The Mobile 15: Our picks for the most innovative companies

Thin Film Electronics ASA

CEO: Davor Sutija

Number of employees: 26

The business:

ThinFilm has created a process to print a circuit onto packaging, which allows companies that use it to store information and then act on that information.

The backstory:

The company’s partnership with Xerox PARC enabled the circuits to have not just memory but also the logic needed to turn the memory into something that can execute programs. That, in turn, has helped ThinFilm make the leap from the novelty toy market to a broader set of industries. It now has relationships with packaging companies, security companies and others to embed intelligence into everyday objects.

The innovation:

ThinFilm’s innovation is the melding of cheap printed memory with printed logic circuits from Xerox PARC. The printed circuits are cheap and can be printed onto packaging for food, medical devices, drugs or other goods. With only the memory, a pill bottle might have the ability when scanned to indicate if it had been stored at a temperature that rendered the medicine inside ineffective. Once logic and eventually a radio is added, then the same pill bottle might be able to send an alert when temperatures are veering into the danger zone.

The plan:

ThinFilm already has a deal to embed its circuits into food packaging. But the printed circuits need to have their own source of power and radio communication to become a fully functioning member of the Internet of Things. Today ThinFilm’s circuits are read via a contact-based system, but by 2014 the company hopes to have NFC and RFID-enabled printed circuits that can “shout” their status when near the appropriate reader. As for power sources, the company is looking at ways to attach a battery, although those would not be printed and would add both bulk and cost to any product requiring one.