From Coca-Cola to Swarovski - simply add electronic sparkle
In many industries such as automotive, there is an increasing demand for structural electronics and the solutions on offer no longer require printed circuit boards. A virtual conference, Opportunities for Printed & Flexible Electronics, hosted by IDTechEx explored some of the possibilities.
Coca-Cola is one of the big names in packaging innovation and customer satisfaction. The organisation views smart packaging as key to a smarter value chain says Jerome Labie Duflot R&D Innovation Manager at Coca-Cola.
In pack flexible electronics can enable product location tracking in production and distribution cycles, assist in optimising supply chain processes, while reducing environmental footprints via sustainable material disposal or reuse. Product integrity can be ensured by allowing monitoring of product origin and authenticity, while consumer experience can be enhanced with novel experiences such as the Light Sabre bottle launched in association with Disney. However, recyclability and cost provide challenges.
Overall says Duflot, smart packaging must balance user friendliness with recyclability and cost.
While it is easy to see how printed and flexible electronics may benefit the packaging industry, jewellery applications seem a little more obscure – Rafael Michalczuk from Swarovski told the webinar, ‘all new products will start to include different degrees of smartness… there will be a blur between jewellery and smart devices.’ Opportunities are on the rise as flexible or stretchable substrates allow use in consumer electronics, apparel, automotive applications and interior design or lighting.
A Horizon 2020 project – BEWELL has resulted in crystal encrusted activity trackers such as the Swarovski Mistfit Shine that could be powered by sunlight for several days. Work is continuing to investigate other form factors such as earrings and necklaces to allow collection of health/wellbeing data.
BEWELL is a consortium of eight partners from five countries and is focused on wearable sensors and actuators to monitor and promote physical and emotional wellbeing. One potential application for Swarovski is an emotional wellbeing patch encompassing bio signal detection such as temperature, ECG or GSR, a functional decorative layer with functional crystals, photovoltaic charging and visual interaction, a printed secondary battery and a flexible hepatics interaction module.
Other partners are working on printed displays, printed batteries, photovoltaic cells and different biosensors.