Embedded processor and RFID technology from NXP is enabling a new class of packaging-as-a-service in a smart box developed by a French startup.
The Covid-19 pandemic has driven a significant increase in home deliveries, and at the same time created a shortage of cardboard packaging. Cardboard is more difficult to recycle, limiting the source material for new packaging. Many suppliers are struggling to find the packaging they need to keep their products safe during transportation and that situation will get worse as EU regulations mean all packaging will have to recycled over the next few years.
The pandemic has also shown the need for more sophisticated monitoring of products in transit, particularly to check they stay in a certain temperature range and are not subject to sudden shocks. The package also needs to be accurately tracked and ensure that it arrives with the correct recipient.
All of this has driven the design of the packaging system developed by LivingPackets in Nantes, France, along with a new way of using packaging.
The smart box is made from recycled materials and is designed to be used time and time again. The company aims to make money by charging a small fee, €2, each time the box is used to ship something, roughly the same cost as the cardboard. Several of the 35 patents on the box design cover a method to hold an item securely inside the box without using plastic bubblewrap or more cardboard. This moves smart packaging down from high value applicaitons to more everyday shipping.
The electronic lock ensures that only the agreed recipient can open the box by tapping their smartphone, eliminating thefts in transit, and the box has a camera and GNSS satellite positioning sensor to monitor its position.