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Science Technology

Printable Smart Labels Tell You When the Milk's Gone Bad 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-it's-skim-it's-bad-from-the-get-go dept.
chicksdaddy writes "Security Ledger brings news that the Norwegian firm, ThinFilm has successfully tested a printable electronics component that it claims is the first, fully-functional 'smart' label. The company claims its disposable Smart Sensor Label can track the temperature of perishable goods and is a 'complete closed system built from printed and organic electronics.' Smart Sensor is being marketed to pharmaceutical makers as a way to keep temperature-sensitive drugs and to food wholesalers, which can track the temperature their product is kept at throughout the supply chain. When 'critical temperature thresholds are reached, the Smart Sensor label will change to indicate that using an integrated display driver. Such labels could make it possible to easily monitor the condition of large quantities of product, keeping it safe and effective and preventing perfectly usable products from being destroyed. But the possible applications of printable electronics are huge: they can be produced for a fraction of the cost of comparable technologies because they don't need to be assembled. And, because they're flexible and paper-like, they can be deployed pretty much anywhere you can stick a label — something ThinFilm's CEO says could provide an extensible platform for the much-ballyhooed 'Internet of Things.'"
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Printable Smart Labels Tell You When the Milk's Gone Bad

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  • SO... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xyourfacekillerx (939258) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @07:39PM (#45159193)
    For 2,000 years the human nose (standard equipment on most humans) was not the correct way to detect foul and spoiled milk? We were drinking bad milk the whole time, or what? My bad milk detector? No production cost, and zero use cost.
    • Re:SO... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17, 2013 @07:44PM (#45159237)

      What were people using before that?

      • What were people using before that?

        They were too busy figuring out which mushrooms and berries were deadly poison to worry about spoiled milk.

        Lothar: Hey, the milk smells funny again, what's left to eat?
        Gunthar: All that's left are these berries that Motan gathered last week.
        Lothar: Didn't Motan just die the other day?
        Gunthar: Yup, spewing from both ends.
        Lothar: ... *Holds nose* *Chugs spoiled milk*

        *Later*
        Lotar: Well, that spoiled milk was so spoiled it turned into... something interesting. Let's call it Yogurt!

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        I don't know, but I think that was when they invented this joke:
        "My great-granddad has no nose."
        "How does he smell?"
        "Awful"

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      But you can't patent the human nose (only possibly sections of the genetic sequence that create it).

      At least this is a temperature sensor it appears, and does not detect spoiled milk that is simply too old.
      I'd feel bad if we've degenerated to a point where people need to use a color-coded label because they couldn't read expiration dates.

      • But you can't patent the human nose (only possibly sections of the genetic sequence that create it).

        At least this is a temperature sensor it appears, and does not detect spoiled milk that is simply too old.
        I'd feel bad if we've degenerated to a point where people need to use a color-coded label because they couldn't read expiration dates.

        Whoever tries to patent gene sequences ain't worth the whoopie that gave them theirs... Now, us old folks might have a bit of trouble reading expiration dates sometimes I don't want to make it all the way back to the bedside just to put my teeth back in. And another thing: I refuse the "too old" labeling! My memories not what it used to be, but I've got know-how -- Experience. I've been degenerating longer than most of those labelers have been degenerates trying to push their newfangled "solutions" and

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      Which would be hand for AFTER you bought it, took it home and opened it....

    • This invention will not detect bad milk. It does not detect bacterial overgrowth, nor pH changes, nor the breakdown of proteins.

      "Warn When The Milkâ(TM)s Gone Bad" is hyperbole and disingenuous as a title, except that it does say "warn" instead of "actually detect and tell you for sure".

    • No production cost

      Well, you gotta factor in the cost of paying for meals, transportation, gifts, entertainment and so on. And don't forget about failed ventures -- many investments turn bad and take time to recoup. If you finally make a successful investment, there's the possible expense of a wedding ring and cermony, then after a 9-month waiting period, there are 18 years spent developing it into self-sufficient state ... that's a pretty big production cost if you ask me!

    • Good for you, but I can't necessarily tell the difference by smelling. I have to drink it, by which time I've drank bad milk. I think to would be helpful if I could avoid that situation.

    • Because when you have 2,000 gallons of milk in separate little cartons, your nose gets tired. And you've just opened 2,000 gallons of what will presumably end up as someone else's milk...with a safety seal, ensuring no one else has sniffed it.

    • For 2,000 years the human nose (standard equipment on most humans) was not the correct way to detect foul and spoiled milk?

      Most humans, yes. My nose is bad enough at detecting spoiled milk that the first thing I notice is the milk turning solid when I warm it, so I welcome this development.

