Most people tune-in to Apple’s annual keynotes for updates on their favorite products, like the iPhone or Apple Watch. At EVRYTHNG, we got excited about a more low key part of their September announcement — new NFC capabilities! Specifically, Apple revealed their most recent line of iPhones include a feature to make the NFC user experience simpler.
Remember last year, when Apple announced NFC support in iOS 11? This was a step in the right direction, but didn’t quite go far enough. Now Apple has delivered in a bigger way, enhancing the NFC experience on their iPhone XS, XS Max and XR by no longer requiring a mobile app to launch NFC-based mobile experiences.
How does it work?
It’s simple and mimics the way native iPhone cameras read QR codes today. A user taps an NFC tag with their iPhone, even from the phone’s home screen or lock screen. Once the tag is detected, a notification appears on screen and the user can then click on the notification to open the experience, or url, associated with the NFC tag. This creates a streamlined experience for users and crucially removes the dependency on a 3rd party app.
Frictionless consumer engagement
With this development, over 2 billion smartphones can now natively interact with QR codes and NFC tags, without the need for a dedicated app. This is huge in the world of product digitization. It means brands and retailers can offer new digital experiences direct to their end customers, knowing that it’s now even easier for consumers to access product information, reviews, loyalty programs and more.
We’re already seeing an explosion of QR code adoption in the US and Europe since iOS support came out last year. And now we’ll see brands adding NFC to unique items at scale, particularly higher value goods where the marginal, incremental technology cost has minimal impact. From an EVRYTHNG IoT SaaS Platform perspective, we support all and any digital trigger on physical products, ranging across proprietary codes, QR codes, NFC and RFID tags and any type of intelligent packaging.
Apple’s announcement is especially topical, coming so soon after GS1’s launch of the breakthrough new Digital Link which is now driving a global upgrade of the world’s barcodes. It means any physical product can have a unique url, encoded in a QR code or NFC tag, which links to a digital identity in the cloud and enables a raft of supply chain and DTC applications.
Both these recent developments – Apple’s NFC news and GS1’s Digital Link – are critical industry inflection points which accelerate the digitization of the world’s 4 trillion consumer products.
Author Judy Moon
(VP Inside Sales and Customer Success)
Recycling. We all know it’s important but the reality is — it isn’t always easy. And when things aren’t easy for busy consumers on-the-go, even the best intentions get lost in the rush. After all, time is precious.
With this in mind EVRYTHNG has prioritized initiatives in support of a more sustainable future including, recycling.
We’re excited to bring you a much anticipated update to the news we shared last April about our collaboration with Recycl3R. Specifically, our mutual quest to transform the way consumers recycle products. After months of testing and perfecting the app in TheCircularLab, we officially launched a first-of-its kind recycling program in Spain.
For the first time, consumers can receive detailed information on how to recycle all products and packaging using a single app, and be rewarded for their participation. It’s convenient and simple, and through a gamified experience, it drives a new style of behavior.
How does it work?
The app, powered by EVRYTHNG and launched by Carrefour at supermarkets in Spain, is called Reciclaya. The new app allows customers to determine how to recycle individual products by simply scanning the barcode on their supermarket receipt. Consumers follow three simple steps:
Scan shopping receipts to import purchased products into a mobile recycling app.
Sort at home. Through the mobile app, consumers can access information on where, when and how to recycle the different parts of each product based on local schemes.
Recycle items in street bins or preferred recycling centers. Consumers can earn rewards by registering where they are recycling by scanning or tapping identity tags on recycling units.
Consumers participating in the recycling initiative in a Carrefour supermarket in Spain.
It Takes A Village
This new recycling scheme wasn’t born in a vacuum. As part of the European Union’s TagistSmart-Horizon 2020 initiative, EVRYTHNG teamed with industry bodies, local authorities and leading brands including, Carrefour, PepsiCo, Henkel, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, to bring this innovative recycling program to market. By simplifying recycling for consumers, we help the retail industry meet sustainability and green targets.
Click the image to view full infographic.
Our work with Carrefour is among the first deployments at scale, but other brands are jumping on board in real-time.
We’re continuously exploring ways to apply IoT technology throughout the product lifecycle, from sustainable production to more efficient transportation to responsible recycling post-purchase. We’re ushering in a new era of product digitization to drive circular economy initiatives within the consumer goods industry. If you’re a consumer product manufacturer, now is the time to catch the wave.
Since its launch a month ago, we have seen quite a bit of interest around the new GS1 Digital Link standard: the standard connecting all things to the Web! However, standards are always complex beasts and grasping their full powers requires reading lengthy documents.
