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Avery Dennison Aims to Deliver Product Info Via RFID, Bar Codes

The Janela Smart Products Platform will enable consumers and businesses to scan product labels, provided by Avery, and access related information delivered by EVRYTHNG's cloud-based software.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 20, 2016

Avery Dennison Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS) is launching a cloud-based Internet of Things platform, known as the Janela Smart Products Platform, that will enable consumers to scan labels fitted with either EPC Gen 2 or Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags, or printed with QR codes, in order to receive information about the products to which they are attached. The system will use labels provided by Avery Dennison, in conjunction with software developed by EVRYTHNG. The software will link the unique identifier of each label used by the brand manufacturing a particular product with content that could include the date and location of manufacture, as well as any information about the product or brand that the company would want consumers to access.

Avery Dennison's goal is to have 10 billion products uniquely identified in the Janela system with a variety of relevant information during the next three years.

Avery Dennison RBIS' Deon Stander
"We're launching the Janela platform for two reasons," says Deon Stander, Avery Dennison RBIS' VP and general manager. One reason, he says, is that his firm predicts that the Internet of Things will "provide a significant opportunity for businesses to connect consumers to their products." Just as technology such as RFID enables the unique identification of a product, consumers are increasingly using their smartphones or tablets to learn more about goods before or after purchasing them. The second reason, he says, is that "Avery Dennison is uniquely positioned, as the leader of packaging," as well as of tags and labels for apparel and consumer products, to mobilize IoT technology for its customers—the apparel brands.

EVRYTHNG, a software company with offices in London, New York and Zurich, was launched in 2012. Niall Murphy, EVRYTHNG's CEO and cofounder, says his firm was created to provide software that would enable "smart products" for the Internet of Things, and that it has since provided the management of unique identifiers and related content for such products. EVRYTHNG's software will collect and manage the product labels' unique identifiers and link that data with a variety of content and information about those products that could then be accessed by consumers, as well as by retailers, brand owners and logistics providers. In that way, he explains, the Janela system can allow consumers to engage with their products, either before or after they make a purchase, while also providing inventory and supply chain visibility for those moving or selling the goods.

While Avery Dennison is providing access to the Janela platform, in addition to making the necessary labels and packaging for brands, EVRYTHNG's focus is on "managing billions of identities," Murphy states.

There are several different technologies that could enable such a system, Stander notes, including EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlays, high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive NFC RFID tags and printed QR codes. "We're effectively trigger-agnostic," he says, since brands are likely to use a variety of technologies to identify their products.

Smartphones can read NFC tags; however, few brands are actually using NFC labels on their products at present. EPC Gen 2 UHF tags are becoming common for tracking inventory, but smartphones and tablets are not yet equipped with UHF RFID readers, so it would be difficult for consumers to interrogate such tags. QR codes could be printed on labels, and consumers could scan them using their phones, though QR codes can be slower to scan and view data than NFC or EPC Gen 2 tags.

Stander says he expects that 10 billion products on the Janela system could use any of the three technologies. However, he cannot predict what percentage would consist of EPC Gen 2 or NFC RFID tags.

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