NXP Semiconductors - Internet of packages

The benefits of smart packaging with embedded RFID-NFC tags are wide ranging, encompassing everything from consumer engagement to product authentication and quality assurance and supply chain optimisation. Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw, global segment marketing for smart consumer products at NXP Semiconductors, makes a business case for the internet of things.

How has internet of things (IoT) technology progressed in recent years?

Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw: The definition of IoT is increasingly being extended to what is known as the 'internet of everyday things', whereby everyday objects get a unique electronic ID - in the form of RFID or NFC tags - to be accessed via some form of connected reader. Consumer goods including apparel and footwear, food and beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals are becoming smart and cloud-connected.

A recent Vandagraf study forecasts the total market potential of connected packaging and labels will jump to 1.2 trillion units in 2021 and 1.5 trillion units in 2026.

NXP Semiconductors is the number-one supplier of semiconductor-based ID solutions globally. Its research and development of RFID-NFC is considered a vital enabler and growth engine behind the market potential of smart connected products

How does IoT packaging work in a practical sense?

RFID-NFC wireless tagging solutions enable products and their packaging to be connected to cloud-based applications that support big data. Information on RFID tags can be accessed via dedicated supply chain readers, which can read at distances up to 10m, while NFC tags are effective over a few centimeters with the more than two billion NFC-enabled smartphones owned by everyday consumers.

There are three separate data application layers, at the core of which is a secure electronic ID layer on each tag, that can contain extra security features, such as encryption. The ability to authenticate every product package digitally helps to defend against counterfeiting and grey-market trading.

Then, the electronic on-product device layers store smaller amounts of data about the product or changes throughout its life cycle - for example, whether a product has been opened prior to sale (using tamper evident tags) or stored outside the correct temperature range (using smart sensor tags).

Finally, the off-product cloud layer stores large amount of data, and processes new captured data, to inform consumers retailers and manufacturers and trigger actions. This can include product information and data on location, as well as contextual rules for real-time marketing progammes

What can we do with that data?

RFID-NFC solutions can offer multifunctional benefits, depending on the brand's priorities. Brands can be protected and operations controlled with the ability to track, trace and verify the authenticity of a product. Change-of-state monitoring provides product quality assurance, can flag instances of tampering and ambient environmental changes (temperature or humidity, for example) during transit.

Location-based tracking facilitates inventory management, data analytics to protect brands by identifying clusters of counterfeiting and market diversions, and targeted marketing programmes. Through their mobile devices, consumers can be kept informed about the products they buy and brands can engage with consumers through loyalty programmes, after-sales services and ecommerce. The end result is significantly more robust and compelling RFID-NFC applications and solutions, and a measurable return on investment for brands.

What are the latest product news from NXP?

NXP recently unveiled new NFC solutions to capitalise on thetechnology's inherent security and interactive capabilities. Its new NTAG 213 Tag Tamper is a tamper-evident NFC tag that can be placed on a product's label, closure, or container, and its once-opened status information can be accessed with a simple tap of any mobile NFC device, even without an app.

Offering digital signature, tamper evidence, and current status awareness, this NFC tag enables brand owners to protect product authenticity and integrity, while enabling relevant consumer interactions, pre and post-sale.

Which sectors of the industry would benefit most from NFC technology?

NXP is working with many label and packaging firms, as well as full-service solution providers, across many industries, including wines and spirits, speciality foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, household devices.

One partner is Guala Closures, which is launching a new series of mass-scalable safety closures with NFC technology for tamper proofing and anticounterfeiting for the wines and spirits industry.

Paper packaging company Stora Enso is producing NFC-enabled boxes with smart temperature sensors - for example, for fine chocolate - so consumers can confirm that the product has been properly handled for optimum quality, while accessing storage tips and links to social media.

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