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Taking a Look at More of the New Innovations with Smart Labeling

January 19, 2015

The label and packaging industry is constantly changing and becoming much friendlier towards consumers. One of the most important innovations that we have all been reading a lot about and staring at in awe at trade shows, are smart labels. We have discussed smart labels a bit in the past on our News & Sticky Notes Blog, but we wanted to take a more in depth look into some other new innovations with these "active labels".

Smart labels are becoming much cheaper to manufacture due to technological advancements, so as the prices drop, more manufacturers will be taking advantage of them. These smart labels benefit the consumers greatly, and two things that are very important are convenience and trust.

There are different types of smart labels that will start being seen more frequently on store shelves. Some of these are meant to be used with smartphones, while others will react with the packaging or will change based on the time they are on shelves.

Data Exchange Technology

A popular use of data exchange technology is "Near Field Communication", or NFC.  Smartphones these days are all equipped with the technology to read these NFC codes, all that is required is an app to properly obtain the data.

With NFC technology, it is easy for manufacturers to provide additional information to their customers about a product. Printing the codes on labels will add another layer of trust for the brand, because the more people know about a product, the more likely they are to become a loyal customer.

This smart label technology will change the way we shop since now we will now exactly when products will expire, how long they have been in the packaging, and how long they have been sitting on the shelf. This is educating consumers about what they will be eating, so in addition to the trust factor, it is also helping to make their buying decisions easier.

In-Mold Labeling

In-Mold labeling is a form of digital watermarking that allows the manufacturer to embed hidden machine readable images and information within the graphics on the package. This hidden image cannot be seen by the human eye, only machines that are specifically designed to read the hidden image will be able to see it.

This takes things a step further than just watermarking a label since this will be permanently embedded into the package itself when it is being manufactured. This can add increased security and will be a deterrent from counterfeit products. In mold labeling is added to the package when it is first manufactured, usually within an injection molding machine.

Bump Mark Labels

One of the most interesting new types of packaging technology was invented by a 22 year old name Solveiga Pakstaite. She was inspired to create the technology after spending time in college working with the blind. They are appropriately called “bump labels”, and they work over time on food products with expiration dates.

The idea was based off of Braille, so when the labels are first attached they are smooth. As the product sits on store shelves and gets closer to the expiration date, the labels slowly start to develop small bumps.

These labels take advantage of another organic product that has a similar deterioration pattern as most foods, gelatine. These small labels are filled with a formula made from gelatine, and the formula is adjusted for different types of products depending on how fast they go bad.

Pakstaite has stated that the label is accurate with any type of food, the concentration of the gelatine formula just needs to be adjusted to the type of packaged food. Gelatine reacts to environmental changes just like foods, so when the formula is adjusted properly, it the label will deteriorate at the same rate as the food.

Solveiga Pakštaité also gave this example: “Say you want to put Bump Mark on a pack of strawberries, you’d estimate how many days they’d last at the optimum temperature and match the gelatine formula so it would also last the same amount. The more gelatine per water in the formula, the more bonds there are, so the longer it will take for the gelatine to break down. For items that don’t last as long, like meat and milk, you’d lessen the amount of gelatine in the formula”.

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