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Consumer-Facing NFC Comes to RFID Supply Chain Management System

eAgile's eLink brings NFC and UHF RFID together in a single tag that can be built into medication or product caps, seals or labels, so that it can be tracked through the supply chain via UHF and interrogated by consumers using an app.
By Claire Swedberg

In pursuit of a consumer-facing solution, eAgile has been working on a dual-frequency RFID label for medication and other health-care brands for several years. It has been in discussions with chip manufacturers for a dual-frequency chip, and EM Microelectronic provided the firm with its new EM4423 chip.

With the eLink system, if an individual needs to take a specific drug (such as an over-the-counter pain medication) at preset intervals, he or she could use an app to set up the protocol, and prompt that app to share the data with other parties, such as doctors or family members, if they so desire. In the case of a clinical trial for a new drug, the participants could share the data related to their medication doses with the trial administrators.

Users could then engage with the eLink dual NFC and UHF RFID tags. Each tag's EM4423 chip has both NFC (13.56 MHz, compliant with the ISO 14443A-3 standard) and UHF RAIN RFID functionality built into it. Each time a user taps his or her phone against the NFC tag built into the packaging (in the cap, seal or exterior label), the app could update the status of that person's account, indicating he or she has taken the medication at that specific time. If the individual forgets to take a medication, the eLink app could forward an alert to a family member or health-care provider.

The NFC functionality could provide other features as well, Burns says. Users could tap a phone against a tag to confirm the drug's authenticity, view dosage information, learn how to take the medication, look up its expiration date, access coupons, gain loyalty rewards or reorder the product.

In the meantime, Burns says, the UHF functionality will provide supply chain visibility for brands, distributors and retailers. "The eLink system can offer benefits across the enterprise," he states, by enabling users to view where goods are located at specific times, appropriately route them according to expiration dates and ensure that no counterfeit products end up in the supply chain.

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