    • Milk doesn't go "bad" if it was collected and handled in a native way. The natural microbiology in it would start consuming the sugars and turn it "sour" in a tasty way.

      Only with modern mechanical pasteurized and homogenized milk do you have this problem.
      The milk is completely sterilized so is open to any microbiology taking over.

    • You insensitive clod!

      ----

      No really, I am anosmic, (complete inability to smell)

      I would love things like these.

      Maybe a portable detector signalling foul odours, coz if you baked me a cake literally full of shit, I wouldn't know.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      For 2,000 years the human nose (standard equipment on most humans) was not the correct way to detect foul and spoiled milk? We were drinking bad milk the whole time, or what? My bad milk detector? No production cost, and zero use cost.

      Well, the purpose of this label is not to detect sour milk, but to detect when conditions may lead to premature souring of the milk. Like say the reefer unit conks out midway through the Midwest. If caught early, the load might be salvageable. But if not, then the entire load

  • The 80s called, they want their mood ring back..

  • by themushroom (197365) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @07:53PM (#45159303) Homepage

    There have been products that have liquid crystal foil labels that change color or have a rising bar to show temperature, similar to aquariums that have a stick-on temperature strip in a corner. I believe that beer with a can that tells you when it's Rocky Mountain cold uses that sort of technology but I don't know for sure.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      the difference is these latch on, so if the milk gets too warm then cools off again it still warns you. still a lot more expensive than a mk. 1 nose for now, but the labor costs of opening and smelling all the milk will be rather high
      • by slick7 (1703596)

        but the labor costs of opening and smelling all the milk will be rather high

        This is something a politician should do. Is it possible to make a label that warns you when a politician goes bad?

        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          a sticker with the word bad printed on it? apply to every politician and call it a day
  • Sounds like a good idea, but you're competing against a plain old "best before x/x/x" text.
    I fear that these smart labels could be too sensitive, and give a false report I expired food. Thus telling me I need to throw away perfectly good food and buy more.

    There's very little incentive to NOT make them too sensitive.

    • A Harvard Study [reuters.com] suggests Americans throw away billions of pounds of good food per year because they believe the best before date indicates when food goes bad.
  • by Trip6 (1184883) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @07:58PM (#45159349)
    Like a mood ring?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can see how this could be very very useful in pharmacology, or for clinical trials, or for clinicians storing drugs that either require rigourous temperature controls or otherwise spoil under certain conditions or length of time. It will be a useful tool to their existing arsenal of temperature monitoring etc.

    But for Milk or any other food product, seriously? How stupid do people have to be they need a label to tell them their lumpy milk has gone off or their fizzy coleslaw is past its best or the mouldy

  • The Pharma industry has been using specially treated temerature indicators in their packaging to note exceptional/out-of-range temperatures for pharmaceuticals in transit, llike these tempstrips:

    These are single change strips that monitor surface temperature and show a permanent record of the highest temperature. When your item has reached the temperature monitored it will turn black. The strips are oil, water and steam resistant.

    Source [tempstrips.com]

    The milk examle use is silly - the risk of milk spoiling is low, but the

    • But the milk example isn't silly. Ok, from the farm/factory, you send x gallons of milk on a truck somewhere else. You do many, many loads of this all the time, and gas costs a lot. Sure, finding out that a few gallons every load has gone bad even before it got on the truck is trivial, as it will be found somewhere in the chain, but you've just saved:

      1) some fraction of shipping costs
      2) saved the supermarket money in refunded milk
      3) saved the customer the experie

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 17, 2013 @09:14PM (#45159885) Homepage Journal

    What is desperately needed is a sticker to let you know if your beer has ever been permitted to sit on a loading dock too long, god forbid it might sit in the sun. Forget milk, we need to use this technology to win the war on skunky beer.

  • how is this less expensive than just placing a single thermometer on each shelf? seriously, it's a interesting tech but making temperature labels is solving a non-problem.

    i think they would be better off changing to using their tech in applications where sensors can be put on people's skin like temporary tattoos to replace bulky systems. a heartrate monitor would be good place to start. though this could be very useful for tracking both location and status of hospital patients or the residents of homes f

  • You'll get cheese after a week.
  • by Sneftel (15416) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:17AM (#45163193)

    There are already time-temperature indicators [wikipedia.org], which are low-cost, (usually) non-electronic devices affixed to perishable products to check whether they've remained in the appropriate range, and how long they were out of that range. Those are what this new tech is competing with, not the temperature-sensitive LCD strips you see on aquariums.

  • One more way to increase the price of food with no actual improvement. This also means more money goes to middlemen rather than to the farmer.

    Alternative, use your nose and good sense - Not available everywhere.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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