World's First Smart Surfaces for RFID Systems

Greenerwave to Launch Self-Inventory RFID Solution for Logistics in 2023

Surfaces & Electromagnetic Waves

Initial tests in the laboratory prospered to the point where, in the end, high-performance, intelligent surfaces could be manufactured. The smart surfaces enable innovative applications for RFID systems and high-performance 5G antennas.

Intelligent surfaces are suitable for self-service machines or vending machines with refrigerators, where they can be installed on any shelf. The reading accuracy reaches close to 100 % in all OpenIT solutions.


  • Founding Year: 2015
  • Headquarters: Paris
  • Employees (2022): 50
  • Turnover (2022): 3.7 million euros
Reconfigurable Intelligent Materials in RFID Modules and Antennas

Reconfigurable Intelligent Materials in RFID Modules and Antennas.

The roots of the French electronics company Greenerwave lie in the scientific research of radio waves in the context of the surrounding materials and surfaces they encounter. The goal of this research is the control and steering of electromagnetic waves. To this end, Greenerwave has been developing smart surface materials in interaction with conventional printed circuit boards since 2013.

Programmable RFID applications, antennas for satellite communication and radar modules for the automotive industry are among the initial prototypes.

Institut Langevin

At the Institut Langevin in Paris, which emerged from the School of Applied Physics and Chemistry (ESPCI) and the CNRS basic research network, the founders of Greenerwave Mathias Fink and Geoffrey Lerosey had been working together since 2008.

Geoffrey Lerosey focused his scientific work on the influence of electromagnetic waves and sought solutions to control them in the best possible and most energy-efficient way. Specifically, he researched the development of new materials for control and algorithms for the control of electromagnetic waves.

Geoffrey Lerosey, CEO of Greenerwave

Geoffrey Lerosey, CEO of Greenerwave, next to intelligent surfaces made by Greenerwave.

Intelligent reconfigurable surfaces

Intelligent reconfigurable surfaces strengthen WLAN coverage in offices and residential buildings.

The Original Idea in 2013: Smart Electromagnetic Home

“Back in 2013, my vision was based on the idea of creating smart electromagnetic environments," explains Geoffrey Lerosey. "Smart acoustic and thermal homes already existed. So why shouldn't smart electromagnetic homes be possible as well?" Originally, Geoffrey Lerosey's main goal was to improve the susceptibility of local wireless networks (WLAN) to interference with smart electromagnetic materials.

The WLAN signal in enclosed spaces was to be amplified while energy consumption remained the same. Walls in office buildings and residential buildings were targeted as possible areas of application for the smart electromagnetic surface material.

Company Founded in 2015

To develop a prototype, Mathias Fink and Geoffrey Lerosey founded the company Greenerwave in 2015.

Product development was challenging because smart surfaces are just one part of the overall building infrastructure. Numerous players are involved in providing and maintaining the technological infrastructure. Starting with the building owner, through the material suppliers, to the operators of the network, the responsibilities are distributed among different decision-makers. In the end, the business model could not be implemented.

First Trials with Printed Circuit Boards

In 2017, it was clear that the company's focus needed to change. The founders looked for a field with similar technology. Possible application areas they found were RFID and antennas for various communication applications.

Breakthrough with PCB

The surfaces function like a mirror, which consists of numerous small mirrors that can be moved. Depending on the arrangement of the individual mirror elements, the image deforms. Exactly the same thing happens with electromagnetic waves: when an electromagnetic wave hits a surface, it is reflected according to the angle of entry.

"The surface is such that we can do exactly what we want with the wave," explains Geoffrey Lerosey. "We can use the surface to direct the wave in a particular direction, to scatter it in all directions, or to focus it in two directions." All of this is done at the speed of electronics, so it's in real time. The technology is suitable for beam forming and for use as an antenna.

Conventional printed circuit boards form the base material with which Greenerwave works. The surfaces consist of a large number of identical unit cells (from printed circuit boards). Each of these unit cells acts like a small RFID antenna that is individually addressed and adjusted.

When a wave arrives, the surface acts exactly as the cells were programmed. For example, the sign of the reflected wave may change depending on whether or not there is current on the cell. Since the influence is reproduced over the entire surface, this results in efficient control of electromagnetic waves over a larger area.

The overall material requirements are not large, nor are the materials expensive. How many unit cells are needed depends on the frequency. If the wavelength in the centimeter range below one gigahertz is 30 centimeters, for example, then the PCB module is 15 cm long. In the millimeter range, the RFID module is also only one to a few millimeters long. For higher frequencies, other PCB materials with higher conductivity might be required.

At present, the individual modules are still connected with cables. In the future, Geoffrey Lerosey would like to transition to printed electronics on plastic or the production of inlays. The surfaces are to be as inexpensive as RFID labels.

The intelligent surfaces are programmable in real time. The reading accuracy reaches close to 100% in all OpenIT solutions.

An experimental setup for testing surface materials

An experimental setup for testing surface materials. An antenna can be seen in the center.

From the Lab Into the RFID World

Intelligent surfaces enable innovative applications for RFID systems and high-performance 5G antennas.

A wide range of applications is possible with intelligent surfaces

A wide range of applications is possible with intelligent surfaces.

Tagged medication in medicine boxes

Tagged medication in medicine boxes are captured with intelligent materials in the lining of the boxes.

