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Freedom from Scratches by Conventional NFC Tags
May '11
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology together with Seibersdorf Laboratories developed the first textile Near Field Communication (NFC) tag and implemented it in textiles.

AIT has been researching on implementing textile sensors into medical textiles and devices since 2007, in order to make new non-invasive measurement and monitoring solutions possible.

“A textile-based powering and communication solution able to read out information and data from the textile sensors was the main objective," divulges Mr Manfred Bammer, Head of Business Unit (AIT Health & Environment Department, Biomedical Systems), speaking exclusively to Fibre2fashion.

He mentions that only printed or foil based NFC tags are available on the market. Such tags scratch the surface of the body, which is a concern. “So our idea was that a textile solution would do the job much better and could be integrated into existing textile processes,” he highlights.

He also assures that in the initial testings, the tags were cleaned in a washing machine (60°C), machine dried and ironed with a conventional electric iron. This procedure did not impact the functionality of the textile tag.

Further detailing, Mr Bammer says that the development of these new tags involved two challenges. The first was whether there would be performance issues involved in the tag being positioned so close to the human body. The second was how to design the tags so that they would still be read even if they were bent around the wearer's body. “AIT and Seibersdorf Laboratories have conducted extensive testing on this and found that, although bending does affect the reading distance, it is not to a detrimental level,” he confirms.

The new tags use standard NFC RFID chips that are attached to a textile antenna manufactured from thin conductive yarn. The antenna is integrated into the fabric during the textile production process but the NFC chip currently needs to be attached by hand.

“This last process step could also be automated in the future,” the Head accentuates.

Explaining its area of applications and benefits for the textiles sector, he avers, “It shows the realization of technology fusion between intelligent yarns and electronics in reality.”

The tag according to him can be used to provide a link to the manufacturer's website or even to promote further purchases via discount coupons. Other potential applications range from storing business card information, washing and drying information or marketing information to tracking during transportation and for the prevention of brand counterfeiting. It could also be used for personalized work wear or even preventing stealing of garments.

Besides that, it can be used in the medical area, e.g. nursing of patients with memory problems like early dementia, or for fun and leisure for kids, teenagers and youngsters who can exchange information via textile NFC tags.

“The new textile tags could be used 'anywhere'where it makes sense to save information in clothes,” concludes Mr Bammer.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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