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DNP to add invisible smart ink to printed media

Japan-based Dai Nippon Printing has signed a partnership deal with US startup T+ink, developer of an invisible conductive ink technology that can be used to let consumers interact with books, magazines, advertising, tickets, product packaging and other printed media using a smartphone or other mobile device.


The technology can be used to provide detailed product information, coupons and promotions, digital media and for product authentication, T+ink says.

Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) will offer the “thinking ink” technology to its more than 30,000 corporate clients across print products including books, magazines, promotional items, packaging and game cards.

To access a link stored using T+ink’s Touchcode technology, consumers simply hold an item to their phone’s touch screen to enable the device to read the non-visible conductive pattern of ink. The device will then be connected via an online platform to the originator’s choice of content.

“It’s all based on capacitive coupling,” chief creative officer John Gentile explained to NFC World+. “What we have done is we have created an ink system that has two stages. The first stage involves printing the non-visible Touchcode pattern on tickets, credit cards or whatever the printed medium may be.

“Then the Touchcode enabled product when held by the user, which actually powers the ink code simply by their touch, is recognised by the smart phone or device and creates the information within the program that reads the ink pattern itself.”

“The ink connects us to our cloud, the T+ios network, and that then enables the information to go to the user and it also allows us to track the user and track the user’s interaction with the product that contains the Touchcode. We have the ability to change the information that is going to that consumer everyday, every hour, and we can also be very specific because we know where the consumer is because of their smart device.”

“For example, we can send some very specific content to somebody in the US who is touching their cereal box that has a Touchcode on it. The information they receive could be completely different information to the information someone else receives who is doing exactly the same thing with the exact same code in the UK. It is location specific; we can upload anything, so the backend is unlimited.”

“Some scenarios where you could see the Touchcode system working is firstly in authentication. A lot of products have problems with knock-offs of their products, whether cigarettes or liquor, so by putting Touchcode on the product, you are able to verify that it is a genuine product,” Gentile explained. “Other scenarios will include rich media such as sending out promotions, discounts, loyalty programs, inventory control and advertising.

“In comparison to using NFC or RFID technology, it is much cheaper. There is nothing really cheaper than ink out there. We also do not need to embed anything into the product such as a chip or antenna. Our clients can print their products in the way they do now, in any standard print process from offset to flexo or screen and simply would put our ink through the process instead.”

“Touchcode has been live in the gaming industry for the last few months and, on the back of that, bigger projects are coming down the line in late 2014 and 2015,” Gentile added. “You will see Touchcode across many platforms, everything that may include fast food type promotions all the way up to authentication and security applications.”

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