Packaging is just packaging, right? Something that looks pretty, protects the products we buy, perhaps imparts some useful information about that product. But beyond that, it’s destined for the waste paper basket.
Well, as a company that specialises making other company’s products look great, we’d have to disagree. Packaging has never been ‘just packaging’. Too much psychology, research and innovation – too much sweat and too many tears – go into it for that.
But that is now being taken to an entirely new level with advances in smart or active packaging, which has functions way beyond just containing and protecting products. Smart packaging is on the cusp of revolutionising industries such as food, paints & coatings and pharmaceuticals, as the packaging has been specifically created to monitor the internal environment of the product, and send alerts aimed at influencing the end user’s behaviour.
This can be achieved through a number of ways, including microelectronics, apps and nanotechnology, but let’s not get bogged down with the detail. The important things for most people are the applications the technology can be used for.
Take medication for example. Many patients start out taking medication as prescribed by their doctor. But once their initial symptoms start to improve, they either forgot to continue the course, or no longer feel they need it. Sadly, this is particularly the case for people suffering certain mental health conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder, the people who most need support to ensure they continue with their treatment. But unless they are surrounded by family or close friends to provide that support, their treatment can soon go astray.
But smart packaging has the potential to change all of that. By understanding a patient’s treatment schedule, smart packaging can be programmed to send messages to a mobile phone to remind the user to take their medication when it is due. More than that, messages can be shaped to motivate the person to continue with their treatment despite feeling better, ensuring that their condition is managed as effectively as possible.
In conjunction with our sister company Eon Visual Media (www.eon-media.com) we developed a solution that is currently being used by some the World's largest pharmaceutical companies to track clinical trials. You can find out more about this project here: https://vimeo.com/243816010
Smart packaging has many other uses beyond helping patients follow a treatment schedule however, some of which could have hugely beneficial effects for the environment and for consumers.
Currently, the UK alone throws away 7,000,000 tonnes of perfectly edible food each year, costing each household on average £470. Much of that food is thrown out because it went beyond its sell-by date without being consumed. But smart packaging could vastly reduce such wastage. By monitoring the internal environment of the packaging and calculating how this affects product life, messages can be sent to the consumer about when it should be eaten. It could mean the end of that bag of lettuce being lost at the back of the fridge, or those sausages which are past their best.
Of course, messages can be tailored to nudge people towards making choices when shopping, buying only what they need and not wasting money and food. And smart packaging has significant repercussions for recycling too, by reminding consumers of the need to recycle and the correct way to do it. In fact, as with practically all new technologies related to the internet of things, its use is limited only by the imagination.
At Springfield Solutions, innovation has been the lifeblood of the business, so as you would expect, smart packaging is very much in our thoughts. We have already created SmartPicture®, our innovative app that makes a vital link between printed packaging and other assets and the online world. Smart packaging is now very much in our sights.
So, watch this space to see where it takes us. We think we can provide some smart solutions for your packaging. But then, all our solutions are innovative, unique, smart. That’s why we simply call them Springfield Solutions!
If you would like to know more about smart packaging or our SmartPicture® App please drop us an email to email@example.com or give us a call on 01482 484700.
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