Since its founding, EVRYTHNG has been actively involved in European R&D as a partner in innovative projects under the European research framework program. This has given rise to a number of initiatives, including the Web Thing Model proposal, the basis of the W3C Web of Things work, from EVRYTHNG and the partners of the COMPOSE European Project.
Recently, as part of the Horizon 2020 EU research program, EVRYTHNG and 14 other entities were awarded a grant to explore the use of functional inks and printed NFC tags with sensoring capabilities to create SmartTags. This research project, called TagItSmart, seeks to understand how these tags will revolutionize product lifecycle management in FMCG.
What Is TagItSmart
The TagItSmart project is a collaborative effort among 15 partners from across Europe, all with a strong background in both research and Internet of Things market and applications.
In a nutshell, TagItSmart is a Smart Tags-driven service platform for enabling ecosystems of connected objects, with a focus on a category of goods that seems to escape the tendency toward full individuating at item-level: fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).
While barcodes identify types of products, they don’t identify individual items. NFC (Near Field Communication) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) solutions are gaining traction throughout the value chain, but they are still expensive for FMCG items. Therefore, TagItSmart is looking into the use of dynamic QR codes—which are printed on the product items and that change according to selected environmental parameters (e.g. temperature, humidity, intensity of lights), potentially enhanced with printed NFC tags and sensors.
Using these codes, we are able to create a value model that allows all stakeholders—from factory to recycling, from producer to individual customer—to not only track and trace any item in the process, but also to provide additional information about the item that can be of use for other stakeholders. This includes giving individual feedback to a producer, requesting a new product based on individual taste and alerting retailers and producers that an item is close to its best before date or that it’s being disposed of (in a recycling bin) as it should.
Building an Ecosystem Around SmartTags
The EVRYTHNG IoT Smart Products Platform is being used to pilot different use cases that explore the creation of an ecosystem around these SmartTags and the lifecycle of products. In our participation with TagItSmart, we are anticipating the full effect of all FMCG being individually addressable and enhanced with affordable sensoring tags, and we are interested in building a large ecosystem, spanning a diverse set of sectors and application domains.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the key enabler in this: the IoT and the circular economy are both about a complete system reinvention, and they are both about smart, informed management of assets. Pioneering companies used circular design well before the digital era, but now with the use of IoT technology, the game changes entirely: it creates the data- and feedback-rich systems that allow circular designs and business models to thrive.