Greater IoT Proliferation is Possible Through RFID-Tagged Smart Paper

By Special Guest
Stan Greene, founder and president, Announcement Converters Inc.
November 07, 2016

As technology advances, the demand for practical solutions that processes information will be in demand by both the public and private sector. A new generation of paper that does more than its name suggests just may be the next big thing in the IoT revolution.

Paper is one of the most ubiquitous materials on the planet. As a medium, it can assist the IoT world by being implemented with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), which can turn normal paper into a responsive medium of communication. Its applications include supply chain inventory tracking, as well as retail and warehouse storage. The thin, low-cost tags can also be printed onto currency, legal documents, and concert tickets, helping to combat counterfeiting.

Responsive Paper
This unique medium has sensing capabilities and operates just like the sensor on your phone screen, communicating gestures such as touching, tapping, swiping, or sliding to a remote computer. The small RFID tags are what make the paper smart, adding the interactive component to what previously was just a normal piece of paper. The tags are relatively inexpensive (about $0.10 per tag) and stick to the paper just like a sticker, carrying information while responding to complex hand gestures.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID was originally developed in 1948 and was used to differentiate between enemy and friendly aircraft. However, the tech has gotten a facelift by Disney Research at Carnegie Mellon University. Google researchers from the University of Washington are also working on this technology, which aims to take the RFID component and integrate it into paper known as PaperID. Currently, the material has the ability to sense 7 types of signals, similar to the way our hands send signals when interacting with a phone. A signal is associated with a set algorithm which is then attached to a gesture such as raising the volume on your computer or dimming the lights in a room. Eat your heart out Johannes Gutenberg!

Applications: What are the uses of this paper?
As mentioned, the tags are relatively inexpensive, costing about $0.10 per tag. They do not require batteries; however, a reader device will need to be set in the room in which the smart paper is being read. This RDIF enabled smart paper provides its users with a new way of linking the virtual world with the real world.

This paper is ideal in combating counterfeit money and counterfeit documents and bills. They can be used to aid counterfeiting in a variety of industries including:

  • pharmaceuticals (medicine)
  • containers and packages (supply chain)
  • Currency, banknotes, bonds (finance) 
  • important certificates, high-security documents (legal and government)
  • Event and concert tickets (entertainment)

In fact, the Bank of Japan and the European bank are signaling their intention to develop such technology to be used on their currency. This up and coming product is the result of years of scientific research and experiments. Although smartphones and desktops - as they are now - are able to provide us faster and more precise interaction with the digital world, the medium of paper offers another diversification opportunity, both for inventors, researchers and investors. Smart paper with RFID technology is still in its infancy, but with large players like Google, Disney, and Carnegie Mellon working on it, this technology is one to keep your eye on.

About the Author: Stan Greene is the founder and president of Announcement Converters Inc. a specialty paper supplier. Before founding the company in 1972, he served in the U.S. Naval Air Force Reserve, graduated with an MBA from Columbia University, and worked on Madison Avenue in an advertising agency.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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