At the 8-11 minute portion of this video, there is discussion that Thinfilm Norway has had printed memory for a while. The memory only has 20 bits of memory in the square centimeter or so of space. This is enough to count to one million or so.
Xerox licensed the technology for production but no use cases have been disclosed.
Each one costs less than one dollar.
High end electronics still require silicon electronics. Low end electronics that you want cheap and everywhere then you want to use printed electronics.
Two important trends are coming together—the advent of low-cost, disposable electronics and the proliferation of near field communication (NFC) protocols, particularly in smart devices.
Thinfilm is producing electronics in a fundamentally new way, using roll-to-roll printing. This allows electronic labels that offer a cost-per-function untouchable by any other technology. Rather than $15+ for integrated systems, Thinfilm will be able to produce electronic labels with memory, sensing, display, and/or wireless communications for tens of cents. We are currently producing memory labels on a high-volume, roll-to-roll process, producing electronics by the kilometer. We have also shown our proof-of-concept for the first integrated systems, Thinfilm’s temperature-sensing label, combining sensing, data storage, and display. With over a decade and a half of R&D behind us, printed electronics has come of age.
Though many of Thinfilm’s initial electronic labels will be stand-alone (such as a temperature indicator on a package), an even greater number will be readable via close-proximity wireless communications. One example is reading by NFC-enabled devices such as smart phones. Other systems, though, will use proprietary protocols to establish product differentiation.
The Internet of Things is accelerating, and with cheap, disposable electronics, the applications are numerous. Temperature-sensing devices able to electronically record and communicate exceeding a temperature at 1/10th the price of silicon alternatives. Sensors that can record exposure to light, humidity, and even toxic gases. Dynamic pricing displays that automatically discount a product after a certain period of time, or electronic shelf labels that are lightweight, flexible, and disposable. One-time-use medical devices such as a blood oxygen sensor for use in home care. Memory devices that allow authentication of a branded refill in consumer packaged goods.
Smart memory on a plastic card
Sheet of NFC barcode chips
Thinfilm has signed additional agreements with leading companies in the spirits, tobacco, and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries. These agreements include orders for demonstration systems featuring Thinfilm’s NFC OpenSense product.
“Thinfilm’s technology has the potential to fundamentally change the way consumers, products and brand owners all interact,” said Davor Sutija, chief executive officer for Thinfilm. “These agreements show recognition of that vision, and we’re excited to partner with global leaders in our efforts to bridge the physical and digital worlds and make everyday items smart.”
NFC OpenSense tags are thin, flexible tags that can detect a product’s sealed and open states and wirelessly communicate contextual content with the tap of an NFC-enabled smartphone or device. The tags contain unique identifiers that make it possible for companies to track products to the individual-item level. In addition, the tags remain active even after a product’s factory seal has been broken – empowering brands to extend the dialogue and strengthen relationships with consumers.
In addition to the NFC OpenSense agreements, Thinfilm has achieved a number of key milestones so far in 2015:
* Thinfilm launched NFC OpenSense and unveiled the Johnnie Walker Blue Label® “smart bottle” with Diageo just prior to Mobile World Congress 2015 (which generated media coverage from 110 unique global outlets, including USA Today, The Daily Mail, Forbes, NBCNews.com, VentureBeat, CNET and CNBC’s “Closing Bell”)
* The World Customs Organization (WCO) approved NFC OpenSense a solution on its global anti-counterfeiting platform (the only NFC-based offering available to WCO clients)
* Thinfilm received an Innovation Award from FlexTech Alliance, an IMPACT Award from ECN, and a Best New Product nomination from RFID Journal