You’ve probably heard of the Internet of Things.
It’s the trend toward including internet access in everyday items like washing machines, fridges, heating systems, and security systems.
Many are now controlled by home hubs or smartphone apps which can turn on your heating or lights, or monitor your home’s security.
When it comes to packaging, smart technology is about to revolutionise the industry.
Several businesses in the food and pharmaceutical industries are experimenting with connected packaging, giving them real-time information about how their customers use their products.
For example, it could give sauce manufacturers details about how users squeeze the bottle or how easy it is to open the lid.
That would feed back into research and development for the next generation of sauce bottles.
It might also give important information about how quickly a product is used.
Analysts predict that the health and beauty and pharmaceutical industries, and lifestyle businesses will be early-adopters of this technology.
In the pharmaceutical industry, there are many potential applications.
How about a pill bottle which alerts a pharmacy if an elderly relative forgets to open the lid and take their medication?
Or, a bottle which only disposes an exact, safe dose?
These developments are not too far in the future. There is already a bottle with an alarm system which warns patients a dose of medication is due.
How does smart packaging work?
Technology already allows manufacturers and distributors to:
- Monitor the shelf life of a product
- Respond to changes in the environment
- Communicate the history, condition, and information about a product to a user – in France, consumers can read the stories of the previous users of their recycled bottle
- Help ensure product security
The use of computer chips and sensors in packaging is set to expand rapidly in the next few years.
They can be used to send information back to the manufacturer or another ‘hub’ like a pharmacy or health centre.
US-based drinks brand Gatorade, owned by PepsiCo, is developing a water bottle with a smart cap containing hidden sensors and a microchip alongside a smart sweat patch to be worn by athletes and weekend runners.
Professional sports teams in the USA are already trialling the system and early prototypes were used by the Brazilian football team during the 2014 World Cup.
The sweat patch calculates how much moisture is being lost by the athlete, while the smart cap records real-time data on the athlete’s hydration.
This information is then sent to the coach who can monitor the situation.
Field trials are also giving athletes visual alerts on bottles when they should be hydrating
The company is also set to launch small, snap-on pods to add to the bottles of its drink – adding different levels of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and calories to keep athletes at their peak performance.
The smart cap and sweat patch are expected to be released onto the commercial market either later this year or in 2018.
Professional athletes are expected to get the first chance to buy these systems this summer.
So, is smart packaging right for your business?
The cost of materials will play a key role in determining which businesses adopt the new technology in the next few years.
Potentially, there are huge benefits in helping you develop user-friendly packaging designs, alerting your business to usage trends, and giving your customers added value.
Do you need advice on packaging for your business? Call Menshen’s experts on 02920 473147. Find out more about our range here: http://menshen.co.uk/.