Korea leads the way in smart packaging design

Smart packaging is the latest development in the Korean packaging industry ― the technology that enables consumers to connect with and communicate better with products, according to Shim Jin-kie, director of the Korea Packaging Center of the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology.

"Technology creates products and packages that are easy and convenient to use. Some packages will be built with a technology that talks to users about product information, such as how to use it and how many days are left until the expiration date," Shim said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Wednesday.

The Korea Packaging Center, a state-run research and development centre for packaging which opened in 2006, develops new technologies in packaging, offers technological and management advice to mid-sized packaging companies and educates young designers on packaging. It also works in standardization of various measures used in packaging with international organisations.

Smart design is also in line with the move toward sustainability that considers not just environmental impact, but more convenient and easier-to-use products through innovative packaging design.

"We started a project that makes 'talking packages' four years ago and it is now being tested. You place your smartphone near it and a voice will tell you the product information," said Shim, who added he took the idea from people who often lose instructions or warnings usually written on a long sheet of paper inside boxes of medical products.

Smart designs enable consumers of all ages to use products without difficulty.

"There's a new medical pill bottle that has an 'easy cap' on it. The new cap features a pointy device inside that cuts the aluminium foil of the pill bottle when one twists and opens the cap," said Shim.

"Universal design not only protects the content inside the bottle, but also enhances customer convenience," Shim said.

Shim noted innovative packaging design can have unexpected economic effects as diverse fields of technologies are condensed in a single package.

"New packaging technology will also benefit companies. For instance, through talking packages, one can trace the journey of products from store shelves to consumers, which will help companies manage their supply chains," said Shim.

The Korean packaging industry at $30.3 billion a year is larger than the design industry as a whole. Its economic ripple effect generates 159,351 jobs, which contributes to the industry's annual growth rate of 6.8 per cent, higher than the current average growth rate of the economy, according to the Korea Packaging Industry.

"As Korea exports more products, it's going to produce more packages that protect products in varying weather conditions as they are delivered to customers," said Shim.

Shim also toured some ASEAN member countries last week to introduce Korean packaging technologies and the importance of fostering the packaging industry in their growing economies,

"More people should know the importance of packaging. It's a future-oriented industry that creates innovations and new markets," Shim stressed.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)