Murata Electronics: NFC creates added value, but the range is limited – will UHF mobile phones be introduced? soon?

Articles | By Murata Elektronik | 24 March 2015
Murata has developed an NFC tag that has package dimensions of 3.2 by 3.2 millimeters and can be integrated during the normal injection-moulding process. This makes it ideal for integration into plastic parts. This means the product can be given a digital ID without using up much space. Murata has developed an NFC tag that has package dimensions of 3.2 by 3.2 millimeters and can be integrated during the normal injection-moulding process. This makes it ideal for integration into plastic parts. This means the product can be given a digital ID without using up much space.

NFC and UHF are enablers for the digital world

Many product manufacturers want to communicate interactively with the consumer. So what could be better than using an NFC-enabled smartphone? If NFC tags are integrated within certain products, new opportunities open up for customer interaction, brand protection or product tracking, explains Alexander Schmoldt, Murata Electronics in his interview. This expert who ‘thinks outside the box‘ describes UHF integration as an alternative to NFC in mobile phones and explains where this will take them.

Alexander M. Schmoldt, Business Development Manager, Murata Elektronik, interviewed by „RFID im Blick“

Product labelling could now have wide-ranging motivations, but the main focus is all about increasing consumer interaction. „We are often asked to integrate NFC tags into products that have a high-quality brand. This is done because reading NFC tags with an NFC-enabled smartphone also creates an opportunity to interact with the consumer,“ says Alexander Schmoldt.

Reading range versus tag-size: how small can the tag be to comfortably read it via NFC?

„We currently build an NFC tag in series and evaluate how small the tag can be so that a satisfactory reading range is granted,“ says Schmoldt. „This relates to the fact that there is no common architecture for NFC readers in smartphones. Primary NFC phones are geared towards a payment function and so the choices are limited. Therefore the solution has to be adapted around specific needs,“ says our expert. Some users may find the touch function sufficient to establish the connection between NFC tag and smartphone; others want a more flexible handling option.

Alexander SchmoldtAlexander Schmoldt„UHF is a clear requirement In the industry. There is generally no good reason to integrate NFC on electronic circuit boards.“

Added value for producers and consumers

The integration of NFC tags in products gives added value for both producers and consumers, Schmoldt is certain. For manufacturers, it would be interesting to know, for example, how often and when and where the product is in use. „It is important that this is done anonymously for data protection,“ says Schmoldt. On the other hand, the user can register with the manufacturer and then, in cases of theft or loss, locate the purchased item by its tag ID. This localisation function is not new. It seems likely that when the user is directed to on-line registration by phone he will receive a voucher or will be able to use additional functions such as product recommendations.“

Legal requirements for product labelling in medicine pushes market demand

Integrated product ID can also be used for tracking and tracing. „In the medical field, it is now essential to have a product ID. This has been driven by the legal requirements for labelling medical devices by Unique Device Identification (UDI) in the USA. We have taken note of this because we are increasingly receiving requests to assign a unique identifier to pharmaceutical products. In sample management there are requests to integrate tags in sample carriers, tubes or boxes,“ says Schmoldt. As there are special requirements in terms of maintaining hygiene and sterility, it makes sense to integrate the tags during production, injecting them into the moulds of sample carriers.

RFID as an enabler for IoT and Industry 4.0

According to Schmoldt, protection against plagiarism is an important issue for industrial producers. There is also the need to use products with integrated RFID tags for process control during production. This also fuelled the topic of industry 4.0: „We live in a time of change. Things are driven by technology. Companies understand that they need RFID. And both NFC and UHF provide a convenient bridge between the physical and the digital world to build new application scenarios,“ says Schmoldt. „In industry, however, UHF-RFID is a clear requirement. It does not generally make sense to use NFC for the circuit board design of electronic products. We see experts very often using small portable readers and linking them via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet. Since these products retain their tag function over their entire life cycle, there is an increasing preference to simply use a smartphone in combination with these devices.“

RFID source tagging in electronics

The UHF-RFID became the favoured technology solution in electronics 18 months ago, reports Schmoldt: „For the first time source tagging was structurally operated in industry. That means products were equipped with RFID right from the beginning, and I dare say that this will become standard.“

Murata works in the consortium „RFID Value Creators“ on this issue with various companies working together. „We have just seen a new class of products on the market that are already equipped with RFID, from production right until the end of their life cycle. This begins with the integration of RFID in production, allows maintenance applications and offers additional functions to do with smartphones. This requires system integration, software and readers for specific functions. We are interested in talking to other companies who would like to work with us in this way.“

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 11:04
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