April 8, 2013
AR Metallizing at the brink of creating "smart", disposable metallized paper touch pads.
For many consumer goods and beverage companies, labels allowing customers to effectively interact with their brand, are considered the Holy Grail. Similarly, they are seeking solutions to allow their boxed products to communicate with the consumer. With a newly developed application for metallized paper, this ambitious goal might be closer than the industry could have hoped for.
Based on research carried out at
(researchers Mazzeo, Kalb, Chan, Killian, Bloch and Whitesides) and collaborations with institutes in
, a specially developed paper has been demonstrated to yield sufficient capacitive properties to be used as a "touch pad", entirely made of paper. After a straightforward laser etching, followed by connection with cheap electronic interfaces, the paper can be used to detect consumer's "touch" like a smart phone's touch pad. This product, however, is at a fraction of the production cost. Also, by using metallized paper, which is re-pulpable like ordinary paper, it is environmentally friendly. Other advantages in this option include that metallized paper can be easily glued onto surfaces (like a label) or folded or laminated in three-dimensional shapes (like boxes), unlike glass surfaces or thick films.
The researchers and AR Metallizing envisaged and tested prototypes for applications such as: touch sensitive labels, interactive book covers, food labels and boxes, interactive games on cereal boxes, multi-digit disposable code pads on shipping boxes, and even entire paper-based keyboards.
How it works: when a person touches the paper-based surface, the capacitance increases. When connected to external circuitry and electronics (all of which can be cheap and multi-use), this change in capacitance can be detected and messages or signals transferred. Through etching, multiple, discrete capacitors can be put on two simple metallized paper sheets, placed next to each other. Testing showed that over 2000 touches are possible without altering the functioning. These technological and economical breakthroughs allow for the "smart package" to be environmentally green. It can be disposed of after use, with no impact on the environment.