ITALY | Activities

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ITALY | Activities

Useful application of technology by Italian students

- The project aims primarily to demonstrate the ease with which a microcontroller system can be integrated within a food chain to insure the authenticity of a product and protect the -

Nowadays, when we buy a food product, we realize that  on supermarket shelves  there are products not only from all the Italian regions, but also from the rest of Europe. The question that every consumer has asked at least once is: are these products really safe?  Who guarantees that a product, valuable or not, is authentic and not counterfeit? The European Union has laws and regulations among the most advanced in the world that are designed to ensure the safety of products , taking into account the principle that we can achieve true security only if we control  the entire production and distribution chain .


The project carried out by the students of classes VB and VC of the School for Computer Science and Telecommunications in Oppido Mamertina aims primarily to demonstrate the ease with which  a microcontroller system can be integrated within a food chain to insure the authenticity of a product and protect the "Made in Italy" brands from counterfeits. In particular, through the use of the well-known Italian open source platform "ARDUINO" and a card reader / writer NFC, a technique has been developed for creating an electronic label with a "security code" derived from the serial number of the TAG throughout a complex algorithm implemented in the microcontroller platform.

By placing one smartphone with NFC technology on a TAG pasted on the product package,  we read the code thanks to an app Arduino,and not only verify the authenticity but obtain all of the tracking information regarding the chain of distribution.  

. The NFC Technology

NFC (Near Field Communication, ) is a wireless radio frequency technology that allows the exchange of information, i.e. the transfer of small amounts of data, between two devices at a short distance. When two devices equipped with NFC  are within a range  of 4 cm, they create a "point to point" network between them and can "communicate", or send and receive information .
A very important aspect of the NFC technology is that it is arranged to read the so-called TAG , 
which are small and cheap programmable chips  used to give information and perform operations to NFC terminals. 
The TAG used in NFC  are "passive", i.e. no power supply (battery) is needed the TAG is powered by the induced current generated by the device that reads it, the Reader (eg a smartphone), thanks to the phenomenon known as magnetic induction. 

5.1 NDEF: NFC Data Exchange Format 
The NFC has three modes of operation: 
- Read / Write Mode: In this mode a device with NFC technology communicates with a TAG 
NFC, reading and writing data to it; 
- Peer-to-peer mode: 

The first mode is the one that suits  the purposes of the project and draws our attention. First, it is important to emphasize that the amount of information that can be stored in the memory of the TAG is generally limited to a few kB. Also a part of memory is non-volatile EEPROM, and this memory stores the universal identifier UID (UniquelIDentifier), that can not be cloned or modified. 
The storage of data in the TAG uses a protocol encapsulation of data and takes the name of NDEF. In particular, it describes the format for encapsulation of information in messages exchanged between NFC devices, allowing them to store any type of information in the form of records. 

5.2 The card reader / writer NXP PN532 
The card used to write NFC TAG in  this project is produced by  Elechouse and
contains the chip NXP PN532. It communicates with the Arduino board via a I2C protocol 
or SPI (Serial Parallel Interface )
Thanks to the libraries supplied with the card, available for free download from [15], it is possible to do all possible operations on a TAG, including format NDEF format, delete the 
content, read the serial UID, write a message NDEF of type Text or RTD 

NFC and Arduino: an innovative approach to traceability and anti-counterfeiting food products

The project was developed in two phases: the first, built by using the platform ARDUINO UNO and the board NFC described above. It uses a technique to write on  the TAG, attached on the product to be protected, a  " “security code” closely linked to the serial number of the TAG UID that is not cloned or modified. 
The second phase, however, has been devoted to the design of an ANDROID app, in environment 
Eclipse, to read the security code written during the first phase, to perform a de-coding and 
understand  if the code is actually associated with the serial number of the TAG. In the case of a positive outcome, the application confirms the authenticity of the product and allows access to a further screen with information regarding the traceability of the product.