Skip to main content

Thinfilm's NFC Stickers Can Tell You When Food Goes Bad

BARCELONA - Sometimes, making something 'smart' is as simple as slapping a sticker on it. A company called Thinfilm developed just that technology, with NFC smart barcode labels that adhere to objects and track things such as temperature and pressure.

At Mobile World Congress 2015, I saw a demo of a Thinflim OpenSense label in action on none other than a Johnnie Walker whiskey bottle. With the NFC technology embedded into the bottle's signature blue label on the back, whiskey imbibers can simply raise their smartphone to the bottle, and a special app from the bottle maker will recognize whether that Johnnie Walker bottle has been opened or not.

When I tried this out, the response was impressively quick, bringing up a message about tasting notes and cocktail recipes for the already open bottle and a promotional message from Johnnie Walker for the sealed one.

MORE: Best Smart Home Gadgets

Through a partnership with a company called Everything, Thinfilm labels can offer constant product monitoring from anywhere. Everything provides a cloud system in which users can monitor data from the labels, wherever they may be and for as long as they like.

Representatives for the company told us that they have partnerships with food distributors, who will use the labels to track food as it ships between destinations. The labels can be programed to sense if the food is getting too hot or too cold, potentially letting distributors save food from spoiling or identifying food that has already gone bad.

The opportunities seem endless with Thinfilm's labels -- from crucial use cases such as pharmaceutical companies tracking temperature-sensitive medications, to fun gimmicks such as Johnnie Walker hosting a giveaway the lucky customer who purchased a specific bottle of Blue Label.

While Thinfilm has mainly been talking to businesses, there are a number of ways consumers could use a product like this in their daily lives. It will be some time before Thinfilm's labels are available for purchase, but, in the future, we could be able to monitor the food in our fridge or the temperature of a baby's bottle with nothing more than a smart sticker.

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.