RFID is easy to implement from a technical standpoint. The smart materials in Greenerwave's RF system virtually force the radio waves to explore interior spaces more thoroughly than a fixed reader. After only a few seconds, hundreds of RFID tags are fully detected. This maximizes the reliability and accuracy of RFID. At the same time, costs remain low.

Smart surfaces are suitable for self-service machines or vending machines with refrigerators, where they can be installed at any shelf level. They are also suitable for other volumes that are difficult to read, such as medicine boxes that may contain a lot of labeled medicines. Another area of use is in industrial applications with very small metallic environments where RFID tags are difficult to read.

Larger metallic environments are one area of application, for example, commercial vehicles with a lot of (metallic) cargo space that are able to inventory themselves.

For the past two years, Greenerwave has been working on this solution together with a major automotive manufacturer in France.

Greenerwave's original idea now has more traction in the field of wireless communications. Reconfigurable smart surfaces are currently receiving a lot of attention and funding in this field. The European Standardization Institute (ETSI) refers to reconfigurable smart surfaces as a new wireless technology for dynamic and targeted control of radio signals between a transmitter and a receiver.

This makes the wireless environment itself a service. Major mobile networks such as Orange and Nokia are also interested in the technology because the materials can be used very well as antennas. In the high-frequency range (30 GHz or 77 GHz), antennas are formed and small modules are made with the smart surface in them.

Beamforming in real time and use as a 5G antenna, as an antenna for satellite communications and for 4D Radar are part of the performance spectrum.

Solutions from Greenerwave

Access to the Smart Fridge from OpenIT Solutions is via NFC, while food is captured using UHF RFID

Access to the Smart Fridge from OpenIT Solutions is via NFC, while food is captured using UHF RFID.

Delivery services need reliable and fast inventory

Delivery services need reliable and fast inventory.

Self-service providers, freight forwarders and CEP service companies benefit from Greenerwave's RFID solutions.

OpenIT Solutions is a French provider of networked refrigerators based in Nantes. The company considers the networked refrigerator as a 24/7 accessible catering point for fresh food prepared by restaurants. Several hundred smart self-service refrigerators and the food inside them are delivered to customers in various businesses each year. It quickly became apparent that RFID detection was not at 100 % when the food was removed.

About 5 % of the food removed could not be detected and posted to a user account. OpenIT Solutions was thus steadily losing revenue and therefore turned to Greenerwave. The smart materials form an additional RFID solution that sits on the shelves and captures every transaction. The capture rate is now close to 100 %.

A car manufacturer approached Greenerwave a few years ago with a request to develop a self-inventory RFID solution for loading areas.

The challenge in the cargo hold is that it is essentially a large metal box which hinders RFID detection and performance. The major RFID vendors that the car manufacturer first approached only offered to install an additional large RFID reader, which was not practical for cargo holds.

In addition, the price of a powerful reader is extraordinarily high. Greenerwave's RFID solution consists of many unit cells connected by cables that form the smart material. It is located on the ceiling of the cargo hold. The RFID module reads the entire volume several times in a very short time and detects 100% of the tags present. The self-inventory system ramps up when the engine starts. If, for example, a fitter has forgotten a tool at the customer's site, the RFID system informs him before he leaves.

He can collect it without losing valuable working time. Courier express parcel service companies such as UPS and delivery services such as Amazon can inventory very quickly. The market launch is planned for 2023 and the system is tremendously affordable. From the second generation, the solution will be wireless and even more affordable.

Future Solutions by Greenerwave

In satellite communication, the antennas are on the ground; the satellite orbits the Earth. Usually, for a satellite antenna, many small RF sources are synchronized and aligned with the satellite. This hardware is expensive: many powerful semiconductors are built in, expensive development work has been done, and connecting all the components into an antenna is costly.

In addition, such a system consumes a lot of energy. Greenerwave's satellite system, on the other hand, uses a conventional transmitter/ receiver and, by combining it with smart materials, turns it into a smart antenna. Again, the cost of the solution is much lower than the conventional solution. It also requires fewer amplifiers.

The antenna will be launched in 2024. The development work was funded by the French Ministry of Defense and the French Space Center.

Greenerwave's core technology will be used in the 4D radar system in Plastic Omnium cars in the future. The antenna module very quickly scans the environment in the dimensions of distance, speed, horizontal angle and height.

Plastic Omnium is a global technology company in the field of New Mobility. The materials Plastic Omnium uses enable weight reduction and are permeable to radio waves.

Greenerwave manufactures software-configured antennas for satellite communications

Greenerwave manufactures software-configured antennas for satellite communications.

A fashion retail inventory solution could be implemented quickly

A fashion retail inventory solution could be implemented quickly.

Greenerwave and Plastic Omnium's 4D antenna module will be launched in 2026

The 4D imaging radar that Greenerwave is developing with Plastic Omnium has 10 times the angular resolution of conventional radar systems and improves vehicle environment detection capability up to 300 meters. It will significantly support the development of autonomous vehicles. For Greenerwave, the 4D radar system is the most complex solution to date. It is scheduled for market launch in 2026.

Possible Retail Solution

So far, Greenerwave has focused on solutions for small spaces. This is because it is relatively easy to install the smart materials in them to maximize RFID reliability. The goal for the future is to apply the technology to larger spaces, such as retail stores. Automatic inventory with smart materials is desirable and cost-effective there. A single reader on the ceiling would be enough to address all unit cells and align them according to requirements.

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