Tamper-evident RFID

It's another sign of the times we live in that authentication technologies, including RFID tags, may themselves need to be made tamper-evident to indicate when they've been messed with.

At least two companies offer technology that claims to make RFID tags tamper-evident.



One of those is Mikoh Corp., which offers its Smart&Secure tags, which we reported on last November. It is not a visual feature, but is linked to the RFID tag's functionality. In its simplest format, the RFID tag is disabled if it is tampered with or removed.



Another vendor is Parelec, a supplier of ink additives, which offers an anti-counterfeiting smart label that can be affixed inside or outside a packaged product. Printed with a silver antenna, the tag's paper substrate is designed to break instantly if someone tries to remove it. The compact 1.2”x1.4” RFID tag operates in the high-frequency13.56 MHz range, which is more commonly used by pharma companies for item-level tracking.



A press release dated mid-August indicated that “the smart labels will soon have their first commercial usage by a global manufacturer of cell phones.”



Parelec CEO Geva Barash acknowledges that the first application will be with Nokia. Although Barash is not privy to any details, he believes it will be used directly on the cell phone. That will ensure that each cell phone can be identified and authenticated separate from its package.



Another option available to packagers to ensure TE is through embedded RFID tags. Several companies have done this or are working on it, including Owens-Illinois Healthcare Packaging. O-I is initially focusing on embedding RFID inlays in the base of its high-density polyethylene pill bottles. O-I says that someone must somehow destroy the bottle to remove it. Project director Brian Chisholm says bottle embedding has advantages over RFID in closures, which are removable and can be switched among bottles.



We asked RFID and supply chain consultant Tom Ryan of TKR Consulting Associates about the value of TE RFID. “Tamper-evident tags definitely have their place in the scheme of things, but are only viable if there is a real savings or loss prevention motivation,” says Ryan.



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