This week, Thinfilm will be demonstrating how printed electronics will help build the Internet of Everything.
Predictions abound that, over the coming decade, tens of billions of objects - perhaps even hundreds of billions of objects – will become part of the expanding “Internet of Everything”.
The question is no longer whether this will likely occur, but rather, what will this emerging landscape look like? While a good deal of the discussion so far has centered on the types of networks carrying information from these billions of endpoints to the cloud, and the Big Data applications that will mine and analyze this trove, much less has been written about how these ubiquitous endpoints will communicate, and what they will look like.
Conventional electronics are unlikely to be able to scale sufficiently to get to where companies like IBM and Cisco expect the world to be by no later than 2021. Many analysts are beginning to look elsewhere, and a growing consensus now predicts that printed electronics will be a key element in scaling and expanding the range of objects that will soon become “smart”.
These disposable and wearable products may not need to be as smart as more expensive conventional electronic devices, but they will be performant enough to detect changes in the environment such as temperature, humidity, and other variables, while also helping the consumer determine that products are authentic and have not been compromised.
For brand owners, the expectation that smart objects can engage consumers provides new modes of how to market to the long tail, clustering users into more precise demographics and categories, and approaching the previously unattainable goal of interacting individually with each consumer - the proverbial “market of one”.
Thinfilm has recently taken a significant step in this direction with its NFC Barcode featuring OpenSense™ technology, a dynamic NFC tag that allows the consumer to interact with a product through tapping. Using the NFC technology, tapping an internet-enabled smart phone to a smart tag allows for consumer control of data-sharing beyond the edge of the conventional mobile network, creating a way for even disposable products to be internet-enabled.
Through the NFC Barcode with OpenSense technology, these smart objects can each be coded with a unique identity, and if consumers opt in and tap the product, they can then be connected - via mobile-tethered applications or through social media platforms - to the internet as a whole.
The utility for consumers will be broad, including allowing for precise batch and provenance of product, extraction of specific brand-managed content to help the consumer with buying decisions and, after purchase, the ability to give time-stamped geo-location-specific recommendations on the product itself. Eventually, by including integrated sensors into the tags, information about product quality will also be available.