Printed Electronics - The Magic Arrives
Electronic circuits that are wholly or substantially printed are a commercial success today. Companies such as T-ink, E Ink, Toppan Forms, Soligie, GSI, Electroluminate, Schreiner, Delphi, Avery Dennison and Power Paper are selling printed electronic products to many famous brands such as Timberland, Caterpillar, Sears Craftsman, Hallmark, Toys R Us, John Dickinson, Kent, McDonald's, Estee Lauder, Ford, Toyota, GM, Playtex, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Duracell, NTT DoCoMo and Sony. Brand enhancement is a popular theme, from the tester on a battery to the animated display on a recent edition of Esquire magazine and the heated outdoor apparel of many famous brands.
The world's largest conference on the subject will once again take place in the San Francisco area - Printed Electronics USA in San Jose on December 3-4 - and will be truly international. See www.IDTechEx.com/peUSA. On past trends, attendance will be about 800 and there will be a large exhibition. Although most of the speakers at the conference and optional Masterclasses are from the USA, powerhouse of this new industrial opportunity, the foreign contribution is substantial as shown below:
Achieving the impossible
Printed electronics employs state of the art physics and chemistry to achieve what was thought impossible only recently. This is reflected in sessions such as one on "Healthcare and Bionic Man" and another on "Smart Substrates and Stretchable Electronics". Electronics as art is covered as is a broad sweep of printed and thin film components, including ones potentially using graphene. Add the new metamaterials based on micropatterning by flexo printing. They promise the cloak of invisibility and previously impossible electrical, electronic and optical components. Pioneers Imperial College London reveal, "Metamaterials - for Super Lenses and Invisibility Cloaks from DC to Optics".
Transforming the human interface - staggeringly better brand enhancement
Probably one of the hottest topics this year is how, after 1000 years of static print, the human interface is now starting to use many of our senses instead of one. Never forget that one in three Americans has difficulty reading instructions because they are sight-impaired, illiterate, dyslexic etc and print is being made ever smaller to get everything in - a bizarre failure for a nation that got to the moon nearly forty years ago. For example, e-labels and e-packaging will employ electronic texture change, controlled aroma emission, localised sound and recording and many interactive features. This is therefore about transforming brands, not just saving lives when up to 25% of medication accidents are down to failure to comprehend written instructions and from lack of prompts from the package. Avery Dennison gives a case study of printed electronics in consumer goods. A key to this is for brand managers and brand facing suppliers to employ creative design using this new kit of parts instead of languishing in the wrong century. That is covered too.