I'd like to hear about the solution's possibilities for real-life applications within the packaging sphere.
SS: Bluetooth tags can be embedded into consumer products and packaging at the production phase, to facilitate real-time tracking throughout the manufacturing, distribution, and retail process, being scannable for critical information at every stage from the warehouse to the store.
We see apparel as being the most likely sector for early adoption - the tag could be embedded in the garment care label to enable tracking through the supply chain and also communication of vital information (such as care instructions, wardrobing recommendations, or proof of authenticity) in a digital format long after the printed label has faded or other assets been lost or thrown away.
FM: This technology has wide cross-sector applicability. The time and temperature sensing capabilities, for instance, mean that distributors and retailers of fresh food or certain pharmaceutical products can accurately monitor how long items have been stored outside of their optimum temperature, and whether they need to be withdrawn from sale as a result.
What does the tag offer with regards to traceability? What are its benefits compared with other technologies on the market?
SS: It enables much more accurate traceability of products at the item level, both through the supply chain and when they are in consumers’ hands.
At the consumer end, for example, it enables consumers to check whether or not the product they have is the genuine article - a significant concern when the economy around counterfeit goods is so large. It also helps track lost or stolen products, without having to apply a dongle with limited battery life.
What are the possibilities for consumer-engagement? How can brands leverage its potential?
SS: The consumer engagement opportunities are extremely wide-ranging: from the simple - such as providing digital access to vital information such as garment care instructions, an appliance user manual, or confirmation of authenticity - to the more sophisticated, such as enabling reordering of products or detecting when you’ve put something red in the wash with your whites and stopping the machine from running.
Is this the future for connecting products (and brands to the consumer) through packaging? How may other cutting-edge technologies be able to interact with this device? (for example smart fridges/ washing machines?)
SS: We’re all too familiar with the notion of the smart fridge that alerts you when you’re running out of milk, or even provides a prompt to add more to your online shopping list. That sort of thing is certainly possible, thanks to the pressure-sensing capabilities.
But imagine your washing machine alerting you - and even refusing to start a wash cycle - because you put something bright red in with your whites. With the level of product information stored and transmitted by this tag, and the ability to communicate with smart appliances over Bluetooth, that’s very much the sort of integrated application of the technology we are looking at. As the IoT expands and more and more devices are connected the more they will be able to interact with this type of device.
As the chip is able to draw power from WIFI networks by placing it near smart fridges it can tell you what food you have available and even in the future provide potential recipes with what is in your fridge at that time. For clothes it can tell your washing machine if you might be mixing colours and whites and so stop you from turning your white clothes pink.