The research team found 11 companies who are offering commercially available technologies based on four criteria; barcodes/QR codes; sensors/printed electronics; Augmented Reality (AR); smart indicators/pigments and inks.
Smart packaging can roughly be divided into two categories: active packaging, that provides functionality such as moisture and oxygen control, and intelligent packaging, that can communicate product changes and other information.
The report was prepared by Marija Jovic, project architect, Gopi Kuppuraj, global scholar and Vasambal Manikkam, global scholar, all from PreScouter, who found intelligent packaging is developing faster than ever, with technologies such as printed electronics and the IoT helping to communicate with consumers.
PreScouter 11 smart packaging companies
- Barcodes/QR codes; Amcor, EVRYTHNG, ScanTrust, Smartglyph, MagicAdd
Sensors / Printed electronics: PragmatIC, Thinfilm, Water.IO.
- AR: Blippar.
- Smart indicators/pigments/ink: Timestrip and Insignia Technologies.
“Two main criteria were applied when scouting for companies: The solution had to be readily available and the technology had to fulfil the specs of smart packaging,” said Mariam Jomha, editor, PreScouter Journal.
“This was not a paid advertisement for any of the listed companies. We were set on finding a certain number of examples (on various technologies) and once the number was reached, our researchers stopped the scouting process.
“Some of these technologies also connect to an IoT platform that gives supply chain transparency by enabling full control of the logistics and distribution chain and generates intelligent analytics that can be further optimized and controlled as desired (ie EVRYTHNG, ScanTrust, MagicAdd, PragmatIC, Thinfilm, Water.IO.
“Companies and technologies identified in the report typically combine several elements, like brand protection, safety, convenience, and conveying product information, making their offering a potentially powerful tool in the packaging industry.
“Worth noting is that the space for smart/intelligent packaging is rapidly growing, and this research presents just one segment of it (i.e. technologies commercially available).”
The 11 companies identified were:
Amcor MaXQ, a digital packaging system featuring barcodes, print and QR codes to grow consumer engagement and loyalty. People can use their smartphones to interact with brands, discover special offers or learn new information.
When consumers scan a MaXQ code printed on the product packaging, they can discover product features, nutritional information and whether the product is legitimate.
PreScouter said the advantage of this technology for companies and brands, was that the codes establish trust with shoppers and prevent counterfeit products in the supply chain hotspots, since each MaXQ code is unique and comes as a proof of purchase when it is scanned.
MaXQ digital system means consumers can directly interact with a brand’s consumer care team to gain real-time product feedback, customer satisfaction and other measurable marketing insights. The system also delivers loyalty rewards, promotional and targeted messages to the consumers’ smartphones as soon as they scan the code.
EVRYTHNG is an Internet of Things (IoT) company connecting consumer products to the Web and managing real-time data to drive applications and analytics throughout the product lifecycle.
EVRYTHNG transforms packaging into intelligent digital identities creating consumer engagement opportunities. Brands can track their products at all stages of the logistics and distribution channel, gain personalized marketing insights and post-purchase service experience for consumers. Customers include Mondelēz, Coca-Cola, Unilever, LVMH and Diageo.
It has three products in smart packaging that operate under the IoT platform: Halo, an anti-counterfeit and brand protection platform and analytics for luxury brands and their protection.
Amplify, which digitizes products, making them smart, for direct consumer engagement and Activate, a large-scale product management suite that can create product information and identities for supply chain and B2C applications.
By combining QR and 2D barcodes and an IoT platform, ScanTrust’s codes contain an identity verification that cannot be replicated. Authentication is made with a smartphone. The QR codes are directly printed on existing products, packaging, labels, cartons or documents.
Its IoT-based program gives supply chain transparency by enabling full control of the logistics and distribution chain and its ScanTrust suite can identify counterfeit spots in the distribution channel. This protects brands supply chain, monitors distributors and prevents inventory duplication.
Smartglyph works across pharmaceuticals, FMCG, retail logistics, financial services, film/media and gaming. It provides smarter barcodes, smart login and smarter adherence.
“The Smarter Barcodes are changing the ways of how products and customers will be communicating in the future. It is allowing more interaction between a products’ brand and customers. This patented technology, applicable to all barcodes and for all packaging, requires the use of a mobile phone with a camera to facilitate scanning of the barcodes on the products’ packaging,” says PreScouter.
MagicAdd makes the internet of packaging possible by using intelligent back-end technology to manage FMCG products along the entire supply chain.
Information about a particular product is updated in the cloud during its lifecycle; meaning it is possible to track the product at any time among the supply chain. The platform uses blockchain to update and store code information securely on to the cloud. Companies get notified when and if packages within a shipment get misplaced/lost during the shipping journey.
Each product has a machine-readable identity due to its adaptation to multiple coding systems: QR, RFID, NFC, and data matrix. Different information can be presented to different users by the same product identifier.
Blippar is a technology company that specializes in augmented reality (AR) and the mobile apps that it develops. It allows shoppers to check the quality and origins of their food by scanning an item with the Blippar app.
The Blippar app is a basic enabling technology that uses image recognition to activate the specific interactive and digital experience on any mobile phone or tablet device. Blippar has already created various “blipps” for consumer packaged goods companies, such as General Mills, Pepsi and Heinz Ketchup. Customers can track down important information such as: quality certificates; nutritional information; location details and images of farms.
PragmatIC develops low cost flexible electronics for smart packaging applications. Its flexible ICs (“FlexICs”) can be embedded in everyday products, enabling the potential for trillions of smart objects that engage with consumers and their environments.
Shareholders in the company include; Cambridge Innovation Capital; Arm Holdings and Avery Dennison.
In comparison to silicon-based circuits FlexICs are more cost effective and support radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near field communication (NFC).
Thinfilm, is a Norwegian provider of near field communication (NFC) for mobiles featuring label and packaging integration services and CNECT cloud-based software platform.
The technology allows customers to tap a particular product with their smartphone and receive personalized content of the product, including brand story, product news, ingredient information, video tutorials and interactive content.
Its OpenSense Technology is a dual-ID tag integrated with a sensor that detects the sealed or opened status of a product for personalized content and it allows product authentication, refill fraud protection and pre- and post-sale engagement via a smartphone or tablet.
Its NFC SpeedTap Tags is a single-ID NFC tag that can be integrated into product labels and bottle caps. Tapping the tag with a smartphone enables instant consumer engagement as well as brand protection.
The Water.IO platform allows any package to become smart by connecting it to an Internet of Packaging (IoP) platform that can be accessed through their brand analytics dashboard via an app. Their unique patented technology enables special sensors embedded into any package to retrieve information regarding the product without interfering with original packaging.
Timestrip is a technology business that designs and manufactures time and temperature indicators for packaging, supply chain and consumer behaviour. Timestrip designs patented low-cost smart indicators that monitor elapsed time and/or temperature changes.
The indicators monitor processes in food service, pharmaceutical and consumer products supply chain and logistics to reduce wastage, monitor component lifetimes, deliver quality assurances, improve sales and build brand share.
The time and temperature indicators are patented, single-use strips that can be attached directly on a product or device. Each indicator measures a product’s shelf life by acting as a visual reminder to replace an expired product.
Indicators can range from 30 minutes up to 12 months and can be customized. The technology is protected by two patents: Time indicator and method of manufacturing same and Elapsed time indicator device.
The technology involved uses patented intelligent pigments and inks that change color in response to changes in temperature or CO2 levels.
A color change is observed when exposed to gases or UV light. It offers food fresh indicators and CO2 indicator pigments that remind users about how long items have been in their fridge and warn when food is past its best via a color change.