Tag Archives: interaction

Print, chip, click

Contactless public transport tickets and contactless credit cards are the standards we quickly become accustomed to. Within a few years, as common as them can be printed magazines with NFC chips hidden in paper covers and advertising pages, as well as books, product packaging, labels, tags, brochures, business cards and invitations made with miniature electronics, blurring the boundary between traditional media and the online world.

Arjowiggins Creative Papers, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of the fine paper and luxury packaging is knocking the wall separating print and digital worlds. Its product called PowerCoat Alive developed by Arjowiggins’ operation based in France, is a physical paper sheet made with a flexible printed RFID tag that can interact with a Near Field Communication enabled smartphones and tablets, causing them to reveal information that is pre-programmed on the chip.

Unlike QR codes that only link to external content, mobile NFC-enabled devices trigger data stored in the microchip that is hidden in the paper without the need for third-party reader apps.

PowerCoat Alive is a form of a digital paper combining Arjowiggins’ papers sandwiching a core layer of customizable printed electronic circuits and a microchip. Electronics are pre-applied to the PowerCoat XD paper base using silver ink, and then thin grades of conventional yet quality fine paper are laminated onto both sides. The outer layers may be chosen from the Arjowiggins’ sampler.

PowerCoat Alive papers credits TrendNomad
Outer layers of the “digital paper” may be chosen from the sampler. Photography by TrendNomad.com

PowerCoat Alive sheets can be printed, finished and handled the same as normal papers (though, antenna or the chip must not be embossed or stamped). The paper is delivered ready for all types of printing, including offset, digital, screen printing and flexography. A pre-test is recommended for thermographic printing. PowerCoat Alive paper can be also used with standard inkjet or laser office printers, as long as they accept the thickness of the paper.

As the circuits are invisible, Arjowiggins company suggests using printed symbols to show that the paper is NFC-enabled and to indicate where the hotspots are placed.

PowerCoat Alive paper can be stapled, sewn or bound into a book or a magazine, as long as the chip and antenna are not placed along an edge. Naturally, the paper can be torn, burned and recycled.

The standard 13.56 MHz NFC chip implemented in the paper can interact with many current Android and Windows mobile phones (though, iPhones still does not support NFC). No battery is needed, as radio energy from a mobile device is enough to power the chip.

The communication distance is less than 2 cm. In order for the communication to work, the paper must not be placed on a metal surface or immersed in a liquid. It is also important to not press the microchip on the surface of the paper with an excess pressure. In good storage conditions, the electronic circuits can last for over five years.



1. Packaging, labels, price tags

”Digital paper” allows a consumer to tap an NFC-enabled phone against a tag to learn more information about the product while shopping, or to ensure that the item and a package are authentic and not a fake, receive a discount on its price or a coupon for the next transaction, register the product or receive instructions of how to assemble or use the product after the purchase.


One of the first brands that use smart packaging is Alba1913. Watch the movie above to learn more about Scan Me packaging from this Polish cosmetics brand.

2. Brand loyalty

PowerCoat Alive champagne

The chip embedded into a packaging may link directly to an online shop, so a client can easily place an order for a new piece or a product (for instance, a small jar of high-end cosmetic or a bottle of premium olive oil) at the moment when he or she realises the need for buying a replacement.

3. Printed magazines

PowerCoat Alive magazine ad

Electronics hidden in a cover or an advertising page may link to the additional digital content about the promoted product or service, as well as a direct link to an online store where an instant purchase with a discount may be finalized.

4. Business cards

PowerCoat Alive business card

Any potential clients that you gave your business card can easily scan the card and have your contact information inputted into their contact list on their phone so they never lose it.

5. Event tickets and paper invitations

PowerCoat Alive festival ticket

Clients and guests can simply trigger the data about the event they are going to attend by placing their smartphones on the paper and all the information embedded in the chip would be added right to their digital calendar.

