The "Swiss Army knife of RFID," eAgile’s DualWing combines UHF and NFC frequencies in a single form factor that opens up technology-driven intelligence in the supply chain and interactive options for end users including authentication.
Which technology would you prefer, UHF radio-frequency identification (RFID) for supply chain visibility or near-field communication (NFC) technology for consumer engagement? Due to costs, package space and other limitations, brand owners have had to choose one over the other.
Now eAgile has introduced DualWing, an integrated tag that provides supply chain and consumer engagement opportunities and may simplify an “either one or the other” choice for many applications. It uses a common identification permitting data to be shared or updated by UHF and NFC devices and adheres to the latest ISO standards of both frequencies to provide the robust anti-counterfeiting and validation capabilities.
“By providing the tools that extend the RFID value chain to include the ability for brand owners to immediately interact with the end customer is a milestone event for the entire industry,” says Gary Burns, CEO of eAgile Inc. “The DualWing is the Swiss Army knife of RFID that delivers maximum utility to organizations with minimal impact to existing systems.” Burns also offers up his take on this breakthrough development for Packaging Digest readers.
What applications are center of target for this?
Burns: The DualWing RFID tag’s ability to provide information for both supply chain and end user engagement opens up a range of applications in the consumer product marketplace. One important category is healthcare-based products, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, where access to track-and-trace information is critical to all members of the supply chain. However, any consumer product is good candidate for this technology, from food and beverage to cosmetics.
What’s the status?
Burns: The DualWing will be available in converted formats for wide-scale distribution starting in the fourth quarter. Our experience shows that integration of RFID technologies can take anywhere from months to years, depending on the scale of deployment and the supporting infrastructure. With this in mind, eAgile’s advice is always to begin initial scoping for integration as soon as possible.
What kind of interest have you seen?
Burns: Interest has been strong. Until now, brand owners had to choose either UHF or NFC technologies or make the investment to apply two tags to their packaging to achieve the various functions and benefits of each frequency. Now our clients can have the widest array of benefits available in a single product: authentication, logistics visibility, on-shelf availability, tamper evidence and consumer engagement to name just a few.
How does it work?
Burns: DualWing is part of an overall end-to-end item level intelligent packaging solution called “eSeal.” A good example of one of the possible uses would be if your child is sick and you go to the drug store to purchase an over-the-counter medication. In the drug store aisle, there are many options and the selection process can be confusing. With a DualWing enabled intelligent package you can use your NFC-enabled smartphone to simply tap the product and immediately be connected with the brand owner. The brand owner’s response to the inquiry can be a checklist showing that the product is authentic, is within its expiry date, and is not part of any recall along with dosing guidelines and possible drug interactions or side effects. At the same time, coupons or a rewards program can be presented to encourage initial or repeat sales.
What’s the history behind this and what has been the biggest challenge?
Burns: The patents and development of the intelligent packaging solution go back many years. The biggest challenge was bringing all the elements together in a manner that does not disrupt the current production methods and allows for large-scale adoption of the solution.
What options do customers have?
Burns: DualWing and eSeal are families of products that are made to complement existing methods of packaging, including heat-induction seals, shrink bands and traditional paper and plastics based containers.
This uses standard RFID readers/portals/interrogators? What is the RFID read range?
Burns: Yes, a key development feature of this solution was to be fully EPC and ISO complaint so it will work with most existing RFID infrastructure. Read ranges vary depending of the frequency utilized (NFC or UHF) and the environment and equipment used to read the tag.
What can be said about costs?
Burns: The price point is dependent on the quantity ordered, but is much less than the option of separate inlays in both price of the product and ease of integration.