Interviews Dr. Manfred Mueller, COO of Identiv In our recent discussion with Steven Humphreys, CEO of Identiv we talked about the market drivers for Identiv’s recent success in the physical access, smart card reader, and credential arena, specifically through the company’s strong customer relationships with the U.S. federal government and recently launched video intelligence solutions with the acquisition of 3VR.

Today, we’re delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Dr. Manfred Mueller, COO of Identiv. Thank you for joining us, Manfred. In our recent talk with Steve, we touched the surface of what Identiv’s team of experts is focusing on in the design and manufacture of embedded high-frequency (HF) and ultra high-frequency (UHF) transponders for objects, such as medical devices, books, toys, athletic apparel, and perishable food items and pharmaceuticals. We learned that Identiv’s radio-frequency identification (RFID), near-field communication (NFC), and inlay portfolio of solutions feature various transponder form factors, including dry inlays, wet inlays, labels, tickets, and more. It sounds like like these transponders are uniquely positioned to deliver RFID connectivity to any object in the Internet of Things (IoT) market and that applications range from brand authenticity, consumer engagement, and item level tracking to tamper detection, and embedded sensors. Is that correct?

Dr. Manfred Mueller: Thanks so much for having me. Yes, you’ve definitely done your homework here. That’s an excellent overview of how Identiv is currently positioned in the market. Our transponders are powering the IoT. We’re dominating the NFC and mobility space, access and transport, events and leisure, library applications, gaming and vending, loyalty and payments, strong authentication, and health and pharma. Specializing in custom design, our tag portfolio covers anything and everything our customers can dream up. That includes HF and UHF inlays, standard and Tag on Metal labels, tickets for transportation, ski lifts, events, and more, tokens for transit and asset tracking, and library labels for books, CDs, DVDs, and tablets. We build miniaturized labels for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, giant NFC transponders, NFC stickers for mobile devices, and our uTrust Sense Temperature Tracker tracks the temperature of practically anything. Can you dive into a bit more detail about the award-winning uTrust Sense Temperature Tracker? We recall it won “Best New Product” in the 11th Annual RFID Journal Awards during RFID Journal LIVE! 2017.

Dr. Manfred Mueller: That’s correct. Frost & Sullivan also awarded it the “New Product Innovation Award” in North America. The uTrust Sense Temperature Tracker is basically a compact datalogging NFC smart sensor that tracks and stores temperature readings in the IoT. It empowers businesses by providing a low-cost, self-adhesive temperature monitoring solution for virtually anything. The data can be read locally by your mobile device or uploaded to the cloud for analytics and remediation. The tracker contains a precise temperature sensor, digital storage, flexible battery, and NFC tech. It communicates with local devices using a mobile device or industrial equipment app. The current temperature status and complete logged history can be reviewed locally or uploaded to the cloud. So, it’s ideal for the supply chain industry?

Dr. Manfred Mueller: That’s where a great deal of interest is coming from, like traceability and cold chain monitoring for perishable foods, flowers, and wine. But it’s also game-changing for healthcare and pharma — from medical equipment to drugs, vaccines, and blood — government applications, and smart packaging. Now that sounds like innovation. What else are you excited to share with our readers?

Dr. Manfred Mueller: We are just about to launch a product aimed at tamper-detection and anti-counterfeiting, and I’m happy to give you all a sneak preview. Identiv’s Tamper-Proof RFID Label integrates a state-of-the-art aluminum-etched antenna and an innovative, tamper-proof release coating. The antenna bridge is guaranteed to destruct after the label is torn from any applied surface, including glass, paper, plastic, and other non-metal environments. The cost-effective design renders it impossible to tear off the complete antenna or label; once torn from an adhered surface, the label is no longer functional and cannot be reassembled.

