Thinfilm Electronics has announced the first proof-of-concept prototype of an integrated printed electronic tag based on rewritable memory. The printed electronic label consisting of printed memory, sensor and logic detects that critical temperature thresholds have been exceeded and records data digitally for later retrieval and display.
Such labels can deliver item-level tracking of quality data for goods including pharmaceuticals and perishable foods. The Thinfilm integrated system shows how low-cost, disposable printed electronic technology will provide information about product history based on data stored in Thinfilm Memory.
“Integration of functionality is one of the most compelling benefits of printed electronics,” comments Raghu Das, IDTechEx. “Demonstrating an integrated, interactive prototype tag is a significant commercial breakthrough for the printed electronics industry. The Thinfilm system prototype shows that multiple electronic functions can be delivered on an electronic, disposable tag.”
Three different printed devices: memory, logic, and temperature sensor were shown to work together sensing a temperature threshold and writing to memory. The gathered data triggered a display through external circuitry to illustrate the tags’ expected commercial functionality. Integrating memory, logic, sensors and displays using printed circuitry is critical for the delivery of cost-effective, mass-produced printed electronic devices.
“The promise of printed electronics rests on its ability to catalyse the coming technology wave often referred to as the Internet of Things,” says CEO of Thinfilm Davor Sutija. “Making electronics ubiquitous requires not only cheap components but also ways of integrating them. The ability to store, process and communicate local information makes ordinary objects aware of their environment. These smart objects become our agents, gathering actionable data, and displaying it when we need to get involved. Whether sensing temperature or communicating other hazards, Thinfilm sensor tags follow the product to the last mile in applications where conventional electronic measurement systems often cannot be deployed either because of cost or a lack of tailorability to individual product packaging.”
The Thinfilm Temperature Sensor prototype integrates components developed by several Thinfilm eco-system partners. PARC led development of the organic logic circuitry within design rules and functional specifications provided by Thinfilm. PST Sensors provided the fully printed thermistor, and ACREO supplied the electrochromic display.
“This demonstration is a key step towards Intelligent Packaging and contributes directly to the Bemis Intelligent Packaging Platform that we are creating with Thinfilm,” says Don Nimis, president of Shield Pack, a division of Bemis Company, one of the world’s leaders in food and medical products packaging. “Intelligent Packaging will help Bemis customers monitor the quality of their products individually and consistently.”
Additional circuitry including a timer function and wireless communication will be added to the system. Commercial availability is expected by the end of 2014.