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Panasonic Demos NFC-Powered E-ink Shelf Labels (video)

panasonic wirelesss nfc esl e-inkEarlier this week Panasonic posted a video which shows a shelf label prototype which can be powered by the smartphone used to update the label.

This is not the first wirelessly powered E-ink display (in fact, E-ink even has a design up for license) but it is good to see yet another company working on the tech.

Now if only Panasonic could come up with a better use for it.

The whole point of electronic shelf labels is that they are supposed to save labor costs by being updated remotely from a central transmitter.  Panasonic’s prototype defeats that idea because it requires that a person wave the smartphone over each label. That’s takes time and labor, and for what, to save battery life?

That’s not a good trade-off, but that is less a problem with this idea than with Panasonic’s prototype. Hopefully they’ll adapt the idea for other uses.


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puzzled May 14, 2016 um 8:38 pm

The trade off is labour.

With a battery powered device, you are going to have to have someone change out the batteries. After a period of not working due to battery drain. And devices not working on a relatively random schedule. Battery drain will be high if there is any kind of wireless functionality, and you have to stock and dispose of batteries. And store staff may not be qualified to do the battery replacement. There’s even a possibility that in some locations, you have to have a qualified electrician do the battery swap.

With NFC, the store staff only have to patrol the store to change the prices. Which shouldn’t take long, and is part of their normal activities.

puzzled May 14, 2016 um 8:40 pm

If the devices are rechargeable, someone is going to have to go around recharging them, again on a weird schedule.

If the devices are physically wired to power or network, then the cost of that installation (and maintenance) may far outweigh the cost of having an otherwise idle store clerk wander the aisles changing prices.

Nate Hoffelder May 14, 2016 um 8:56 pm

It’s E-ink. The batteries will last for years and years, and you can always just swap one out with another if a battery dies.

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