The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) estimates that counterfeit goods equate for nearly 5 – 7% of world trade, approximately $600 billion. In a report released this year, P&S Market Research values the global anti-counterfeit packaging market at $114.4 billion in 2017 and projects $208.4 billion by 2023. Identiv’s new Tamper-Proof RFID Labels address the security needs for anti-counterfeiting and brand-protection in the retail, transportation, and pharmaceutical industry, designed for simple use on wine and spirit bottles, pharmaceuticals, and any item in transport that requires broken-seal detection or tamper prevention. The labels can be personalized with custom artwork, different sizes, or chip combinations, providing different security levels. Additionally, each label can be delivered with variable data, including a barcode, numbering, or an end-user’s name. The destructive label is ideal for uses cases in which the end-user needs to ensure an asset is genuine — once removed, the label cannot be reapplied to a new, non-authentic product. Anti-counterfeiting is huge. We’re looking forward to seeing those labels on the market. You mentioned custom designs earlier. Would you consider Identiv the world leader in tag customization?

Dr. Manfred Mueller: Absolutely. Right now, we’re looking at the projected size of the global market for RFID tags to reach $21.9 billion and the opportunity for IoT applications in retail to reach $35.6 billion by 2020; and we’re leading the charge. Identiv provides custom design and rapid prototyping, setting us apart from competitors with our unique expertise in delivering small batches of prototypes tailored to customer-specific requirements. We offer hundreds of HF and UHF antenna designs available in a virtually any size or shape, a comprehensive, diverse raw material inventory for inlays and/or fully printed labels, and high-quality digital offset printing available with complete electronic personalization. You won’t find this calibre portfolio anywhere else. Can you name a few satisfied customers? Tell us their story.

Dr. Manfred Mueller: That’s the tricky part of this industry and the customers we’re working with – unfortunately, we’re under NDAs for nearly all of the exciting applications we’re supporting. However, what I can say is that we’re working with some of the biggest apparel and footwear companies, major players in the area of home automation, and a huge number of top players in the medical and pharmaceutical arena. We’re also serving a broad range of system integrators for the library market, converters in all major sales territories, and some major distribution companies. Additionally, our NFC activities include solution providers for luxury goods and top-shelf wine and liqueur. As you can see, the range of customers we’re serving is pretty broad – we’re staying very busy and we’re doing some incredible work. Glad to hear it! Moving forward, what do you see as the top RFID industry drivers?

Dr. Manfred Mueller: For the consumer end-market, manufacturers are driving to make appliances and personal devices smart and secure. In supply chain tracking, the need is for RFID tags to speed-track goods through the manufacturing process. Industrial manufacturers are using RFID to track pallets of upstream and downstream product, while in agriculture, governments have mandated RFID tagging of livestock in Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Over the next couple of years, do you see things staying the same? If not, where is the transponder market headed?

Dr. Manfred Mueller: By 2020, we’ll see continued growth in the retail and consumer market, followed by financial, security, and safety, with land/sea logistics and the postal service rounding out the portfolio. Both enhanced consumer experience as well as anti-counterfeit solutions are the major drivers for the growth in our industry. We will also see continued innovation on the product side, increasing value-add and convenience. For consumer goods, this might look like combined UHF and NFC technology in one inlay, serving for production tracking in the supply chain and consumer engagement after-sale. Other than what we’ve discussed so far, what else makes Identiv the trusted name in transponders?

Dr. Manfred Mueller: Identiv has over 15 years of experience in the RFID space and our technology and performance are unrivaled. With our expert engineers, global presence, flexibility, quality management, and ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified production facility, we’re positioned to consistently adapt to the needs of the market in an industry that is innovating on a minute-by-minute basis. Beyond ongoing innovation and customization, we offer the fastest delivery from design to production, and that includes the design and tuning of HF and UHF antennas required to operate with exposure to a variety of elements including metal, wood, plastic, water, humidity, heat, pressure, you name it. Plus, we offer a low minimum order quantity – 20,000 units for standard HF/UHF inlays and labels or 2,000 for more advanced RFID inlays with sensors. You won’t find that anywhere else. Manfred, it’s a been a pleasure learning more about Identiv’s role in RFID, NFC, and inlay technology innovation. We hope to have you back in the near future to share the next big thing; we have a feeling the connected world of the IoT – and Identiv – isn’t about to slow down anytime soon.

Dr. Manfred Mueller: Between research, design, and manufacturing, our transponder portfolio will continue to adapt to bring the most innovative smart identities and security to the IoT. Glad to share where we’re at today and definitely interested in coming back to this conversation soon.

See the original interview published here.