Fargo, known primarily for a quirky cop and unauthorized use of a wood chipper in the movie of the same name, has applied some of that quirky charm to printing. Researchers at North Dakota State University’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering have developed a process, not unlike screen printing, which allows a humble sheet of paper to be tracked via RFID technology.
Dubbed “smart paper” by lead researcher Val Marinov, the process uses a laser to apply tiny silicon chips to the sheet, which can then be located via radio waves. Already past the prototype stage, the technique is now being considered for mass production. The biggest stumbling block at the moment is finding a way to get costs down to under 10 cents per sheet. With the right backing, it’s expected that the technology will reach the market in a year or two.
Currently seen as a possible medium for lottery tickets, election ballots and mass-transit passes, the question becomes how best to put it to good use in the print and direct mail fields.