Thin Film Electronics, a company that makes wafer-thin printed circuits that can be built into packaging materials, and Bemis, a manufacturer of both consumer products and wholesale packaging, have signed an agreement that will add circuits to your cereal box. Or maybe sensors to your salad bags. Or digital intelligence to disposable diapers.
Bemis makes packaging for those products (and more) and by 2014 it hopes to use thin-film, printed electronics to add a few bits of memory and little intelligence to its packaging. This way, manufacturers can track items and consumers can see how fresh their produce or meat might be. The partnership is a big move for Thinfilm, which has been pioneering technology to embed chips into more and more objects.
The Oslo-based Thinfilm has been in business since the mid-90s. It has been manufacturing thin-film memory chips that provide about 20 bits of storage, which were used in toys and games. But it has been adding more memory and has a partnership with Xerox PARC that added transistors to its circuit, thereby giving its chips enough intelligence to track inventory or send environmental data from a sensor back to the network.