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Industry

Smart packaging: what’s out there?

You may have heard of smart packaging before, but what is it exactly and what is available commercially?

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The study identified eleven companies offering smart packaging technologies commercially

A new study from global researcher Prescouter has revealed eleven companies across the world that are currently offering smart packaging solutions to clients. Smart packaging can be categorised into two categories: active packaging, which provides some form of functionality like moisture and oxygen control, and intelligent packaging, which can communicate product changes and other information.

The smart packaging solutions are based on four main technologies: barcodes/QR codes, sensors or printed electronics, augmented reality (AR) and smart indicators/pigments/ink. Swiss firm ScanTrust was one company identified to be using QR and 2D barcodes to ensure that products can be authenticated and interacted with using a smartphone. The company helps brand owners utilise new mobile tools to protect against counterfeit goods and drive end-user engagement, one such partner is Agfa. The secure codes can digitally interact with customers via smartphones, giving companies a more in-depth view of customer behaviour.

The company helps brand owners utilise new mobile tools to protect against counterfeit goods and drive end-user engagement

Cheshire firm Smartglyph works across various sectors to research innovating digital ways to connect and communicate with customers. Smarter Barcodes allows more interaction between a brand and its customers, and the flexibility of the barcodes allows campaigns to be changed with little effort. Smartglyph has started to implement its smart packaging solution for the legal marijuana sector, both in seed-to-sale tracking as well as brand marketing.

One smart packaging solution mentioned is the use of sensors or printed electronics in packaging. It uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC) technologies that are embedded in sensors or printed electronics inside the product. One such firm is PragmatIC, which has Avery Dennision as one of its shareholders. It uses flexible integrated circuits or FlexICs, which are embedded into everyday products making them interactive and intelligent.

Magnum was one such client which invited users in Singapore to design their own ice cream using AR, creating a virtual experience for consumers

The one and only company identified to be using AR in its smart packaging is Blippar, a London-based technology company that has developed an app that uses image recognition to identify important information for the customer, like nutritional information and quality certificates on food products. Magnum was one such client which invited users in Singapore to design their own ice cream using AR, creating a virtual experience for consumers.

And finally, one example of companies offering smart indicators is Timestrip which has designed low-cost smart indicators that monitor time or temperature changes for use in food service, pharmaceutical and consumer products supply chains. The timestrip indicators can be made for any time between 30 minutes up to 12 months.

With so much available now on our smartphones, it is easy to see why these companies are starting to tailor their technology to work with them and extend the ease with which information about products can be received by clients and end users.

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