To help the community understand the powers of the Digital Link, we started by writing a whitepaper. The white paper was well received as a great way to grasp the concepts and use cases of the Digital Link, but how do you get started with experimenting? How do you build prototypes and demonstrators with the new standard today that will convince your team it’s valuable? How do you explore the hundreds of data fields available without having to read the entire standard document?
We had the same problems, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve just released a series of tools that are ideal for quick experimentation and discovery. They don’t replace our enterprise-grade support for the GS1 Digital Link in the EVRYTHNG platform but offer a set of open source tools that allow you to experiment with the Digital Link, independent of the platform you choose to use (although we clearly suggest you use EVRYTHNG as we simply have the best Digital Link support out there 🙂 ).
The other part, the Verifier, checks if a Digital Link is valid according to the standard. This may seem trivial, but it really isn’t, as there are more than 400 rules to be checked. Should your Digital Link be invalid, the Verifier will let you analyze which part isn’t quite standard compliant.
These tools are directly available on https://digital-link.evrythng.com and can be used for experimenting, testing and demonstrating. Moreover, they’re available on GitHub should you want to build new features on the code or embed some parts in your own application.
We hope you’ll enjoy them, and we’re looking forward to the wonderful things you’ll build on top of the Digital Link tools. Now is the time to give billions of products a standard Digital Identity!
PS: A big thank you to the whole Digital Link Working Group at GS1 for their help and feedback on the tools.
The announcement of the new GS1 Digital Link standard – overseen by our CTO and Co-founder Dom Guinard – was a watershed moment for the consumer goods industry as a whole. Whether you are a brand, a packaging company, a logistics firm, or a service vendor, this new standard is likely to have an impact on your business in one way or another.
Hi, I’m Perraine, Director of Product, and my focus is on building out the core features of the EVRYTHNG platform. Part of this set of core features is the GS1 Digital Link. If you haven’t already, you can read our previous blog about the GS1 Digital Link to get a better understanding of what it is. I’ll also give a brief example below.
What is the Digital Link?
In simple terms: the GS1 Digital Link standard defines how to put your packaged goods online. It supports all existing GS1 Application Identifiers, and our Day 1 feature set covers the most important of those identifiers — you can see this page for more information.
Here’s an example of how you’d go about converting a barcode to a digital link. In this case, I’m using an imaginary pair of EVRYTHNG Sneakers – Serialized Edition.
This is a hypothetical EAN-13 barcode on the box of our sneakers:
If I scan that with any 1D or 2D barcode scanner (e.g. Point of Sale, or an app on my Android device, or the native iPhone camera), this is what the hardware and software will see:
Pretty obvious, right? And that’s all. It’s just a 13-digit number. If I want to know what that number means, then whatever application I am using has to know what an EAN-13 represents. If I’m a consumer I guess I could Google that code and see what comes up, but am I going to? No.
Now, here is the GS1 Digital Link equivalent of that barcode generated using our built-in QR code creator:
If I scan this code with any 2D scanner, it sees:
If I use offline Point of Sale software, I can still get the EAN-13 code and register a sale. But it also gives me a Web address. This means if I scan it with a mobile device I can go to that address and get, for example, a Product Information page:
And if I’m scanning this object in the supply chain with a custom app, accessing that link could provide traceability information:
So you can see the dual benefits of the GS1 Digital Link:
In the next section I’ll introduce the exciting new capabilities that we’ve added to the EVRYTHNG Platform in support of the GS1 Digital Link.
Using GS1 Digital Link on the EVRYTHNG Platform
We’ve added the ability to generate GS1 Digital Links within our dashboard so that when you create a new unique item (we call them “thngs”) you can create a GS1 Digital Link in url form and QR code form (which you can print onto your items). This combination will connect your product to the Web and activate it throughout its lifecycle.
You’ll also have the ability to create a redirection to your thng’s Digital Link, which allows you to dynamically control where a URL points to based on a set of business rules.
For example, your QR code could point to different web pages depending on the country it was scanned in, or the age group of the user, or even if a consumer scanned your product as opposed to a member of your supply chain. And all of these interactions are captured on the EVRYTHNG Platform for you to view and analyze.
At EVRYTHNG, we’ve been looking forward to – and preparing for – the point where every physical product is connected to the Web. The GS1 Digital Link brings us one step closer. We’ve learned some valuable lessons about how and why you would want to give your products unique web addresses, and how serializing and authenticating every item unlocks the ability to track things throughout the supply chain and in the hands of your consumers, along with offering value added services that would have been impossible up until now.
Using the GS1 Digital Link on your products enables you to:
Track the unique journey of individual items through the supply chain
Register transactions at point of sale
Offer great direct-to-consumer experiences through the best marketing channel of all — your products!
There’s a lot more on the roadmap, and we’re excited to share more with you as this standard develops. Stay tuned!
