Smarter Packaging: Connecting to the Connected Revolution

Way back in 1999, Kevin Ashton, an associate brand manager at Procter & Gamble, coined the term “Internet of Things” to define the concept of a network of billions of uniquely identifiable network-connected objects. Since then, it has been a topic of discussion and interest for consumer products companies and packaging innovation professionals.

The Internet of Things
While the vast majority of man-made objects still lack intelligence or network connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT) is attracting significant investment and media attention.

  • CBInsights, a New York-based venture capital research firm, reports that start-ups focusing on the IoT attracted $1.1 billion in investments across 153 deals last year, an 11 percent jump in the number of deals from the previous year.
  • Xerox estimates the global market for flexible, printed, and organic electronics to be over $1 billion, and is expected to reach $45 billion by 2016.
  • International Data Corporation (IDC), projects revenues from technology and services related to the IoT to grow 8.8 percent annually to $7.3 trillion by 2017
  • Freedonia Group research report predicts demand for active and intelligent packaging in the US will expand 8.0 percent annually to $3.5 billion in 2017, well above total packaging demand growth.

This growth will include label, tag, and packaging applications for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, tobacco products, consumer goods, and will expand to include toys, smart cards, e-cigarettes, consumer electronics, building products, healthcare, fashion, security, and anti-counterfeit applications. Already, RR Donnelley, Bemis, Brady, and others have entered the printed electronics field, and both Kodak and Hewlett Packard have announced commitments to functional printing.

Think Outside the Box
To take advantage of this shift and the opportunities it offers, packaging printers and converters need to develop new capabilities, skills and knowledge that include printed electronics, 3D printing and other functional printing processes. Packaging designers need to think about how the IoT can change performance characteristics and user experiences. Brand managers need to consider user experiences can be enhanced based on insights derived from data analytics made possible via intelligent packaging.

GAA Printed Electronics Symposium
To learn how you can increase the value and effectiveness of packaging in the Internet of Things, plan to attend the Gravure Association of the Americas Printed Electronics Symposium (2014 GAAmericas Printed Electronics, Functional Printing & Intelligent Packaging Symposium) being held at Clemson University’s Sonoco Institute June 23-24.

The theme is Forging Effective Design-to-Commercialization Value Chains. Topics to be addressed include:

  • Product & Packaging Connectivity: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  • The business case for printed electronics, functional printing and intelligent packaging
  • Design tools, standards and roadmaps for printed electronic products, intelligent packaging
  • The convergence of printed electronics, functional printing and packaging
  • Intellectual property licensing issues and best practices in innovation
  • Substrates, functional inks, coatings, adhesives and processes for printed electronics

This symposium offers packaging printers and converters a unique opportunity to network with a diverse group of subject matter experts who can help you develop fresh insights about how to increase the value and effectiveness of packaging, and how to connect your businesses to the connected revolution.

About the Author
Don Carli is CEO of Nima Hunter, which specializes in the development and deployment of strategies for business transformation and sustainable growth. He can be reached at

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