Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging
Imagine a pill with edible electronics that talks to the disoriented elderly telling them when it is taken and confirming that it is indeed their medication. Perhaps that would make them more disoriented! All these things must be trialled and some will prove a godsend. That follows in the tradition of the billions of Duracell batteries that have been sold with battery testers in the primary packaging for convenience of use. Also in that tradition would be a pack of rice or a pot noodle with a timer in the packaging that you touch to get a beep and a flash when cooking is complete. Brand enhancement indeed.
Energy harvesting electronics, including printed photovoltaics (solar cells), will need no battery or only a fleck of battery yet is affordable on mass produced disposable products. Printed plastic photovoltaics use one thousandth of the material of today's silicon solar cells. It is safely chewable by children and it has no glass to cut you. Indeed, it can be translucent and attractive on packaging and it can be recycled with regular trash.
New report with forecasts
Now there is a report on all this, with latest forecasts. IDTechEx has published Brand Enhancement by Electronics in Packaging 2010-2020 . This report concerns the market for electronic smart packaging devices, increasingly known as "e-packaging". Global demand for these devices will grow rapidly from a mere $0.09 billion in 2010 to $7.7 billion in 2020. Most of this will involve consumer packaged goods (CPG) and particularly their brand enhancement. Separate figures are given for use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) on packaging and Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) on packaging but the main emphasis is brand enhancement rather than brand protection or logistical control.
The rapid growth of brand enhancement by electronics in packaging will be driven by trials now being carried out by leading CPG companies and the rapid technical developments emanating for over 2250 organisations advancing printed and potentially printed flexible electronics and electrics. Half of these are academic. There will also be growth from existing applications such as winking logos on multipacks of biscuits. However, the projected adoption, large as it may seem, only represents a few percent of CPG packages and healthcare packages being fitted with these devices in 2020. At that time, only around 1% of the global expenditure on packaging will involve e-packaging devices but growth in applications and usage will rocket thereafter and, in the meantime, the prospect of a multibillion market in only a few years is quite enough to attract considerable investment by putative suppliers.
The Other category includes industrial, military etc. These sectors need instructions and warranty records etc presented in scrolling text and/or audio on packaging sometimes with a life of twenty years when primary packaging is involved. So far, most e-packaging for brand enhancement has taken the form of primary packaging that makes the product more useful and attractive in the eyes of the consumer.