|Global demand for electronic smart packaging devices is currently at a tipping point and will grow rapidly from US$0.03 bln in 2012 to US$1.7 bln in 2022, as per IDTechEx's new report. The electronic packaging (e-packaging) market will remain primarily in consumer packaged goods (CPG) reaching 35 billion units that have electronic functionality in 2022. E-packaging addresses the need for brands to reconnect with the customer or face oblivion from copying. That even applies to retailer own brands. It addresses the ageing population's consequent need for disposable medical testers and drug delivery devices. Electronic packaging addresses the fact that one third of us have difficulty reading ever smaller instructions. Electronics is already used in packaging from winking rum bottles and talking pizza boxes to aerosols that emit electrically charged insecticide that chases the bug. Medication now exists that records how much is taken and when and prompts the user. Reprogrammable phone decoration has arrived. But that is just a warm up. The key enabling technology - printed electronics - is about to reduce costs by 99%. Consequently, many leading brand owners have recently put multidisciplinary teams onto the adoption of the new paper thin electronics on their high volume packaging. It will provide a host of consumer benefits and make competition look very tired. This is mainly about modern merchandising - progressing way beyond static print - and dramatically better consumer propositions.
• Winking & decal refers to labels that wink an image on and off and reprogrammable decoration on mobile phones, etc
• Scrolling and page turn refers to text and graphics accessed by scrolling or page turning
• Audio and timer refers to voice, music or alert sounds including those produced by timers or sensors
• Status refers to visible indication of status as with the tester on a battery case and an indication of how much is left in an aerosol can.
Fulton Innovation's concept of Nestl�'s Cheerios cereal box uses inorganic electroluminescent (EL) displays on the packaging, powered by inductive coupling. Bank card provider Inteligensa uses flexible displays for one-time password display cards to over-come online fraud, identity theft and unauthorized access costs. Solar cells power displays in interactive posters, from Toppan Forms and Dai Nippon Printing. AirCode touch technology from Printechnologics GmbH uses existing multi touch smart phone displays to "read" digital information printed in paper, cardboard or foils. Hence, it can be used for a broad variety of e-packaging, e.g. for marketing and consumer information applications like loyalty programs, brand protection, lotteries, and access to online content. MWV have commercialised cartons which light up and play sounds when touched. These e-packaging examples are only a glimpse of what is coming in the next decade.
So far, most e-packaging beyond RFID and EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) has taken the form of primary packaging that makes the product more useful and attractive in the eyes of the consumer, shown in the following figure The report deals mainly with e-packaging involving more of the human senses, which will be more important to all in the value chain. The EAS/RFID route is almost always invisible to the consumer and the other (right side) route is usually immediately recognized and appreciated by the consumer. The main focus is on electronic and electrical aspects, sometimes simply referred to as electronic smart packaging.
The printed electronics components are available today to do these things, but providers tend to only want to sell a component (a battery, display, transistor etc), and not design a complete product. That leaves adopters having to manage the creation of working products on their own. The printed electronics industry needs creative designers to come up with completely new concepts that will amaze consumers. The technology is there, the creativity is not. Most consumer packaged goods (CPG) leaders and their best brand facing support companies now have multi-disciplinary teams working in the area of electronic functionality integration. They see printed electronics modernizing everything: product, packaging, shelf edge, point of sale, posters and rewards using electronics on both paper and plastic film. Much of this is not entirely printed as yet but that is the route to cost reduction and greater functionality.
The rapid growth will be driven by trials now being carried out by leading CPG companies and the rapid technical developments emanating for over 3000 organisations, half of them academic, that are currently working on printed and potentially printed electronics. The six main factors driving the rapid growth of electronic smart packaging are:
• Ageing population
• Consumers are more demanding
• Consumers are more wealthy
• Changing lifestyles
• Tougher legislation
• Concern about crime and the new terrorism
There will also be growth from existing applications such as talking pizza boxes, winking logos on multipacks of biscuits and bottles of rum, compliance monitoring blister packs in drug trials, prompting plastic bottles of drugs that prompt the user, testers on batteries and reprogrammable decoration on mobile phones. However, IDTechEx's projected adoption only represents a few percent of CPG packages being fitted with these devices in 2022.