Color matching just got a little easier and lot more accurate with Pantone LLC's release of a handheld device named CAPSURE™. The ultra-portable device measures the color of any any surface — including highly textured textiles and small, multi-colored patterns — and matches it to a PANTONE® Color. A hundred colors at a time can be stored on the device for easy reference. Image capture technology lets users preview what they are measuring with CAPSURE™ on its 1.75-inch color screen in real time. Those images are then stored on the device for later reference along with the captured colors. The device also has the ability to suggest harmonious shades and identify related colors that are lighter, darker or similar in tone to the captured colors. CAPSURE™ comes pre-loaded with all PANTONE® Color Libraries, allowing users to match more than 8,000 colors. Assuming that it works as stated on Pantone's website, (as I haven't tried the device myself) I imagine that anyone who needs to accurately identify and match colors would love to get a CAPSURE in their Christmas stocking this year. Many graphic designers, do-it-yourselfers, paint retailers, and interior designers will likely have this device on their wish lists this holiday season. But with a retail price of $649, I'm not sure how many Christmas stockings the CAPSURE will actually show up in this year. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this device, especially if you are a designer. Do you think it is worth the price tag? Why or why not?
Clinique is currently running a two-page advertisement featuring a QR code in the top fashion magazine Vogue. The text next to the QR code, which is prominently displayed next to the company logo at the end of the ad copy, instructs the consumer to, "Use your smart phone to scan this code or visit m.clinique.com/evenbetter for a special offer when you discover Even Better Clinical."
When this QR code is scanned, the smart phone user is taken to Clinique's mobile website offering a coupon for free shipping for online orders. The blog 2D Barcode Strategy points out, however, that this only actually happens if the user has the appropriate QR scanner app installed on their smart phone. I wonder if the company was right to assume that smart phone users are familiar enough with technology to know that they need an app to scan the QR code, or if Clinique was taking a shortcut by not explicitly explaining the QR code and how to use it within the ad space. And if the skincare company did indeed cut corners, will Clinique's shortcut slow consumer adaption and acceptance of 2D codes and related technology?
What do you think? Is this a step forward or backward for the widespread integration of the QR code in consumer consciousness?
Here in Colorado most people (including myself) were born somewhere else and moved here as an adult. Those people lucky enough to be born in Colorado are called Colorado Natives. Now, a new beer from Coors is taking advantage of this idea. But that is not the real story here.
In many ways Colorado Native Lager is breaking new ground. The product label uses a new technology, it is not being marketed in the traditional way, it is only being sold in Colorado , and it only uses Colorado suppliers in its manufacture. They claim that it is brewed from 99.8% Colorado grown ingredients.
I was curious about all this so I went out this morning and bought myself a six-pack of this new beer. Obviously, what interested me most is the new technology on the label. The back label has something I have never seen before - it is a new kind of "code" called a SnapTag.
I have written about QR codes many times before - they are the little black and white square boxes that usually take you to a web site when you scan them with your phone's camera. Well these little QR codes sometimes give graphic designers fits because they are not that visually appealing. Enter the SnapTag. It was developed by Colorado company, SpyderLynk, as a more attractive way of tracking consumer behavior.
As you can see in the picture here a SnapTag is pretty simple. It contains your logo inside a broken circle. The consumer then takes a photo of the circle with their cell phone and sends the image to the phone number displayed in the tag. What happens next is up to the individual company. With Colorado Native Lager (once you have verified your age) you can then interact with the company through text messages.
The breaks in the circle is the key to the code. You could have multiple different circles inside one production run to create different tests. SpyderLynk explains all the various uses of SnapTags on their web site.
It is too early to tell yet whether or not SnapTags will catch on. But the people at Coors obviously believe in this technology enough to make it a cornerstone of their new beer. It uses a different approach than QR codes so it is possible that both technologies will end up being successful. One thing is for sure though. People will continue to interact with product labels more and both QR codes and SnapTags take advantage of this trend.
One of the other curious things about Colorado Native Lager is that it is only being marketed through social media channels such as Facebook. No TV or magazine ads for this beer. That in itself is fascinating to me, but that's a topic for a future blog post.
It will be interesting to see how the story of Colorado Native Lager develops. I will be following with close interest. And tonight I will crack open one of these beers and see how it actually tastes.
Miller Lets New Craft Beer Speak for Itself - Advertsing Age
Colorado brews up tradition and technology - The Package Unseen blog
Colorado Native Lager - The Dieline
WhatTheyThink is the online leader when it comes to news and information about the printing industry. I have been reading their articles and watching their videos for years. So when they invited me to come by for a video session at the recent DSCOOP conference in Dallas I jumped at the chance.
They asked me to talk about our new iPhone label quoting app called iLabel. Check out the video here.
Is 2010 going to be the year that QR codes break out into the mainstream? It could well be. I am seeing QR codes in more and more places these days.
There have been many articles in industry publications about QR codes lately. Just yesterday, Barb Pellow from Infotrends wrote a fascinating article that suggested maybe 2010 is the year where QR codes start reaching their potential in this country. Last month Packaging News in the UK had a detailed article on their web site that provided some examples of recent uses of QR codes on packaging. They make the point that in Japan it is rare to find a product today that does not have a QR code on the product label or packaging.
In this country we are still yet to see many products utilize this technology on their packaging labels. But I believe it is coming. Within the next 12 months I think you will see several mainstream products add QR codes to their packaging.