6. Source of data

PowerCoat Alive invitation credits TrendNomad
Photography by TrendNomad.com

The interactivity of PowerCoat Alive extends beyond the customer experience. Brand owners can obtain a tremendous amount of data via dedicated analytics platform allowing them not only to measure the impact of their campaign, but to track and even respond to customer behaviour in real-time, resulting in more personalised, engaging, impactful and efficient campaigns.


To learn more about PowerCoat Alive paper watch the video interview recorded at IDTechEx show that was held in late April 2016 in Berlin.


If you want to ask more questions to Mark Heise regarding PowerCoat Alive, please send him an email at mark.heise@arjowiggins.com. Please note that Mark Heise is PowerCoat Applications Engineer working in the United States, but he will be happy to deliver any information you need and find a distributor in your region.


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A milestone

Will in the near future an immersive storytelling in museums, galleries and places of historical events still be possible without using screens? Two designers from Chomko & Rosier studio know how to harness the storytelling potential of new non-screen-based digital technologies in a way that does not detract visitors from what makes visiting a place unique. An example of this approach is their project named ‘Heart of a King’.

‘Heart of a King’ is a prototype visitor experience designed by the duo Chomko & Rosier for Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity in London that manages and cares for six  royal palaces in the UK. Their project places visitors in the footsteps and emotional state of Charles I on the day of his execution in 1649. Visitors received a wooden, heart-shaped totem. The device creates a haptic heartbeat that acts as a compass, increasing in strength when pointed to Charles’ last path.


Following the heartbeat, visitors trace Charles’ final journey through St James Park and Whitehall, arriving in front of Banqueting House (it is all that remains of the opulent Whitehall Palace, once the largest palace in Europe, a labyrinth of 1,500 rooms), the place of his execution where the heart ceases to beat. On the journey, contextual signage styled as modern street signage gave visitors quotes and further information on 30 January 1649, the day the first English monarch was executed.

The heartbeat acts as a link, a universal human rhythm that allows users to enter the physiological and psychological state of the king Charles I before his execution.

The prototype of ‘Heart of a King’ processes GPS and orientation sensor readings in an Arduino-based microcontroller to modulate the strength of the heartbeat, giving the visitor an immersive, non-digital experience, guided only by the sense of touch.

The heart casings are milled from various hardwoods and finished with linseed oil.

‘Heart of a King’ is a part of the development phase of a multisensory experience named ‘The Lost Palace’. The aim of this project is to immerse visitors in the historical events and to retell stories that took place within the Palace of Whitehall, before fire destroyed it over 300 years ago.

In summer 2016, visitors of central London will uncover what was once considered the most magnificent palace in Europe. Through technical and theatrical innovations, including 3D audio, which is called by the Chomko & Rosier duo ‘a new form of virtual reality’, the spaces, stories and events from the palace will come to life in a multisensory, location-based experience.

To learn more details about ‘Heart of a King’ and ‘The Lost Palace’ projects, please watch the video interview with Matthew Rosier.


Chomko & Rosier design studio creates new ways of engaging with technology. Its founders, Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier, explore why people use technology, where and when it is appropriate and how we should interact with it. Jonathan and Matthew’s ideas bridge interaction design and architecture, resulting in physical, embedded works in public space. The studio’s previous work ‘Shadowing’ has been nominated for Designs of the Year 2015 by London Design Museum.

Chomko Rosier at RE WORK credits Trend Nomad
Photography by Trend Nomad

I spoke to Matthew Rosier at RE.WORK Future Technology Summit in London in Autumn 2015. If you have any questions regarding ‘Heart of a King’ or any other work by Chomko & Rosier, please feel free to contact Matthew at matthew@chomkorosier.com.


Do you like the article? Then buy me a coffee! You can donate a small sum of money using your PayPal account or credit card. All donations will finance my journeys to fairs, festivals and conferences devoted to design and new technology – this is where I find news for my blog. Just click the button below to perform a secure transaction. Thank you for your support, it will help me to take a step forward and write new posts.

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