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Smart Tags pre-pilots for monitoring food product conditions

EIT Food Smart Tags communication project has progressed into pre-piloting phase with three technical pilots. VTT is in charge of preparing physical smart tags, and all the partners will participate in smart tag evaluation – specifically project’s industrial partners. The three pre-piloting cases focus on monitoring environmental conditions combined with mobile phone based reading.

Temperature logging pre-pilot is based on an ultra-thin smart data logger label demonstrator called T-Tag that VTT has developed and demonstrated earlier (Figure 1). This type of logger can be used to track the temperature of the packaged item to boost sustainable and safe transport as well as storage of temperature sensitive products. T-tag is based on an extremely thin NFC temperature monitoring IC for logging and communication, and indicator LEDs for indication of logging and threshold temperature. Temperature data can be accessed via Android application as an user interface. (See: https://youtu.be/CbMFWoooLcQ)

Figure 1. T-Tag temperature logging label.
Figure 2. Android app for reading temperature data.

The other pre-pilots are based on 2D bar codes that have colour changing areas. Because these types of smart tags are sensitive to environmental conditions, they are dynamic, but they also enable context aware services as each of them can be unique. This enables the achieved information and its meta-information content to change due to the changing environmental conditions when scanning the codes by mobile phone.

Spoiling fish creates nitrogen that can be detected from the package headspace with indicators reacting to changes in environmental conditions (e.g. presence of nitrogen) with visual colour change. VTT has integrated printed nitrogen indicator with 2D bar code in order to implement mobile phone readable smart tags. The reading software can detect colour change in the indicator area and thus direct the user to varying digital content (Figure 2). Integrity of modified atmosphere package (MAP) has been detected in the third pre-pilot with oxygen indicators based on the same technical principle as the nitrogen indicator.

Figure 2. Nitrogen indicator integrated with 2D bar code. The blue bar at the bottom of the code appears when in contact with nitrogen. (Code and reading app from Upcode Ltd.)

For more information on pre-pilots and underlying technologies, contact Senior Scientist Liisa Hakola (liisa.hakola@vtt.fi) at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.