount vacuum bags or water filters, I won't buy the product. This could back fire.
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