Plastic bottle cap featuring RFID tag (photo provided by Toyo Seikan)
Plastic bottle cap featuring RFID tag (photo provided by Toyo Seikan)

NEC Corp. and Toyo Seikan Kaisha, Ltd. have jointly developed a plastic bottle cap embedded with a 2.45 GHz RFID tag.

Despite the built-in IC chip and micro antenna inside the plastic cap, its dimensions are maintained almost equivalent to those of the existing cap. Hence beverage manufacturers will be able to continue to use their existing manufacturing equipment even if they shift to the new cap. The companies claimed that, by making the 24-mm diameter, butterfly-shaped RFID tag (that looks like two gingko leaves opening wide. In the photo, the shade pointed by the arrow is the RFID tag) involve air-like buffer around it, they succeeded in preventing radio frequency from being lost by the drink or other moisture.

The RFID tag used in the bottle cap is NEC Electronics Corp.'s development targeting mass-use in general consumer items. An individual ID is added when the tag is manufactured. Data can be written anytime on its built-in memory. It is a passive RFID tag and its communication range extends to 10 cm.

The companies said they consider volume-production of low-price readers that are affordable for private customers, along with standard readers to be set at outlets. If information about the beverage inside the bottle is stored in the tag, for example, consumers can obtain the information using the reader set at the outlet. Furthermore, if consumers have their own readers, manufacturers may consider campaigns, for example, that involves their individual customers because, through the RFID tag, they can get information that manufacturers have provided.

The companies plan to start mass-producing the bottle cap at Toyo Seikan Group's Japan Crown Cork Co., Ltd. in 2008. Tokyo Seikan and NEC are jointly exploring the possible RFID tag embedding with metal cans, plastic containers, glass bottles, paper packages and other items as well.