Blocking Chips, Blocking Inks?

So far signal-blocking fabrics are mostly concerned with blocking radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, but are there other sensors on the market–particularly thin, flexible electronics¬†products such as conductive ink.

Manufacturers of conductive ink seek to replace RFID technology, citing conductive ink as cheaper, more secure, and physically more convenient–instead of embedding chips, you just need to print the ink onto the product. They’re also an alternative to quick response (QR) codes, with the claim that they’re not only easier to use, but aesthetically more pleasing. One main producer of inks and other smart products, T+Ink, markets their conductive ink, Touchcode, as being able to put “a piece of the internet inside every printed product.”

Photo Credit: Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight

Another company, Printcolor, lists twenty-one different conductive inks for a variety of uses–from electroCRYPT which is your basic electronically conductive ink, to holoCRYPT, which prints on holographic products. There’s even aromaCRYPT which contains “specifically developed fragrances which are permanently released from the carrier host without the need of mechanical activation.” The future is awesome.

So instead of your passports or phones having RFID chips, maybe in the future they’d simply be printed with conductive ink. Signal-blocking fabrics and products would still be needed, however, since the inks can obviously be read by scanners and skimmers. It’ll be interesting to see what these conductive inks might be used for in the future, especially if they go into more mainstream markets–such as the fashion industry–and how signal-blocking fabrics and products will adapt.

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