Big New Markets for Small NFC Glass Tags
A new, robust NFC glass tag with one of the smallest form factors in the global marketplace offers embedded tagging to a wide range of new industry segments and applications.
Embedded glass tags are well known for their use for example in animal tagging and identification. Smartrac’s new small form factor ‘Glass Tag NFC’ will extend their use into other industry segments such as retail, apparel, toys and gaming, merchandising, tools and industrial goods, as well as new areas of animal ID.
One significant difference of NFC glass tags versus standard NFC inlays is their robustness and tubular form factor, allowing new ways of embedding NFC tags into physical objects. This can very easily be done in various industrial materials with complete reliability, either through injection molding within plastic components or by insertion into small, predrilled holes, as long as the surrounding material is non-conductive. The NFC glass tags removal is difficult and destroys the tag.
Because they are so small, NFC glass tags can be embedded very discreetly and can be invisible, if required. In addition, they are resistant to water, corrosive chemicals, cleaning agents, varnish and many more substances.
A Whole New World of Applications
Glass tags were initially equipped with LF (low frequency) and designed for animal identification, using specialized reader devices.
Since the new glass tags work with any NFC-enabled smartphone, a virtually unlimited range of applications now becomes possible. In addition to animal tracking and identification, Smartrac’s new Glass Tag NFC will therefore enable applications such as product authentication on both the manufacturer and end user side, brand protection, customer engagement and consumer loyalty and marketing.
Furthermore, the glass tags can enable comprehensive applications to manage products, parts and components throughout a product’s lifetime, such as:
- track & trace throughout the supply chain all the way to the end user, enabling diversion detection to mitigate gray market impact
- providing comprehensive product information at point of sales
- consumer/user authentication for counterfeit protection
- warranty activation and user registration
- displaying product usage guidance, e.g. user manual, safety certificates, etc.
- providing direct user feedback for future product development
- recording maintenance history
- enabling better recycling at end of product lifecycle
New Use Cases for IoT Scenarios
Industrial companies can now easily build NFC technology into their Industrial Internet of Things businesses by integrating product identification into manufacturing processes, the supply chain or even warehouse management. As an example, manufacturers often use tools which are very expensive. An embedded Glass Tag NFC can serve as a source of data about an individual tool’s location, properties, movement, availability and usage history.
On the retail side, for example, sales staff could now inform customers instantly about specific product features or special offers.
End users could benefit from specific digital experiences - by tapping their smartphone on the NFC tag embedded in the product - such as product information, tutorials or product registration. Just think of a flat-pack cabinet or kitchen you would like to assemble: you could easily identify each component with your smartphone and sync it with the construction manual. Of course, pure product identification could be complemented by product authentication and brand protection applications.
Small but Tough
With a diameter of just 2.12mm, 12mm long and weighing a mere 100mg, Smartrac’s Glass Tag NFC is one of the smallest glass tags available in the marketplace today. Resistant to most chemicals, this extremely robust tag can be embedded into a range of new materials such as concrete, plastic or wood, often by insertion into predrilled holes before being sealed in place with synthetic resin or silicone.
Hansjörn Reifschläger, Head of Sales at Smartrac Specialty division, said “Our new, miniaturized Glass Tag NFC offers customers the opportunity to embed a robust NFC tag inside many different types of materials and products. Broadening the use of glass tags beyond their proven field of animal ID and tracking, this new product will offer many more applications for customers wishing to protect their brand, authenticate products or even offer new ways of customer engagement and marketing to end users.”
Glass Tag NFC is available with either an NXP SLIX IC featuring 112 byte user memory and NFC Forum Type 5 Tag compliance, or NXP’s NTAG21x ICs with up to 888 bytes user memory and NFC Forum Type 2 Tag compliance. Data from the chip inside the tag can be read by either a dedicated reader, or via an NFC-enabled smartphone. Typical read range, depending on the use case, is 2-3cm.
Glass Tag NFC is made from biocompatible glass and can optionally be supplied with a Parylene coating for animal tagging use, which anchors the tag in place.
The tags will be available in high volumes from April 2019 onwards.
For further information on Smartrac's Glass Tag NFC, please contact our Sales & Customer Service Team.