Scandinavian packaging giant Mreal, with technology developer VTT Technology and Panipol, are collaborating in trials in Finland of their process of printing an RFID pattern directly onto packaging, with no silicon chip, or even transistor, being involved. Details are secret, other than the fact that the electronic pattern is printed using the conductive polymer polyaniline. This ink is used by Panipol to make antistatic and RF shielding packaging material and mouldings. Dubbed "HIDE" this "hidden printable memory for consumer packaging" is claimed to be compliant with the EPC standards being subsumed into existing ISO standards and it can be "manufactured with industry standard production processes". The polyaniline forms a "memory element".
The current design is 96 bits - meeting EPC requirments - and is only limited by the size of the tag. Making the tag bigger means more data bits. Mreal and Panipol are also looking at squeezing more bits into a certain space unit at the same time.
The package or reader have to move for the data to be captures and range is only a few centimeters. However, it is a sign of the future. Remember when barcoded labels gave way to barcodes being printed as a part of the regular printing of graphics? RFID is going the same way - eventually. During 2005, the "production scale-up pilot" is being completed and the product will be available for industry assessment in 2006.