RFID playing cards pave way for IoT printed electronics

April 28, 2016

Berlin, Germany. Cartamundi, imec, and Holst Centre announced they have won the Best Product Award at Printed Electronics Europe for their ultrathin plastic RFID technology integrated into Cartamundi’s playing cards. The award jury recognized the potential of this technology to become a game-changer for the gaming industry, as well as for many other printed-electronics applications in the Internet of Things domain.

With economic and form-factor advantages compared to traditional silicon-based technologies, Holst Centre’s and imec’s ultrathin plastic RFID solution is essential to improve and broaden the applicability of electronics seamlessly integrated in paper. This enables Cartamundi to develop connected devices with additional value and content for consumers. At the conference, Cartamundi, imec, and Holst Centre demonstrated an industry-first prototype of the ultrathin flexible RFID chip integrated into a playing card. In each card, the RFID chip has a unique code that communicates wirelessly to an RFID reader, giving the cards in the game a unique digital identity.

Chris Van Doorslaer, CEO, said, “Cartamundi’s ambition to embed wireless RFID tags in games and trading cards products is a ‘game changer’ indeed. The new technology will connect traditional game play with electronic devices like smartphones and tablets. As Cartamundi is committed to creating products that connect families and friends of every generation to enhance the valuable quality time they share during the day, this technology is a real enabler.”

“This is a thrilling development to demonstrate our TOLAE electronic technology integrated in the product of a partner company. TOLAE stands for Thin, Oxide and Large-Area Electronics,” stated Paul Heremans, department director of thin-film electronics at imec and technology director at the Holst Centre. “Our prototype thin-film RFID is thinner than paper—so thin that it can be invisibly embedded in paper products, such as playing cards. This key enabling technology will bring the cards and traditional games of our customer in direct connection with the cloud. This achievement also opens up new applications in the IoT domain that we are exploring, to bring more data and possibilities to applications such as smart packaging, security paper, and maybe even banknotes.”

Steven Nietvelt chief technology & innovation officer, said, “This is Cartamundi at it’s very best: bringing new solutions to the ever creative game developing community. We are convinced the gaming community will be inspired by this technology. It can possibly enhance existing games but also allows for brand new concepts to arise.”

Imec and Cartamundi engineers will now explore the up-scaling of the technology using a foundry production model.

The award recipients credited VLAIO with playing a substantial role by bringing all partners of the project together.

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