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Forget Labels: Consumers Could Interact With Electronic Screen On Packaging In The Future

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Consumers may soon forgo reading labels when they are shopping for their groceries. A team of researchers from the University of Sheffield said that incorporating an electronic screen on a packaging is now possible.

The scientists worked with tech company Novalia in creating a packaging that displays important information useful for consumers. The technology, they said, is not only limited to food packaging items. It could also be used in greeting cards and other products that needs to display information or messages.

The technology involves printing of electronic tracks onto the packaging material and by using an electric-conducting adhesive, the polymer LED display and small battery-powered electronics can be fixed onto the packaging. The scientists also created a touch pad keyboard to the paper, which allows consumers to control the LEDs in the display.

Professor David Lidzey of the University of Sheffield's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said that with this technology, food labels can become innovative and allow users to interact and explore the products.

"The use of displays or light emitting panels on packaging will also allow companies to communicate brand awareness in a more sophisticated manner," Lidzey said.

The implications of the research greatly benefit manufacturers by having a cheaper alternative for packaging and branding their products.

"The paper-based packaging industry is worth billions of dollars," said Chris Jones from Novalia. "This innovative system we have developed with the University of Sheffield could give manufacturers a way to gain market share by being able to distinguish its products from competitors.

The team is now working on designing and developing fully flexible organic displays on plastic substrates before fixing it onto electronic tracks. Their goal is to create cost-effective and flexible LED devices that can be used on other surfaces.

The paper was published in the IEEE Journal of Display Technology and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research (EPSRC).

Interactive food labels that offer more information about the product would prove to be pivotal for certain products that refuse to include additional data. This is could particularly aid government agencies to track manufacturers that do not provide the correct information.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently released a proposal asking manufacturers to print in their food label the amount of added sugars and what equivalent percentage of the daily recommended sugar intake is taken up by that added sugar.

Photo: Brett Jordan | Flickr

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