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New Identec Solutions tag combines RFID, GPS, satellite communications ••• Beaconinside launches second-gen beacon hardware and software ••• Thinfilm receives $350K through FlexTech Alliance to extend sensor platform ••• Global RFID market for retail to near $4 billion in 2019, Technavio finds ••• Schreiner LogiData unveils new NFC label for Android smartphones.
By Beth Bacheldor

Thinfilm Receives $350K Through FlexTech Alliance to Extend Sensor Platform

Thinfilm Electronics Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of printed electronics company Thin Film Electronics (Thinfilm), has announced that it will receive $350,000 in funding through the FlexTech Alliance to create smart labels featuring next-generation sensors and Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities. Through the project, Thinfilm says, it plans to extend the scope and versatility of its proprietary technology and smart label platform, while maintaining alignment with established processes for high-volume label manufacturing.

The FlexTech Alliance is an industry association focused on growth, profitability and success throughout the manufacturing and distribution chain of flexible, printed electronics. Its research and development (R&D) program supports the development of a manufacturing supply chain.

According to Heidi Hoffman, FlexTech's director, the association has acted as a public and private partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for more than 20 years. Various groups within the DoD have used FlexTech (Including DARPA, Army Research Laboratory and Air Force Research Laboratory) as a vehicle for making technology development investment decisions that might require a cadre of expertise not resident within their unit, she explains. By using FlexTech's Technical Council and Governing Council, comprising industry leaders and experts, as well as the association's proposal and funding process, Hoffman explains, the DoD knows that it is investing its research funds in leading-edge proposals for the tools and products that its needs to effectively do its mission. FlexTech's process also helps to ensure that there is a path to commercialization for the products developed.

"With regard to this project, in particular, DoD has keen interest in asset tracking and advanced sensor development for many of their support missions," Hoffman states. "So, it is a best-of-both-worlds thing—Thinfilm develops technology that will support DoD's mission and, at the same time, it de-risks some of its development for the super-high-volume component upon which it may sell to commercial customers. We focus on projects which would not otherwise be on the development path for commercial organizations."

The FlexTech Alliance requires at least 50 percent cost share by the company carrying out the development, Hoffman says, though it usually exceeds 50 percent.

According to Thinfilm, the thin, flexible smart labels produced by the firm as a result of this project will incorporate one or more sensors that dynamically detect, measure and report on a range of environmental phenomena.

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