December 11, 2020 By PrintAction Staff
Andrew Wong is the manager of market development, Innovation Solutions Group at Jones Healthcare Group, a developer of packaging solutions for highly regulated industries such as healthcare and cannabis. We spoke with Andrew about why a company would choose near field communication (NFC) packaging technology and how it helps engage customers.
Why implement NFC technology?
AW: For Jones Healthcare Group, implementing new technology or innovation is always geared toward solving problems in response to market and consumer needs. We view NFC in the same lens – NFC on product packaging or labels is particularly useful for anyone looking to encourage a desired behaviour outcome; know consumers’ or patients’ wants, requirements and behaviour; and fully understand a product’s lifecycle.
How does NFC technology work in medication packaging? What are some other applications that it can be used for?
AW: NFC can help address common business problems for medication packaging such as anti-counterfeiting, dosage/usage instructions and adherence. What’s exciting about NFC is one single tag on a package or product can execute all these applications.
NFC works through a tap interaction, such as tapping a smartphone to a package. When an NFC reader is placed near an NFC tag, it can trigger a smartphone to launch a webpage or app, make a phone call, or record information into a database or digital ledger, for example.
Consider a pack of multi-vitamins with an embedded NFC tag. With a quick tap of a smartphone, a consumer can be served a digital experience with the following:
- A message saying the pack is authentic. NFC provides a secure level of authentication unmatched by traditional tamper labels or holograms. Thanks to backend server authentication, even if an NFC is duplicated, only the original tag will display the “authentic” message.
- Additional product information and brand messaging, including usage instructions, promotional videos about the benefits of the product and more.
- A dosage tracking application, which allows consumers to tap onto the pack every time they take a vitamin. Adherence metrics could even be displayed to the consumer with aspects of gamification to encourage consistent use.
Now consider every time a consumer taps onto that pack of vitamins, the brand receives data corresponding to that interaction. This may include time and location of interaction, length of interaction, what occurs during that interaction, the specific device interacting with the product, as well as the unique identifier encoded into each NFC.
This means brands and manufacturers can uncover where/when interactions occur, who is interacting, what that interaction was, as well as which exact product (not just SKU, but exact serialized product) with which the person interacted.
As the march toward regulated serialization expands around the globe, each NFC tag can also act as a serialized code thanks to its unique ID. This means brands can serialize products without adding printed codes, plus they can amortize the cost of serialization with an NFC tag that can also improve consumer safety, engage consumers and provide valuable item-level interaction data.
How does transmitting printed electronics work?
AW: Through a proprietary printing process developed with support from the National Research Council of Canada, we can use traditional printing methods to print conductive inks onto common packaging materials like paperboard as part of our CpaX™ connected packaging offering.
At the moment, we are using this printing technique on our Electronic Medication Adherence solution. We print circuit patterns across the top of each blister cavity of a disposable medication package, and connect that disposable blister card to a reusable monitoring device. It sends electronic pulses through the printed circuit and can detect in real time whether medication has been removed from a blister cavity. We can add printed electronics to disposable packaging at price points conducive for mass deployment.
We have even developed an NFC version of our medication adherence solution. The difference is that instead of persistent monitoring through printed electronic circuits, the NFC version involves a user tap interaction to confirm dosage. This is a great way to facilitate behavioural change. The upside of the NFC medication adherence solution is we can integrate this into almost any medication dispensing format, such as inhalers, syringes, standard pharmacy vials, etc. It also comes at a price point more conducive for mass deployment.
How does connected packaging help engage customers?
AW: At Jones, we’ve been developing and refining our NFC packaging integration capabilities for the past several years through our CpaX™ connected packaging offering. We believe our ability to facilitate high-speed integration of NFC and other electronic tags into packaging formats will play an integral part in the future connected packaging ecosystem.
Andrew’s responses were edited for length. For more Q&A Spotlight interviews, please visit www.printaction.com/profiles.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2020 issue of PrintAction.
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