TNO and imec develop tag that communicates via touchscreens

Scientists from imec and TNO have developed flexible tags that communicate via capacitive touchscreens. According to the makers, the C-touch tags have advantages over nfc and rfid variants.

The C-touch tags are thin and flexible, and are said to be inexpensive to integrate into, among other things, paper and plastic. Compared to rfid, no external antenna is required. The antenna is part of the chips themselves, so the tags can be a lot smaller. The advantage, according to the maker, is that the tags communicate via existing touchscreens, without requiring additional hardware, such as readers at nfc.

Imec and TNO foresee that the tags can be used for board games, among other things. For this application, the institutes are working together with game maker Cartamundi. In addition, it is expected that C-touch can be used to secure payment cards. In further development, the researchers will focus on improving performance and enabling back-and-forth communication with touchscreens.

The 12bit capacitive tags support data transfer at 36bit per second at a voltage of 0.6V. The antenna consists of 439 transistors and takes up an area of ​​0.8cm². The antenna dissipates 31nW of energy at a voltage of 600mV. The researchers have published the details of their work on the tags in the scientific journal Nature Electronics under the title Touchscreen tags based on thin-film electronics for the Internet of Everything.