Imagotag Adds NFC to ESLs

SES Imagotag was formed when Store Electronic Systems acquired Austrian electronic shelf label (ESL) maker, Imagotag. We nearly missed the company at the show, but we were glad we found them as they had plenty to show us. The company claims to be a global leader and told us it has 10K stores equipped with 135 million displaysand it makes ESLs in three technologies. At the very low end, and increasingly unpopular segmented reflective LCD. One of the big disadvantages of this kind of display is that can’t show graphics – which means that they can’t show barcodes. Next up, the company supplies reflective TFT LCDs which do provide bit-imaged graphics. At the top of the range is the full E Ink-type of display, which have graphics and some colour. In 2017, there will be a new colour in addition to red.

SES Imagotec labelsSES Imagotec labels will have a new colour next year, in addition to red. Image:Meko

A new feature for the company is in the inclusion of NFC in the tag. That allows a consumer to touch their smartphone to the label and directly connect to a web site that may provide more detailed product information or make special offers. Also new was a “split screen” label that allows a single label to show prices for two products, saving cost.

The firm has 14 sizes of labels from 1.6″ to as large as 7.4″. The company was showing a couple of new mechanical designs at the show. The first was a locking system that uses a magnetic system to retract a pin that holds the label in a rail system. The second is a prototype system that not only allows labels to be simply clipped in, but also powers the labels from the rail. The rail itself can be powered by a clip in battery module. Staff told us that the idea is getting good interest, but that the system is bit too bulky for a number of customers at the moment, so needs more refinement.

SES Imagotag moduleThis SES Imagotag module concept is a bit bulky for some customers, but allows a battery to be shared. Image:Meko

One of the features of the E Ink-based labels is that they can use a low frequency system for updates that uses high frequency but ultra low power radio that can be operated from up to 5 metres away. The company told us that the radio technology was one of the factors in the purchase by SES.