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FLEXO Magazine : April 2012
... continued from page 35. A recent example of NFC in packaging involves a flexo printer, Cello Tape, located in the California Bay area. Cello Tape inserted a NFC compliant radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag into a flexo printed sticker that has been put to use by the City of San Francisco. Consumers have the choice to pay for parking by tapping their NFC enabled smartphone to the sticker, or by inserting standard coins into the meter. The advantage of NFC is that not only can the consumer pay for the service electronically but he/she will also receive an e-mail re- minder when the parking time is about to run out. He/she then has the option to pay for more time directly from the device. NFC has many uses that QR codes and SnapTagsTM have, but the method of engaging the consumer is completely different. Imagine a point of purchase display that has been enabled with the NXP chip—consumers can tap their mobile device to the display and purchase the product right at the point of sale as opposed to paying at the register. AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented reality (AR) has the viral “cool” factor that really exemplifies the product becoming the package and the pack- age becoming the product. According to PC World Magazine, the definition of AR is “a type of virtual reality that combines real and imagined images in a real-time session.” In aug- mented reality, most of the images are real. For example, Sportvision’s first down graphics system superimposes a yel- low line onto the football field showing TV viewers where the yard line for a first down is located. Augmented reality uses markers in print so that the mobile device with an appropriate AR app downloaded to it will recognize images and launch games, videos, cartoons, and other entertainment. The markers tend to be part of the package design, so that no real estate of the package is compromised. The consumer aims his/her mobile device at a specific image on the package, and the engaging experience is launched. AR has been used for promotional campaigns, new prod- uct launches, and the like. Though AR does not take the con- sumer to a web site or provide coupons, the engagement is such that the consumer will tend not to throw away the pack- age; rather he/she will want to keep it, a constant reminder of the product, because of its uniqueness. Last fall, Starbucks launched its annual holiday cup, but this one had AR associated with it. The AR was not advertised in stores; rather it was promoted on social media, via e-mail, and word of mouth. The cup, when the mobile device lined up with the special marked images, had animals spring to life, and people sledding down hills. Interactivity included the consumer being able to tap his/her phone/device and make the cartoon characters move and dance. The consumer could share this event on social media sites such as Facebook. From a print perspective, assuming standard quality mea- sures are taken to ensure consistency of print, AR can work very successfully with flexographic printing. CPCs can take advantage of this technology to draw consumers into new product campaigns knowing that word of mouth will spread and the consumer will hesitate to toss the package into the recycle bin after the product has been consumed. DIGITAL DIGEST The use of electronic-enabled packaging such as QR codes, Snap Tags, NFC, and augmented reality are on the rise and all of these technologies help CPCs engage with the consumer at a completely different level than ever before. Consumers want information immediately, all the time. Using technologies such as these can feed that need for product information, personalized marketing, and entertainment—all with the use of a mobile device such as a smartphone. These four trends are certainly not the only ones in elec- tronic-enabled packaging. There are many, many others. But the bottom line is that in order for the CPC to take advantage of what these great technologies have to offer consumers and brand loyalty, it must continue to receive consistently high quality print from vendors. Flexography represents the high- est volume of printed packaging, and quality and consistency of print is as important now as it has ever been. There is no reason that electronic-enabled packaging would not work with flexo printed material, especially if the flexo printer fol- lows the tenets of quality programs such as Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST). n About the Author: Colleen Twomey serves as assistant pro- fessor of Graphic Communication in the College of Liberal Arts at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. She teaches consumer packaging and workflow classes related to packaging and publications. Colleen had over 20 years of packaging industry experience specializing in print and plate technologies and prepress prior to joining Cal Poly. She is a frequent speaker at industry associations, such as FTA (Flexographic Technical Association), TAPPI (Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industries), and FPPA (Flexographic Prepress Association). In her role at Cal Poly, she continues to build those industry association relationships, with an emphasis on new markets for pack- age printing. Colleen is also a member of PRIMIR, a market research organization that focuses on print media, and is co-chairing a study in packaging: Evaluation of Vertical Markets & Key Applications. 68 FLEXO april 2012 www.flexography.org