Fully printable chipless radio frequency identification (RFID) tags may renew supermarket and grocery/convenience industry interest in the technology, after Monash University researchers developed fully printable tags for metals and liquids, including water bottles and soft-drinks cans.

Until now, this hasn’t been possible because the metal and liquids interfere with the technology. The tag can be printed with an inkjet printer and can be read when they are attached to reflective surfaces such as metal cans and water bottles.

This could allow shopping trolley scanning to your mobile phone’s credit card details with payment made as the customer walks through the checkout, making scanning at the checkout and barcodes on packaged goods a thing of the past, according to Monash University researchers.

A trial in Coles Supermarkets failed in 2006 due to signal interference from metals and water.

A research team lead by Dr Nemai Karmakar, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, have been developing chipless RFID tags that can be printed directly onto products and packaging – making it cheaper, smaller and faster than any other tracking system on the market.

Dr Karmakar said the team was believed to be the first to develop fully printable chipless RFID tags on paper and plastics, and the technology could revolutionise the multi-billion dollar RFID market.

?he fact that chipless tags be printed directly onto products and packaging means they are far more reliable, smaller and cost effective than any other barcoding system,?Dr Karmakar said.

?he main challenge that we have overcome is to transfer the technology to paper and plastic while retaining the required printing resolution. Uniquely, the 60 GHz mm-wave tag can handle printing errors and surface variations. It’s very promising indeed in its ability to revolutionise the multi-billion dollar RFID market.?br />

Warren Beaumont

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