Thin Film Electronics ASA announced on Thursday technology partnerships with three providers of NFC-reader hardware – Socket Mobile, Famoco, and SpringCard. Each partner is collaborating with Thinfilm to bring Thinfilm-validated, enterprise-ready NFC readers to the market and help position NFC as an enabling technology for a range of applications within the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) space.
Together, these partnerships allow enterprises to easily integrate Thinfilm NFC technology with installed desktop, embedded, and mobile infrastructure, including iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices.
IIoT is primarily focused on adding connectivity, sensors, and software to factories and other industrial/commercial properties such as parking garages, logistics/shipping facilities, power plants, airports, shopping malls, and hospitals. In factories, the McKinsey Global Institute forecasts a $1.2 to $3.7 trillion economic impact of IIoT by 2025.
Beyond investments in machinery and analytics, the IIoT has implications related to the physical items that help an industrial or commercial facility run smoothly – including service items and consumables such as lightbulbs, chemicals, filters, and batteries. To maximize the benefits of the IIoT both inside the factory and in the downstream supply chain, these essential items can be integrated with Thinfilm’s NFC SpeedTap tags. This integration adds simple wireless connectivity and identifiable intelligence to a wide range of physical items that can be read using pre-validated, enterprise-ready NFC-reader devices.
NFC-enhanced items can enable a range of IIoT use cases with a single tap to a reader device to verify industrial supplies and other items to ensure that the right parts, consumables, ingredients, and/or refills are being used with the right machines; manage consumables and instantly reorder expired or depleted stock via streamlined, frictionless e-commerce integration; report and manage quality issues with item-level precision; facilitate product recalls; and secure supply chains with track and trace visibility, gray market activity detection, and end-user product authentication.
Socket Mobile, headquartered in Silicon Valley, is a vendor of handheld Bluetooth-connected barcode scanners supporting logistics, healthcare, life sciences, retail, and government applications. The company’s first NFC-enabled model – the D600 – adds Thinfilm NFC tag reading capabilities to Bluetooth-connected iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices that are already deployed throughout enterprises.
Enterprises gain access to Socket Mobile’s SDK to build mobile applications that allow factory employees, logistics workers, and inspectors to use the D600 to rapidly, conveniently, and ergonomically read NFC tags with a wireless handheld reader. Thinfilm NFC tags have been fully validated with the D600 reader, which will be widely available in the second half of 2017.
SpringCard, based in Paris, France, is a manufacturer of RFID and NFC reader hardware for access control, public sector, logistics, and security markets. Thinfilm tags have been fully validated with a variety of SpringCard products, including NFC reader modules that can be implemented throughout a production line for inspection, sorting, and shipment stages.
Outside the factory, USB-connected SpringCard readers enable frictionless NFC integration throughout a business, including customer-facing retail applications that support loyalty programs and customer service. SpringCard NFC reader hardware is currently available in market.
Famoco, also based in Paris, is a recognized innovator in the design of enterprise-ready Android handheld NFC smart devices used in field process management, tracking, hospitality, and ticketing applications. Famoco devices feature full-color touchscreens and, due to their minimal street value, can be assigned to production staff, quality control, customs inspectors, and other employees as a remotely managed and affordable alternative to smartphones.
Thinfilm tags have been fully validated with the latest generation of Famoco’s FX-series readers, which are commercially available today.
“Just as brand marketers use NFC to add smartphone interactivity to everyday consumer products, industrial users can use NFC to streamline factory operations and protect supply chains,” said Davor Sutija, Thinfilm’s CEO. “Thinfilm’s technology partnerships with Socket Mobile, Famoco, and SpringCard – established leaders in the NFC reader hardware space – allow industrial users to implement NFC at any stage of operations while leveraging deployed IT infrastructure. This simplifies the creation of turnkey systems that will expand the basic IIoT into a comprehensive ‘Industrial Internet of Everything’.”