Bluey Merino turns to NFC, blockchain to protect clothes

Active and outdoor clothing company Bluey Merino has developed a near-field communication (NFC) label to protect its products from counterfeiting.

The Australian company partnered with the University of Wollongong (UoW), with financial support of the New South Wales government, to come up with NFC tags that consumers can scan with their mobile phones to confirm the origin of the wool in a new garment.

“We wanted to put an NFC label into a garnet us is that the consumer knows exactly where the fibre in the garment actually comes from,” said Bluey Merino’s founder Andrew Ross.

“It traces the history of the product right back to our farmers and allows it to be differentiated from the commodity wool fibre products on the market,” he added.

Merino wool is a popular choice for sports and outdoors enthusiasts because it is soft, warm, odour resistant and naturally wicks moisture away from the body. Bluey Merino’s focus is using certified organic wool from flocks raised ethically in Australian farms to create a premium product.

“This is an outstanding example of a local company working with our university sector…to deliver a true ‘value-add’ for our regional primary industry sector,” said Deputy Premier and Minister for Industry John Barilaro.

“Throughout the world NSW products are renowned for their high quality so it’s critical that we guard against their counterfeiting with technology that guarantees their provenance.”

The NFC project is just technology way the Australian wool sector has adopted to protect its products and provide reassurance to customers that it is adhering to its high ethical standards, such as a ban on ‘mulesing’ - the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the buttocks of a sheep to prevent the parasitic infection flystrike.

Earlier this year, a blockchain-based traceability system for merino fibre was introduced by farm-management software company MyOrigins Technology in collaboration with the Eco-Merino Cooperative Limited, an initiative that Bluey Merino is also supporting. Ross is also the founder of MyOrigins.

Bluey Merino’s says it has ambitions to depoy technology on garments beyond provenance and anti-counterfeit, and is planning to develop body-sensing capabilities to monitor the wearer’s vitals such as blood pressure and temperature, with applications in fields including athletics, defence, health care and aged care.

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