Smart labels , also known as smart tags , are ultra-flat passive RFID transponders that are attached to a film together with an antenna ( inlay ). This film is wound up on rolls and can be processed like paper. In particular, it can be laminated between layers of paper and thus integrated into conventional labels (hence the name). Integration in chip cards is also possible . Other frequently used terms are disposable transponders , intelligent paper .
In many processes of logistics is barcode as an important auto-ID established technique. Mostly it is either printed directly on the packaging of the objects (e.g. in retail stores) or on a label that is then stuck to the object (e.g. in the case of pallet labeling). Radio Frequency Identification ( RFID ) has properties that are superior to barcodes in some ways, e.g. B. contactless reading. However, their design is a hindrance, they have a relatively large volume and are comparatively unwieldy and difficult to attach. A transponder can be integrated into existing processes much more easily if it has similar properties to the labels used. The smart labels were developed from this idea and in the course of the progressive miniaturization of the components.
What is new is not the RFID technology , but the production processes, so that the functionalities of the products and the target markets are essentially new.
Smart labels are available for different frequency ranges (HF, UHF, mostly 13.56 MHz). They communicate with the reader via inductive or electro-magnetic coupling. A battery is not necessary as the energy supply, since the required energy is taken from the field of the reader, based on the principle of induction , similar to a transformer . The chip used is also cheap in mass production. This results in attractive prices for the smart label with relatively good performance.
Smart labels can combine the two auto-ID technologies barcode world and RFID . Firstly, they can be processed in a similar way to paper labels and can therefore also be used anywhere that has been labeled up to now. Second, they can be manufactured at prices that enable applications in the mass range and, in particular, single-use applications in the first place.
In the future, the use of smart labels should make sense wherever combined solutions enable increased benefits, cost savings and / or system solutions. Combined solutions require thin transponders that can be printed in the application. In addition, the transponder is flexible. If these requirements are met, it is possible to integrate the technology into existing processes.