Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Freescale and INSIDE Secure revolutionize prepaid meter

SAN ANTONIO, USA: Freescale Semiconductor and INSIDE Secure have announced a secure prepaid utility meter reference design with near field communication (NFC) connectivity that OEMs can use to quickly and cost-effectively bring to market electricity meter products. The reference design, based on the Freescale Kinetis MK30 microcontroller (MCU), provides the first NFC-based, prepaid meter with the ability to securely reload energy credit balances.

Utilities in many countries require a sophisticated payment infrastructure to facilitate the utility payment process while preventing fraud. Secure prepaid meters, such as this reference design developed by Freescale and INSIDE Secure, address this need by adding sophisticated smart card security mechanisms that have been proven in the banking industry. Products based on this reference design are protected from fraud because they employ a VaultICTM security module and NFC technology to safely load energy credits from a smart card or an NFC-enabled phone.

"The global need for prepaid metering solutions and robust security is rapidly increasing, especially in emerging markets," said Bruno Baylac, director of Freescale's Metering, Medical and Connectivity Solutions business. "By partnering with INSIDE Secure we are not only bringing advanced security features but also innovative contactless technology, enabling the design of simple, tough mechanical meters that are virtually tamper-proof."

"In many parts of the world, prepaid electricity meters offer the best solution for controlling energy distribution, but providing adequate security to prevent fraud has always presented challenges," said Christian Fleutelot, GM, Vault-IC SAS business unit and executive VP for digital security at INSIDE Secure. "Through our collaboration with Freescale, we have been able to combine our leading security and connectivity solutions to protect prepaid meters while providing a more convenient way to load energy credits and deliver valuable usage information to utilities."

The reference design features Inside Secure's VaultICT 460 and NFC (MicroRead 3.4) chipset. The VaultICT 460 security module provides comprehensive security functions such as mutual authentication, verification and generation of certificates, encryption/decryption and managing secure storage of cryptographic keys. It is FIPS140-2 Level 3 ready. NFC connectivity is implemented using the MicroRead controller and Open NFC protocol stack.

The system is powered by the Freescale MK30X256 32-bit MCU (built on the ARM Cortex-M4 core), which operates up to 100 MHz with 1.25 DMIPS/MHz. The firmware is based on Freescale's MQXT real-time operating system. The built-in segment LCD controller displays all standard metering values at the push of a button.

The secured prepaid meter reference design is being demonstrated by Freescale and INSIDE Secure during the DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition, January 24-26, in booth 131 in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The reference design also will be demonstrated in the Freescale booth during the Smart Metering UK & Europe Summit 2012 conference and exhibition being held in London January 26-27.

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