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Thinfilm Launches OpenSense Printed NFC Sensor Label for Bottles

The Norwegian firm's product comes at the same time that the company prepares the release of an NFC temperature label, and has signed a partnership with Xerox, which is planning to mass-produce contact memory labels using Thinfilm's platform, and is researching an NFC version of the labels.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 27, 2015

Printed electronics company Thin Film Electronics (Thinfilm) has announced a fully printed Near Field Communication (NFC) sensor tag known as OpenSense, a product designed for use on bottles to authenticate a bottle's contents, or to indicate (when read) if its seal has been broken. The "smart bottle" tag (slated for commercial launch during the third quarter of this year) will be displayed in prototype version by Thinfilm and Diageo, a maker of alcoholic beverages that assisted in the tag's development. The two companies will demonstrate a "smart bottle" of Johnnie Walker Blue Label with the OpenSense label attached to its cap and bottle at the Mobile World Conference, being held on Mar. 2-5 in Barcelona.

The OpenSense tag adheres to the side of a bottle (such as a beverage, cosmetics, a pharmaceutical product or perfume) and extends to the cap, such that any effort to break the cap's seal would also damage the tag. In that event, the tag would still respond to interrogation from an NFC reader, but would also transmit data indicating that the seal had been broken. The pre-encoded NFC tag (with 128 bits of read-only memory) could also be used for inventory management, Thinfilm reports, as well as for authentication and tamper detection.

Thinfilm's OpenSense tag, hidden under the bottle label for Diageo's Johnnie Walker whisky, will allow the spirits company to track bottle movements across the supply chain, in-store and to the point of consumption, with the tags remaining readable even when the factory seal has been broken, thereby helping to verify the product's authenticity.
Later this year, Thinfilm says it will begin offering sample versions of its first NFC RFID sensor tag (currently known as the Thinfilm Smart Label) that could be used to collect or update data regarding an item's status (such as its authenticity, temperature exposure or approaching expiration)—whether that item is a can of beans or a high-value pharmaceutical or electronic device.

Initially, the Thinfilm Smart Label—which the company first announced and demonstrated in May 2014—will come with a printed temperature sensor, powered by a nonprinted lithium battery to determine if a predetermined temperature range has been exceeded. An NFC reader could then access that data via the tag's passive NFC chip. In the future, the company notes, it could include a printed battery instead, as well as work with a variety of other sensors (such as those for measuring air pressure).

The Thinfilm Smart Label will allow consumers to learn whether a product has been exposed to conditions that are either too hot or too cold, as well as its unique ID number and any data related to that ID. The tag could provide sensor data and the ID number to an NFC-enabled smartphone, while software could manage information related to that unique ID, such as a product's expiration date.

"Initial versions will focus on temperature and contain sensors that determine if an excursion has occurred outside of a pre-set temperature range," explains Matthew Bright, Thinfilm's product and technical marketing director. Applications will be within the pharmaceutical and perishable food markets, he adds, so individuals equipped with NFC phones could view a product's temperature history and thereby be informed if a threshold has been passed, which would render the product unusable.


John Bishop 2015-03-02 03:30:12 AM
Looks like a nice solution. From an anti-counterfeiting perspective, what's preventing someone to copy the URL coming out of a scan of a closed bottle, and copy it on another tag to make a genuine fake?

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