Living in the digital world - future of packaging discussed at the On-Pack Interactivity Seminar

Packaging Professional magazine
20 Jan 2014

Delegates from across the industry came together for the On-Pack Interactivity seminar in London, hosted by IPI (Europe), to discuss the future of packaging. Rhiannon Garth Jones reports.

Advertising has long been seen as a cool, attractive industry. In contrast, packaging often seems like the ugly sister, but the interactive packaging industry might be set for a makeover. Jani-Mikael Kuusisto from Portuguese design company Ynvisible, explained that brand marketing has changed since its heyday in the 1980s, and that 73% of brands could disappear without consumers caring or even noticing. He highlighted Nike, which is now putting much of its advertising budget into products that link to extended experiences online rather than into promotional campaigns. Given this trend, said Kuusisto, the way is open for interactive packaging to take a central role, not only by using the internet to build relationships between brands and consumers but also by bringing online interactivity into the physical world.

The presentation from Interactive Product Solutions supported this view, and focused particularly on the role of smartphones. Jeremy Plimmer from the Product and Image Security Foundation commented that smartphones are changing the landscape, and that the future of interactive packaging depends on whether one believes that people will buy into the smartphone lifestyle.


What are the key barriers to interactive packaging?
Delegates said:

  • sustainability
  • regulation
  • funding

PolyIC, Germany, introduced some of its products currently in development, including a label system that is activated by 13.56MHz RFID inductive readers, which could be applied to vouchers, games, tickets and transparent conductive films. In addition, it discussed the progress being made on integrated temperature sensors for food packaging.

Further advances included ultra-thin, flexible and disposable printed logic circuits demonstrated by Pragmatic Printing Ltd, UK, which could replace silicon chips and be used for security printing as well as interactive advertising.

Feedback about the potential for interactive packaging was largely positive, although it was observed that many packaging and marketing departments do not appear to see the future in the same way, and too often have a different understanding of technology. Many delegates also felt that functionality should remain the first priority, although it was acknowledged that interactivity is becoming increasingly significant. The difference between purchasers and consumers of products was raised, and it was agreed that interactive packaging could bridge this gap.

Sessions by IPI (Europe) on interactive packaging will continue into 2014.