Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Taiwan-Japan collaboration creates batteryless RFID tag

Steve Rogerson
April 11, 2017



A collaboration between Japanese company Toppan Printing and Taiwan e-paper display (EPD) firm Pervasive Displays has created a batteryless tag with integrated RFID functionality for logistics and inventory management.
 
Designed to replace both paper labels and RFID tags, the tag combines an EPD module and programmable RFID tag. Users can update a device’s EPD and RFID tag data at the same time using a smartphone or NFC reader and writer. The low power consumption device doesn’t have a battery and works off harvested RF energy supplied from the RFID reader and writer.
 
The combination of an EPD and RFID in a single device allows these tags to streamline inventory management, manufacturing and logistics operations. Both the human- and machine-readable data can be updated at the same time without the inconvenience of maintaining separate paper and RFID labels.
 
Pervasive Displays’ Aurora Mb EPD modules are claimed to be the lowest power consumption displays on the market, requiring 2mA current during display update operations. This power consumption means display updates can be powered by harvested energy from NFC, RFID, solar or thermal sources
 
“Our new RFID-enabled EPD tags combine the human readability of an e-paper display, the machine readability of RFID and the ease of use of batteryless NFC technology,” said Shinji Ooi, general manager of Toppan’s business development centre. “This creates all-in-one labelling ideal for logistics, warehousing and inventory management. We were able to create this device thanks to the low-power EPD technology from Pervasive Displays.”
 
Unlike traditional active matrix LCDs, e-paper technology is bistable, meaning no power is required to maintain the image on the tag. Additional power savings are made because a backlight is not needed to read the reflective display.
 
“The low power consumption characteristics and bistable nature of e-paper technology has made it possible to make these remarkable, batteryless devices using EPDs,” said Scott Soong, CEO of Pervasive Displays. “We’re delighted to have worked with Toppan Printing on this product.”
 
Pervasive Displays designs, manufactures and markets e-paper displays for applications requiring high resolution, good readability and low power consumption. The company focuses on commercial and industrial applications including retail, logistics, healthcare, security and manufacturing.
 
Its TFT, integrated circuit and e-paper platforms are said to reduce risks and improve product value. The company provides standard and custom displays as well as technical support through an ecosystem of partners. Design resources include product specifications, application notes, reference designs, source code and applications support. The company is based in Tainan City, Taiwan, and has offices in the Netherlands and Oregon, USA.
 
Founded in 1900 in Tokyo, Toppan in the fiscal year ended March 2016, posted revenues of ¥1474bn and ended the year with around 47,000 employees. Since 2001, it has worked on the commercialisation of electrophoretic EPDs, enabling the launch of the E Ink e-reader in 2004.