NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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VTT: Intelligent packages in only a few years thanks to printable electronics and optics
Consumers will benefit from more comprehensive product information stored in the packages

VTT and four universities have joined forces to develop electronics and optics parts enabling novel features and intelligence. These parts can be manufactured on a conventional printing machines. The packages using the new technology contain a great deal more information on the origin, quality and use of the product. They can serve as safety notices on the packages, thereby acting as a certificate of origin. Information in many languages can be stored, for example, in a printed optical memory covering only a few millimetres, which may contain tens of pages of text. Consumers can then read the product information in their respective mother tongues with a mobile telephone camera.

High resolution image (264 Kb)
Photo: VTT
Jungle-game demonstrator on a package: by choosing the right food for an animal the reversible colour change can be observed.
High resolution image (740 Kb)
Photo: VTT
The technology developed by VTT in collaboration with four universities makes it possible to get better-looking pictures onto packages, and also texts displayed to consumers in different languages when viewed from different angles. It is also possible to store large amounts of content information and instructions for use in the optical memory printed on the package.

On the R & D project optical and electronic parts were manufactured on printability testers and on VTT PICO test printing equipment for plastic and paper. These included optical reading memory for text storage, optical image memory, light conductor and basic electronics components. These increase the chances of developing extremely versatile intelligent packages with printing technique in mass production. Active components were also manufactured with printing technology, such as simple displays, solar cells for use as energy sources and a game to be printed on a package.

The research institutes on the project developed the electronics to be created for packages and printed matter by combining expertise in heavy paper, printing and electronics which are strong among Finns. Technologies applicable for cost-effective mass production ensured the companies participating in the project of absolutely novel ideas to develop intelligent packages, consumer perishables and durables, printed products and simple electronic products.

The research project was funded by Tekes, seven Finnish companies and VTT. The research was carried out by VTT, the universities of Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Lapland and Oulu, and in international co-operation with the universities of Arizona and California. The results of the research project have already led to concrete further development. The results of the development work are to be made public at an international closing ceremony in Espoo on 2 February.

More information:

VTT Electronics
Research Professor Harri Kopola
Tel. +358 20 722 2359, +358 40 557 4867
VTT Electronics
Senior Research Scientist Terho Kololuoma
Tel. +35 20 722 2154, +358 40 756 8167
Avantone Oy
Development Manager Raimo Korhonen
Tel. +358 40 703 0052

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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