Thinfilm Buys Kovio, Goes Mobile With NFC Circuit Printing
Thinfilm's IT--plus that of Kovio--could prove to be a major connecting cog in the so-called Internet of things.Printed electronics provider Thinfilm revealed Jan. 22 that is has acquired Kovio's technology, intellectual property and manufacturing assets and has opened the Thinfilm NFC (for near-field communications) Innovation Center in Silicon Valley. Financial details of the transaction were not released. Oslo, Norway-based Thinfilm uses printing to manufacture simple integrated electronics at a fraction of the cost of conventional electronics, in highly scalable processes compatible with high-volume, low-cost markets. San Jose, Calif.-based Kovio, founded in 2001 under the name Nanotectonica, developed a high-performance printed silicon manufacturing platform that enables scalable, item-level NFC IT for branded product and retail markets.
Combined IP Could Become a Big Factor in IoT
Low-cost, disposable sensor labels, which are able to autonomously collect information to later be read by NFC phones and tablets, offer a fundamentally different approach. With more than 400 million NFC-enabled smartphones already being deployed—a number expected to grow to 1 billion by 2015—linking ubiquitous sensors on Thinfilm Smart Labels with the mobile platform creates a fluid and agile alternative to traditional data infrastructures, Thinfilm Senior Vice President of Development Jennifer Ernst told eWEEK. It is this agile network that will truly launch the Internet of Everything.
Thinfilm is following up the acquisition by launching its own innovation center in San Jose with a strong NFC team, significantly expanded intellectual property and pilot manufacturing, Sutija said. The center will open sometime in early 2014. Gartner and other researchers have cited the Internet of things as one of the top 10 strategic trends of this decade. Analysts and industry vendors are predicting markets in the trillions of dollars by 2020: Gartner, $1.9 trillion; IDC, $8.9 trillion; and Cisco Systems, $19 trillion. Industry giants such as Intel, IBM, Cisco, Qualcomm and NXP are placing major bets on IoT by developing new product lines.