Whenever I pick up a package of frozen raw meat from the grocery store, I wonder, “Has this been frozen the whole time? How many times did it thaw and re-freeze?” It’s a disquieting thought, especially because there’s currently no easy way to tell.
But it looks like the ambiguity is about to end. In partnership with PST Sensor, Thinfilm, which produces printed re-writable memory, will begin making the first fully printed temperature sensor systems to monitor perishable items like food and pharmaceuticals.
“It’s a smart object that’s entirely self-contained,” Jennifer Ernst, Thinfilm’s North American VP told Wired.
That may sound familiar. It’s a key element of a concept called “The Internet of Things,” which basically refers to an imagined future where nearly every object will include embedded chips that can store data and interact with networks.
Thinfilm’s first-gen sensors will be able to cache data about the object itself, on the item itself. In this case, the sensors will record data concerning the object’s temperature history, tracking precise time, temperature and exposure information, and also displaying it in a low-power readout. The data within can be accessed as needed, insomuch it doesn’t need to be retrieved from the cloud, or require a constant wireless connection.
In the past, we’ve seen thin food sensors that change color as food begins to spoil. But this type of technology doesn’t retain data, and thus doesn’t provide information about the history of a product as it shipped.
More info here.