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Smartrac Sees RFID's Future in the Cards, the Clouds and the Cosmos

The company is working with Cartamundi to embed NFC tags in game and trading cards, and has also released Smart Cosmos, a cloud-based platform, with the expectation that more objects will be tracked as part of the Internet of Things.
By Claire Swedberg

In addition, with NFC-tagged cards, players would no longer need to be in the same room in order to battle each other. Instead of using a game board, players would utilize NFC-enabled phones to read those cards' RFID tags, and all of the action would be conducted via the Internet. The only physical aspects of the game would be the cards and the phones used to read their tags. "A huge challenge for game designers, when including technologies, is that they often hinder or interrupt the natural game flow," Kestens states. "Cards with NFC can be recognized instantly and automatically in the background. Players can just play the game."

Smartrac has also been expanding its product offerings to include a software platform known as Smart Cosmos, which has been in beta testing since late 2014. The software will be offered for pilots and permanent deployments within two to three months, according to Jason Weiss, Smartrac's cloud platform and applications corporate technology VP.

Smartrac's Jason Weiss
The Smart Cosmos software platform, the company reports, is designed to make it easier and less expensive for systems integrators, IT departments and software engineers to create their own solutions for connecting RFID-based physical objects to the digital world via a cloud-based server, using Smartrac inlays. Rather than purchasing and integrating software, they could use Smart Cosmos to build a system specific to their needs.

One of Smartrac's Smart Cosmos offerings is a cloud-based solution called Profiles, which is intended to enable supply chain monitoring for a monthly fee. This system is currently available to Smartrac's existing customers. Another Smart Cosmos product, known as Objects, is available only as a free "Developer Edition" hosted at the AWS Marketplace, and serves as a repository for data collected from sensors and RFID tags.

The system is designed for a variety of sectors, the company reports, including retail, industrial, government and finance.

FineLine Technologies announced, in November 2014, that it would be building the Smart Cosmos platform into its QCTrak RFID-based application. The company "is currently in discussions with two major retailers, both of whom are moving to RFID source-tagging programs," says George Hoffman, FineLine Technologies' CEO. Leveraging the Smart Cosmos platform, he adds, FineLine's QCTrak application is designed to collect, store and manage cloud-based data that can be shared with members of the supply chain, from the point of manufacture to stores, via mobile devices.

Users deploy an Apple iPhone (running the QCTrak app), with an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader paired to it, to capture and store data regarding an RFID-tagged product's movement or status. "The solution can be used by retailers to conduct in-store RFID tag audits," Hoffman says, adding that it "can be used anywhere in the supply chain, and can be easily used by suppliers at the point of manufacture."

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