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NFC Caps Enable Tracking, Engagement, Authentication of High-Value Products

Closure Systems International and Talkin' Things have partnered to develop the Talkin' Cap, which CSI is selling as an NFC-enabled enclosure for its customers, including pharmaceutical companies and those making high-value consumer products.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 28, 2018

Global packaging company Closure Systems International (CSI) has released a new container cap that brings Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality to brands without requiring the application of an NFC sticker or label. CSI teamed with Talkin' Things to develop the Talkin' Cap, which comes in two versions: One-Stage and Two-Stage. CSI is now making the cap available to brands for mass production.

The cap is designed to track products in the supply chain, and to enable engagement with consumers following a sale, for the purpose of providing access to information or coupons. The Two-Stage version can detect if it has been opened, and then transmit that status to a user via NFC. The cap technology is designed to enable companies and consumers of their products to access data wirelessly with the tap of an NFC-reading device, such as a smartphone.

The Talkin' Cap
Talkin' Things, founded in 2013, is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., with another facility in Warsaw, Poland. Its NFC solutions are designed to enable physical products to generate digital information via smart packaging. It develops and manufactures NFC tags, while providing software and apps to manage NFC tag read information. The Talkin' Cap solution being marketed by CSI is expected to help brands fight the global problem of product protection and traceability, according to Richard Burt, CSI's business-development VP.

When it comes to product protection, Burt explains, "Every day, food and beverage companies fight consumer health risks and company financial risks associated with the counterfeiting of their products." With NFC technology, he says, goods can be uniquely identified, while the tags' tamper-detection feature ensures they reach customers without being interfered with. "Our goal is to work with companies to implement a technology that will minimize and mitigate the very real and costly threat of global counterfeiting."

NFC tags are already being used by brands, primarily as an adhesive tag affixed to a product label, says Maciej Kiryłło, Talkin' Things business-development director. With this traditional use case, consumers can tap their phone against a tag, and the phone will then be directed to a server where they can access data regarding a particular product, or gain coupons or other materials.

CSI and Talkin' Things have now launched the technology built directly into the enclosures, so that manufacturers no longer need to add an NFC label to their products. The Two-Stage model comes with a loop connected to the antenna, which is broken if the cap is opened, causing a change in the 13.56 MHz RF transmission. In that way, the company explains, a counterfeit item can be detected. "We confirm two elements at once," Kiryłło says, "the confirmation that the product is genuine and the confirmation that it has never been refilled."

For instance, if a high-value product is compromised in the supply chain and fraudulent items are placed in the opened container, an individual could identify that action when tapping the cap with an NFC-enabled mobile phone—even if the cap were closed and apparently sealed. If the cap were opened at a store, that action could be detected in the same way. The software would identify the change in transmission and display an alert. The system can also issue an alert to a brand representative, Kiryłło says, adding, "They can then send a rep to the store to see if their products are genuine."

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