Instead of reading a label, consumers could soon be interacting with an electronic screen on packages in the future.
Scientists from the University of Sheffield have developed a new way of attaching electronic screens to paper-based packaging where screens can display simple messages to customers — a move that can revolutionise the packaging industry.
“Labels on packaging can become much more innovative and allow customers to interact with and explore new products. The use of displays or light emitting panels on packaging will also allow companies to communicate brand awareness in a more sophisticated manner,” said led researcher and Professor David Lidzey.
The team collaborated with technology company Novalia to create a new way of displaying information on packaging.
It can be used in greeting cards or products where a customer could receive a simple message.
Further developments can include a countdown timer on the side of a packet to indicate when a timed product was ready — such as hair-dye, pregnancy tests or home-baking using a ‘traffic lights’ system.
The process involves printing electronic tracks onto paper and then fixing low-cost electronics and a polymer LED display to the paper using an adhesive that conducts electricity.
Scientists also designed and constructed a touch-pad keyboard on the paper that allows a user to selectively “drive” the LEDs in the display.
The team’s next steps are to create fully flexible organic displays on a plastic substrate that then fix onto the electronic tracks.
The LED devices need to be low-cost and flexible enough to be used on all packaging.
“The paper-based packaging industry is worth billions of dollars. This innovative system could give manufacturers a way to gain market share by being able to distinguish its products from competitors,” noted Chris Jones from Novalia said.