Packaging is a logical fit for QR codes. Right now when you pick an item off the supermarket shelf, the only information you have to make a buying decision is based on what is included on the product label. Imagine if you could just whip out your camera phone, take a picture of the QR code and be instantly taken to a web site that contains more information on the product. There you could be presented with recipe ideas, preparation and serving tips, instructional photos and videos, and other product benefits. The ideas are endless.
I believe it is inevitable that we will see QR codes on product labels. There is so much benefit for the consumer and the product manufacturer. But right now there is an opportunity. Most likely, you can still be the first company in your industry niche to do this. You will have the added advantage of creating some buzz around your labels by including a QR code.
Of course, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to print your QR codes on your product labels. We can help you create it, although it is so easy you can also do it yourself. In a few years we will wonder how we ever lived without QR codes but right now it is just getting started. You can be one of the pioneers.
Earlier this month over 100,000 businesses around the country received a QR code sticker from Google that looks like the one here. These stickers were sent to the most popular businesses in Google's Local Business Center database. The idea is for companies to stick this postcard sized sticker in their front window.
I have written about QR codes before here and here. For a quick recap, QR codes are two dimensional barcodes that use the cameras in smartphones to direct people to web sites. You can see the QR code in the bottom right corner of Google's sticker. QR codes are very popular in Japan, and no doubt after this move by Google they will become more popular in this country.
Why would Google spend all this money sending these stickers out for free? Of course, they want more traffic to their web site. When you scan the QR code in these stickers, it takes you to the local listing for the business on Google with reviews, photos, and perhaps coupons.
It will be interesting to see how much this really spurs adoption of QR codes here. I can see a day in the not too distant future where most businesses have one of these stickers in their front window.
Now, you don't have to wait for Google to send you one, you can create your own QR code sticker that directs people to your web site right now. You can create a graphic file of your QR code by using a QR code generator site such as Delivr or Kaywa. Then you can print it yourself or, of course, Lightning Labels will be happy to print these stickers for you.
Xerox recently announced a breakthrough that could have wide ranging implications for a number of industries. The researchers at Xerox have invented a new ink that can be printed on paper or plastic like normal inks, but this silver ink has a special property - it can conduct electricity. This is a huge development for the new field of printed electronics. In the future, many electrical components such as simple screens, sensors, solar cells, and radio antennae will not be manufactured by traditional fabrication plants, they will be printed. What this means for the label industry is that a product label may have a regular printed component as well as some kind of electrical device built into the label itself. This electrical device could replace the barcode for identification, or it could be something much more sophisticated such as a video screen. We are not there yet, but when this technology becomes mainstream it will transform many industries. I predict we will start to see some of this become mainstream in the next three to five years. We have already seen some interesting developments that I have written about recently that gives an idea of what we can expect. Related Articles PrintedElectronicsNow.com - New Silver Ink Developed by Xerox Digital Beat - Xerox develops silver ink for wearable or throwaway electronics
I was brushing my teeth this morning and looking at all the products on our bathroom countertop. My wife had been cleaning out our cabinets so everything was on the counter. I was struck by how many product labels I could see. When I counted them all there were 56 different products with product labels - above is a photo of about half of them. Now, not every product has a physical label on it - several products such as toothpaste are screen printed with all the product details printed directly on to the container. But the vast majority of products use physical labels adhered to bottles. Even major consumer products like Listerine that probably print millions of labels at a time have decided that a paper label is the best way to identify their product. Despite all the technological advances of the last few years, the best way to identify and market your product at the point of sale is with a colorful product label. And with today''s high quality digital label printing, that is perfect for short runs, tiny companies can compete with the likes of Johnson & Johnson. You might not have the marketing clout of the big companies but your product can have a label that is every bit as good.
Earlier this month, Occipital, LLC, released the first accurate barcode scanning application for the iPhone. Named RedLaser, the application allows serious shoppers to compare in-store prices with online ones in under a minute, and is available as a $1.99 USD download at the Apple iPhone App Store. Here’s how it works: while browsing the aisles of your favorite store, you spot the digital camera you know your son has had his eye on for quite some time. His birthday is coming up, and it’s on sale. It seems like a great deal, but to be sure you pull out your iPhone and use it to take a picture of the barcode on the camera. Viola! Your iPhone instantly displays a list of online product prices from Google product search and Amazon. RedLaser tells you Amazon is offering the camera for 10% less than the store you are standing in is — and Amazon’s also offering free shipping. You then email yourself the information for the camera as a reminder to purchase the product online when you return home. As of now, RedLaser only scans UPC and EAN barcodes, and is sometimes unable to scan tiny ones. The makers of the product, however, say they are working on improving the functionality of the application, and upgrade its "brains" as often as once a day.
Last month on the Eye on Packaging blog, David Bellm featured this interesting video. It is the brainchild of Capsule, a packaging design firm in Minneapolis. Before you become alarmed Gobee Rocket Rations is a fictitious product. The video was created for the Packaging That Sells Expo in Chicago as part of their Futuristic Packaging Gallery video series. The idea of the series is to challenge package design firms to think about what might be possible in the future. Whether or not we will have children's drinks that interact and inform, one thing is for sure, product labels and packaging are going to become more intelligent. With the advances in electronic ink and printed electronics the label printer of the future will need to know as much about electronics as they do about ink.