But according to Larry Logan, senior marketing and brand executive, Digimarc, based in Portland, Oregon, that is no longer the case today and claims its Digimarc Barcode has the potential to fundamentally change retail and packaging globally.
Digimarc 'enables an ecosystem of connected devices', like smartphones and machine vision systems to identify content of all kinds, based on GS1 standard data or proprietary information.
“Digimarc Barcode is a visually imperceptible barcode that is replicated up to hundreds of times across a package or label using no special inks or printing process,” he said.
“Although humans cannot discern the code, it can be discovered by machine devices such as a smartphone, front of store scanner or machine vision on a manufacturing line or in warehouse distribution.
“For manufacturers, we turn packaging into digital narrators for their brands. Consumers can scan anywhere on a package and be linked to all the information a brand would want to share but can’t be conveyed owing to the package design or size.
“The same barcode also provides enterprise level benefits in a wide range of manufacturing and supply chain processes.
“For retailers, we make packages scan faster and more easily, without the cashier having to orient the package to present the UPC code to the scanner window. We also provide enterprise benefits here, such as inventory control, planogram compliance, and much more.”
Logan will be attending this year’s Active & Intelligent Packaging Summit (June 4-5) in Jersey City, US, where he will be hosting a discussion on ‘The Hidden ROI’s of the Connected Package’ on Tuesday, June 5, from 2.30pm–3pm.
The Internet of Things
“Digimarc was an early pioneer in the Internet of Things, and today we have created the most versatile and reliable means of discovery in packaging, labels, print and audio/video,” he added.
“There are 5 billion barcodes scanned each day, and we have partnered with members of GS1, the international standards body, to deliver what is a more reliable and efficient means of product identification and discovery.
“Our mission is to give every object an identity. By giving these objects an identity, they can tell their stories.
“Their story might be the provenance of the product, such as farm to table product transparency. It might be ‘who I am and what to do with me’ as a product follows the journey from manufacturing to the store to the home. It might be ‘I am meant for a different purpose, or I do not have permission to be in this territory.’ Or, ‘I can make it easier to scan me in the self-checkout line and reduce your waiting time.’
“For consumers, the story may be the means to create greater brand affinity by creating a more meaningful, 1:1 relationship with the brand. And, as a more reliable and efficient mean of brand activation.”
Logan said by including identities in objects, such as product packaging, computers and digital devices, people can better interact with the world around them.
As an example, he added all forms of symbologies and packaging have their strengths and weaknesses and with the Digimarc Barcode, there are no incremental marginal costs per unit, as with NFC (Near-Field Communication) strips and it does not take up packaging ‘real estate’ as with QR codes.
Mobile savvy consumers
“Today’s consumers want more from their packaging. These mobile savvy consumers aren’t satisfied merely with the old descriptive drivers of desire, such as taste,” said Logan.
“They are seeking the new, evolving drivers such as provenance (where and how grown), how the product affects health and wellness, social impacts, and safety and transparency.
“But how can a package deliver this information when product packages are being downsized, and packaging real estate is already exhausted from encroaching legal disclosures and government regulatory information, not to mention the visual noise from QR codes?”
Digimarc recently delivered multiple experiences of a single Digimarc Barcode announcing support for the SmartLabel app at TransparencyIQ in Chicago, in May this year and integration with Windows 10 by Microsoft.
The SmartLabel program was developed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute, collectively known as the Trading Partner Alliance (TPA), to give consumers digital access to detailed product information than could fit on a package.
The free SmartLabel app incorporates the Digimarc Mobile SDK, where people can scan product packages with the Digimarc Barcode.
Jim Flannery, senior executive VP, GMA, said as manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods continue to adopt SmartLabel it will continue to leverage new and emerging technology, enabling consumers to access the information however that consumer wants to do so.
Windows 10 update
In April, Digimarc Corporation announced a 15-year partnership with Microsoft including integration of Digimarc scanning software into Windows, as part of the Windows 10 update.
The two companies have a history of working together to improve retailer operational efficiency and increase consumer engagement with products.
“Microsoft continually evaluates technologies in the service of adding greater functionality to Windows developers and end users and the Digimarc technology brings great value to Windows 10 and its users,” said David Lemson, director, program management, Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft.
Using standard Windows APIs, developers can benefit from scanning common traditional barcodes found in retail, including QR codes, Digimarc Barcode, and DWCode by GSI.
Potential applications can leverage detection and scanning capabilities within Digimarc software to enable retail associate applications and unlimited consumer scenarios. The companies will work together to expand support for additional use cases in future releases.