Intelligent packaging formats vary, but they all share the ability to sense and signal change in a product or package. Once a variable can be measured—be it location, temperature or product quality—that variable can ultimately be controlled to the benefit of manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
RFID tags, for example, are used as location sensors and signalers for inventory tracking. It was Wal-Mart’s 2004 mandate that suppliers place RFID tags on shipping crates that brought the technology into the spotlight. In the coming years, as industry adoption increases, RFID technology will likely be applied directly to packaging (and more often than bar codes or two dimensional PDF codes) with far greater capacity to accelerate information exchange.
Time Temperature Integrators
Packaging that Interacts with Appliances
Biosensors to Signal Food Safety/Quality Changes
One rational voice has emerged in the cacophony. Auburn University’s professor James Barbaree heads a multidisciplinary research team that has been probing the potential of biosensors to signal microbiological growth. Dr. Barbaree’s Detection and Food Safety team is marrying the latest in microbiological detection with electronic sensing, recording and signaling technologies to suggest that a valid packaging technology might be commercialized in the near future.
It’s complicated—but such technology often is. Interestingly, professor Barbaree says RFID, which is chiefly touted for location and identification purposes, might be the vehicle for achieving the desired result. A twist on the activity surrounding RFID—that beyond its cost-savings attributes, the technology might be used to actually save lives. BP
The author, Aaron L. Brody, Ph.D., is President/CEO of Packaging/Brody Inc., a consultancy in food, packaging technology and marketing. Contact Dr. Brody at 770.613.0991 or email@example.com.