Printed Semiconductors could be Boon for Consumers (Aug.13, 2009) — Kovio of Milpitas, Calif., based company plans to print radio frequency identification (RFID) tags using silicon-based inks and hopes to launch in a matter of weeks what is believed to be the world’s first manufacturing plant for printed semiconductors.

KovioLogoBy using inkjet and other types of printers, the company plans to make RFID tags. Such tags traditionally contain microchips, but are so expensive now their use has been relatively limited.

If the company succeeds making them could be as easy as printing a piece of paper that could open up a huge market for so called “printed semiconductors,” which would contain an enormous amount of data but would be cheap enough to slap on thousands of products.

If Kovio succeeds in keeping the price of the devices low, it could herald a new era for consumers and the chip business.

By using silicon-based ink, the company says it can print RFID tags on soup cans, textiles and a wide range of other surfaces. While Kovio’s printed semiconductors aren’t nearly as complex and powerful as many other traditional chips.

Kovio plans to especially target its tags at consumer goods. By approaching the product with a cell phone equipped with the right program, people will be able to access whatever information is stored on the product’s RFID tag.

Kovio envisions the tags containing information about whatever product they are attached to. That could include everything from the age and nutritional content of packaged food to tips on how to take a prescription medicine and whether an item has been exposed to contaminants.

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