Electronics devices and circuits have become increasingly miniscule, allowing all kinds of goods and products to become connective – powering the Internet of Things. But now they’re also set to become more flexible – literally – with the first flexible integrated circuits (FlexICs) being brought to market by PragmatIC.
Scott White sees an application for his company’s FlexICs in the supply chain, to be assembled into inlays and tags, at a price point up to 80% lower than conventional silicon-based solutions. These flexible integrated circuits could revolutionise supply chain and stock control, allowing companies to identify and track products from manufacture throughout their life cycles, even until a product ends up in the refuse or recycling.
Along the way there are numerous opportunities to drive further efficiencies and cost savings, as well as improve the customer experience when they interact and buy the product. Low costs, usability and the scalability of RFID and NFC flexible integrated circuits makes stock management solutions accessible to many businesses; whereas current RFID and NFC stock management technology is expensive and therefore only feasible for high value products.
Instead of just tagging high value products, they can also be tagged with a FlexIC, so that its manufacturer knows exactly where it is at any given time.
Flexible Integrated Circuits Applications
Flexible integrated circuits can be used in the following ways (this is not an exhaustive list, there are numerous applications that have yet to be explored):
- Supply chain – tracking products throughout manufacture and delivery, resulting in fewer products being lost
- Stock control – improved stock management means that products should not go out of stock
- Customer experience – potential to provide customers with information on their smartphone, such as reviews, promotions, recipes and recommendations prior to purchase and afterwards
- Marketing – data collected from products enabled with FlexIC could provide insights to give stores marketing opportunities before customers even purchase them. For example, data that shows a customer picked up the product, tried it on in the changing room etc.
- Customer loyalty – packaging with a flexible integrated circuit could potentially provide data when it’s in the customer’s home. Such as sending a notification to their smartphone when it’s about to pass it’s use by date, or a reminder to purchase a replacement when a customer disposes of it
To date, the Internet of Things (IoT) has typically referred to the electronic products we have in our homes and offices, and how these interact with our devices. Flexible integrated circuits open up a new mass market where non-electronic products can also become part of the IoT with technology that is imperceptible in its packaging.
As an electronics contract manufacturer, we work with companies and entrepreneurs to get their products to market and therefore actively seek out innovative technology to help them achieve their goals. New developments like flexible integrated circuits have many applications and we will be watching this space with interest, and advising our clients accordingly. To explore our product realisation and IoT services, click here.