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back to article Printable mini-display tech draws power from NFC devices

Cambridge-based PragmatIC has produced an NFC-enabled label with a built-in screen picking up power from the device reading the tag, surely worth £600,000 of anyone's money. The technology involves printing a tag with an embedded Near Field Communications transponder, but one that also incorporates a small screen powered by the …

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Happy

It will be nice to be able to see that your tag has just been read. When will they harvest enough power to drive the optional klaxon and flashing lights?

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Anonymous Coward

nfc with encrypted unique id

Hi, great article (as usual), just one remark: last week I spoke to a dutch company that holds patents on NFC technology with encrypted unique id. Today banks (my line of work) are only concerned about getting connected to the general Public. But the big breaktrhough will be when Manufacturers start adopting NFC. Anticounterfeiting is just one example...

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Go

Oyster balance display

Surely they're already all over TFL with this?

... and pay-as-you-go phone balance too while they're at it.

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If nothing else

It serves as a really useful proof of concept. If they could up the power transfer a little more, maybe they could use NFC as a means of printing personalised train & aircraft tickets.

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Ru
Paris Hilton

What's the point?

People might care when it can be used as a general display; something like an Oyster card that could display its own remaining balance would be nice. If we all use NFC enabled phones then no-one will be interested in this at all.

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As well as letting the reader know that it is valid

It could be useful to let the user know that they have just been read!

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If the display had been a kind of e-ink, so that it was always visible and you changed it in that brief moment of power, then i could see that being very useful.

e.g. you could change the price labels on items without needing to print a new label, just wave your rfid programmer over them (with suitable auth to stop cheeky bargain hunters doing it themselves)

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Happy

Surely-

This is the sort of futuristic thing that things will have in the future?

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Odd that they didn't use a solution based on e-Ink, or similar, tech.

That would allow the display to be permanent, with no fading. The NFC kick would only be required to update it.

Ideal for price labels on store shelves, and even on the packaging of the products themselves. Instead of having to reprint umpteen labels whenever there's a sale on, you just wave your magic NFC wand over the products to update their tags.

This current tech. is pretty good too, but it seems rather limited in its potential applications.

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cool.

you mean like like etch a sketch 2.0

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Meh

In reply to "Ideal for price labels"

They've had electronic shelf labels in Carrefour in France for a couple of years now...

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Boffin

Really cool solution seeks problem to solve

Does this tech mean oyster cards could display a balance on the card every time they are scanned?

And why only a few seconds? if this were using an e-ink display surely the image could be retained until the next scan..

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Anonymous Coward

Oh I have a problem this might help solve

At least if the picture's changeable, you could use it to selectively reveal information tailored to the purpose. Like, "older than 18" in order to enter a club, instead of the full birth date. No names either, but a good-enough quality picture would be useful.

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Thumb Up

Knowing what you're signing for.

If the display can show the price and supplier of what you've just bought and a one line description then you will be able to know what you are signing for using this tech much better than using a current chip and pin card. Also if generic NFC writers which interact with these devices can be made cheap enough, you'll be able to use these tags to make secure Internet payments through an untrusted computer or mobile phone before long, and the bank need not worry that much if your computer or phone is running malware, any more than they need to trust the whole net connection between your computer and theirs. To do that these passive tags will need to be combined with input controls which collect "something you know" as well as being "something you have", but getting rid of the need for contacts and batteries raises this game somewhat.

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Bronze badge

RE: e-ink

I agree, that e-ink would be a much more useful application here, but, consider the size of the screen. Would you be able to get an e-ink screen that small / thin?

Also, although the e-ink would only need power to change the display, how much power would be needed to make that update?

Also (also) you would also need the tech attached to process and update the display.

The display mentioned in the article is (in my mind) like a heat activated transfer (like the ones they used to have on transformers, told you which side your robot was on), the image is (always) there, but is only visible when the power (heat) is applied to it. Changing that to an 'intelligent' display, like update-able e-ink is not likely to be a small task.

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Gold badge
Thumb Up

Very cool and £600k is not much for a development budget.

People have been touting "auto update" price labels in supermakrets for *decades*. It's potential is *huge* as think about all the lines * no of updates * no of stores * staff time saved.

But it's very difficult to bring all the pieces together. AFAIK people who've tried planned to used "smart ballasts" to vary the flicker rate of the fluorescent lights (no it should not be detected by humans).

If this tech can be used with RFID how about a label in your passport (or other RFID enabled bit item that society wants you to carry around) showing when someone last tried to read it?

BTW AFAIK *all* the e-ink displays are either made *specifically* for the product they're fitted in or somewhat bulky rigid plate designs.

I'd *love* an ebook reader I could at least roll up when going somewhere.

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Asterisk

You keep using that symbol. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to have a lie down. I've got stars in my eyes.

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Headmaster

Re: Asterisk

I take it you are unfamiliar with Usenet and other (at least formerly) text-only mediums of communication. Using asterisks around a word or phrase came to mean bold or emphasized, and underscores before and after came to mean underlined.

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Silver badge

PIN Entry

Display a randomized keypad for people to enter the PIN to access the card and you'll save a _lot_ of problems. Or if you do a transfer, display the amount of money on it. Essentially this, and buttons would make NFC usable from a security standpoint.

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Anonymous Coward

7 segment display

Build several of these elements into a 7 segment display, stack the displays next to each other and you have a counter for how many times data has been read/written to the device?

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Be great for dispensing bad news when you swipe your access badge, like: "Welcome back from your 3-hour lunch. You're fired."

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Joke

optional

get them embedded in your skin - that would open up some possibilities.

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Why wouldn't they just use an eInk display??? The image would be permanent and only require induced current to change it. Then these things could be used as shelf tags in supermarkets.

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