The NFC Forum has announced its partnership with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association to help develop smart packaging for food and other products. This means that soon, products in supermarkets and other points of sale can be inspected by just tapping it with your phone. Now, the groups involved in this partnership expect early examples of this experiment to include interactive tags and labels that would pull up information about a product on your phone. The groups also say that NFC-enabled time and temperature monitors could be put to early use, possibly allowing grocers to know how long a cut of meat has been sitting out, and whether its temperature has been properly maintained.
That said, NFC presents a lot more hurdles. For example, QR codes can just be printed on a box, while smart packaging with NFC requires electronics and a battery. This is expensive compared to typical product packaging. These issues suggest that NFC-enabled packaging will likely only be used in limited circumstances. For example, it could be used on packaging for higher-end products, or it could be used for bulk packaging. The latter could give people handling inventory more information on what they’re working with.
The two industry groups expect the usage of NFC-enabled smart packaging to become a reality soon. They claim that NFC-enabled packaging will increase at a double-digit annual ate until NFC becomes more commercially feasible for large-volume consumer products instead of for primarily high-value goods. Their hope is that smart packaging will let companies lower costs, reduce wastes and increase profitability. Though, again, the companies will have to do this to a large enough extent to offset the costs of embedding NFC equipment and other sensors all over the place.
In addition to the partnership on smart packaging, the NFC Forum announced a second partnership: one with Wireless Power Consortium to make NFC work better with the Qi wireless charging standard. It is not clear how the two groups see the two standards working together, but they claim the partnership could lead to smaller and cheaper charging devices.