We are very excited to announce the ratification of the GS1 Digital Link standard (aka GS1 Web URI), a simple but game changing revolution for the trillions of barcode enabled products across the world. In short, the GS1 Digital Link upgrades barcodes to: 1) be scannable out-of-the-box by consumer phones; 2) be seamlessly connected to the Web by embedding Web addresses instead of just numbers; and 3) ensures there is one standard barcode to address any application vs. a proliferation of barcodes for different applications.
Now is the time for every thing to get connected to the Web! We co-chaired the GS1 Standards Development Work Group that defined this new specification and look forward to sharing more detail in this blog.
At EVRYTHNG we are firm believers in the power of standards: global standards are hands-down one of the best ways to proliferate game-changing innovation at mass scale. Those following EVRYTHNG might recall that in 2015 we contributed the very first draft of the Web of Things standard at W3C which was used as a basis for the upcoming W3C WoT standard. Since then this standard has been widely adopted by big players including, Mozilla.
While the W3C WoT standard allows devices to seamlessly connect to the Web, it overlooks the vast majority of “things” in the IoT — things or products that are not devices such as, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and apparel products.
Consumer product brands are at the core of what the EVRYTHNG IoT platform supports. Our very first application back in 2012 was about giving whiskey bottles a unique digital identity on the Web to allow digital gifting. Since then we have connected close to a billion serialized CPG and apparel products to the Web. And while this is all great — in order to facilitate mass scale adoption — we needed to move beyond an EVRYTHNG proprietary innovation to an open standard. Thus our leading the charge with GS1 to create a new standard allowing every unique product to automatically connect to the Web with a digital identity.
GS1 is the global standards organization responsible for the trillions of barcodes seen on the products we use every day. As a GS1 Solutions Provider, we decided it was time to approach the standards organization with our idea to create a new standard to support Web-based digital identities for everyday consumer products. Thankfully we were greeted with agreement and in turn, were asked to co-chair the working group that developed the new standard. Fast forward a year, dozens of working sessions, prototypes, field tests and we are very happy to announce that the GS1 Digital Link standard has been ratified!
Reading this blog, you are either already one foot out the door on your way to implement GS1 Digital Link for your next product release or you are scratching your head wondering what’s all the hype?
Either which way, I’d like to provide a little more context. To start, please meet a GS1 barcode as it appears on trillions of products, scanned 5 billion times a day.
This barcode has been providing great services to supply chains across industries for 44 years but in the age of IoT, it has two major shortcomings: it is not scannable nor understandable by billions of consumer phones.
This said even while able to scan GS1 compliant (QR) codes, readers still can’t understand what’s encoded in the code. In other words: they have no idea what to do with the series of numbers it contains (usually known as a GTIN in the GS1 world). How do I get authoritative content and services for this code? The new GS1 Digital Link standard resolves this issue by turning all the information contained in the code (and more) into a Web address or URL (aka Web URI). This is truly game-changing because mobile phones and literally every software client in the world, support URLs and know how to use them to access content.
Putting it all together, please meet a GS1 Digital Link Web URI:
Which can be encoded in an on-pack QR code:
Now, go ahead and scan this, either using your iOS camera app or any other QR code reading app on your phone. This will redirect you to a Web experience chosen by the brand. The brand has dozens of options ranging from the provenance of the product, allergy information to rewards, and more.
Brands can also choose to create static redirections or they can make them fully dynamic linked to a specific context (e.g., user demographic, location, time, etc.) using EVRYTHNG’s patented Redirector technology.
This allows consumer product brands to deliver relevant content directly to consumers via a single standards-based code serving multiple applications rather than individual proprietary codes for each application. The power of GS1 Digital Link doesn’t stop here. The new standard also has the power to replace the well-known 1D barcode as more and more Point of Sales (POS) vendors and supply chain partners begin to support it. We are already working with a number of POS vendors and supply chain partners to test this upgrade and will keep you posted. In the meantime, have a look at our detailed whitepaper to understand the full power and structure of the Digital Link.
In Summary: A New Digital Ecosystem
The new GS1 Digital Link standard works with a 2D barcode (e.g., QR code) or NFC tag on packs or labels. Now, every product can have its own digital identity and Web address, upgrading the traditional 1D barcode used on trillions of products for point-of-sale with the new ability to support smartphone interaction, supply chain tracking, authentication and many other applications. EVRYTHNG’s IoT platform, in combination with GS1 Digital Link, make it possible for any product to very simply deliver dynamic digital services directly to consumers based on scan context, and to gather and apply data intelligence for brands, manufacturers and retailers at unprecedented scale.
Quite literally one new standards-based code has the potential to replace all previous codes. We are very excited to be the first platform to support the new GS1 Digital Link standard, read our documentation to get started today!