Chinese tech company and Nordic Design Partner, Shenzhen Minew Technologies Co., Ltd. has launched the latest version of its electronic shelf label designed to replace traditional paper labels in retail, warehousing, medical, and smart office applications. The ‘STag58P’ can display text, numbers, color blocks, icons, lines, barcodes, QR codes, and pictures that can be remotely updated via a Cloud-connected gateway from a central point. For example, a supermarket chain with multiple outlets across multiple states could update the prices of a single product line across every single store, with just the touch of a button from head office.
The STag58P is powered by Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52833 multiprotocol SoC, that provides Bluetooth® 5.4 wireless connectivity between the labels and a gateway for onward relay to the Cloud. Alternatively, the labels can be updated via an app on a user’s smartphone for in-person label updating. The STag58P is based on the Nordic implementation of the Bluetooth SIG’s new Electronic Shelf Label Service and Profile. This leverages several new features recently released in the Bluetooth Core Specification, and already supported by the Nordic SoftDevice Controller (Bluetooth 5.4 qualified) in the nRF Connect SDK. This includes Periodic Advertising with Responses (PAwR) which enables a single gateway to control and update thousands of individual shelf labels with low latency, while keeping the communication encrypted thanks to the new EAD (Encrypted Advertising Data) feature.
“The biggest difference between electronic labels and paper labels are the cost reduction and efficiency increases,” says Sue Li, Field Application Engineer, Minew. “The old process of changing a price tag—from printing to physically replacing them—is no longer necessary, and the bigger the retail outlet the more time and money that is going to save.
“The system also has a quick positioning function that provides each product with its own ID, enabling the specific location of the products in store to be displayed in the retailer’s back-end system. This improves the efficiency of staff picking and replenishing goods because they know exactly where in the store each product is located.”
The new tag is an addition to the Minew ESL labels, already available in a range of sizes from 1.54 in (3.9 cm) up to 31.2 in (79.2 mm) with a full color, IPX5- and IPX7-rated waterproof ‘e-ink’ display. Other features include multi-color LED lights, customizable templates, rapid refresh, as well as multi-language and NFC support. Minew ESL labels are powered by replaceable button, pouch, or AAA cells depending on label size, and only use power when changing prices, not in normal display mode. As such the labels can achieve up to 5 years battery life (with 5 updates per day). The nRF52833 SoC has been engineered to minimize power consumption, featuring an ultra low power 2.4 GHz radio supporting proprietary, 802.15.4, and Bluetooth 5.4 (including Bluetooth 5.1 Direction Finding), a fully-automatic power management system, native NFC support, and over-the-air device firmware update (OTA-DFU) capabilities.
The new tag can be customized leveraging Minew’s ODM and design services, or can be supported by the company’s proprietary ‘ESL Cloud Platform’ and ‘Cloud Tag’ and ‘GoMeeting’ smartphone apps. The Cloud platform enables the user to configure system parameters as well as manage electronic tags and gateways in each location. From the Cloud Tag app, staff can manage and modify the content and template of individual labels without the requirement for a gateway. The GoMeeting app is designed for smart office applications and allows the user to perform meeting room management and meeting reservation functionality.
“The main reason we selected the nRF52833 SoC was due to the large capacity Flash and RAM memory which was crucial to our product requirements,” says Li. “It allowed us to store and process large amounts of data, ensuring efficient performance and reliability of the system.
“During development Nordic’s powerful nRF Connect SDK was also of great help. It provides rich development resources and sample codes, covering various functions and application scenarios. We were able to develop and debug our applications more quickly by taking advantage of the sample code and documentation provided by the SDK.”