Augmented-reality technology is enhancing the volume, the scope and nature of the information that modern labels can provide. It requires sophisticated printing, but the sky is the limit, says Manny Da Silva, Manager – Industrial Print at Konica Minolta South Africa
As brand owners increasingly bring digital functions in-house and start producing their own labels, the range of what they are producing is also expanding. Nutraceutical labels, health-and-beauty material, promotional content, even entertainment is finding a place on product labels.
Industrial labelling is also becoming a hot sector, as new label legislation is implemented, requiring greater accuracy.
However, labels are physically finite, limited by the dimensions of product and packaging. If they are to truly provide all they can for both manufacturer and customer, they must deliver digitally. Here, augmented reality (AR) offers almost limitless opportunities for label printers.
AR combines real-world views with digital content. Users simply download an app, then scan the label to access videos, cartoons, audio files or other content and information relevant to the product.
This delivers an unprecedented level of interactivity and more sophisticated functionality. Take the example of a wine enthusiast who buys an expensive bottle of wine but stores it and only opens it five years later. Augmented reality allows the wine label to automatically update, so that when it is scanned after five years, it can provide topical, relevant information on what the wine drinker can expect today.
The opportunities that AR technology provides for businesses to upsell, cross-promote and generally make their products stand out are almost limitless. However, the success of any AR label technology depends heavily on the quality of the label itself.
AR relies on the printing of sophisticated markers. Smartphone cameras must be able to pick up those markers accurately for the AR content to appear, which makes it crucial that the printed label be highly accurate in terms of colour reproduction, fidelity and crispness.
A printer such as the Konica Minolta Accurio Label 190 provides just this functionality, helping customers to innovate and compete more effectively in a changing world. This technology opens up new opportunities for printers who need small volumes of labels but require sophisticated options such as the ability to print barcodes or AR markers.
With the bigger printers already receiving strong demand for AR-enabled labels, it’s only a matter of time before AR labels go mainstream. When they do, and when the full possibilities of digital printing are realised, the most successful label printers will be those who have the right equipment in place to meet demand.