8 things you’d never have thought you could print in 2017

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 Recipes that are quite literally cooked; chocolate bars with your mum’s face on them; fast-food trays that turn into smartphone speakers; magazines you can only read if you’ve had enough vitamin D… These are just some of the bright ideas that became reality in the printing world in 2017. The Print in a Digital World 2018 report by St. Joseph Communications reviews the technologies that have led to the most creative innovations.

1. Augmented reality

French DIY retailer Castorama has created wallpaper that generates bedtime stories. Using an app, Mum or Dad can point the camera of their smartphone or tablet at one of the host of characters depicted on the wallpaper and receive a story about the character. Two characters can also be combined, generating hundreds of different tales.

2. Customisation

Over 55,000 KitKat packs personalised with a photo of the recipient were delivered in 2017. Consumers who bought promotional KitKats received a code that they could enter on the brand’s website to see if they’d won a personalised wrapper. Lucky customers could then upload a favourite photo and receive a pack bearing that image.

3. Sensors

Tostitos, a US tortilla chip brand, produced a series of limited-edition packets for the Super Bowl. The bags had a built-in sensor able to detect alcohol on the breath. If the sensor detected alcohol, an image of a red steering wheel and a code for Uber would appear on the packet, allowing consumers to get home without driving.

4. Edible ink

IKEA made a series of posters called “Cook This Page”. The poster featured a drawing of a recipe’s ingredients (for example, outlines of prawns, a slice of lemon etc.). All users had to do was put the raw ingredients on the corresponding drawings. They then rolled up the poster, put it in the oven and ate the contents once ready.

5. Thermochromic ink

Sports-shoe brand ASICS launched a special two-page ad in Brazilian magazines. Readers could put the ad on the ground and step on it with bare feet. A special thermochromic ink would then react to the feet’s heat to create visible footprints. Readers could then compare their footprints with a graphic showing the footprints made by the three different foot types, thereby allowing them to choose the best shoe type for their foot.

6. Photosensitive ink

UAEs insurance company Daman created a striking campaign to raise customer awareness of vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight exposure, which can cause bone and muscle problems. The Daman ad had an invisible message, which would only appear if the magazine it was featured in was exposed to sunlight for a sufficient amount of time: exactly the duration required for the reader to receive the recommended daily amount of sunlight to synthesise vitamin D.

7. Smart boxes

The McDonald’s Boombox, which hit the streets of Toronto last summer, is a normal cardboard tray that can be folded in a special way to transform it into an amplifier for your smartphone. Simply insert your device to double the volume of sound that it emits.

8. Artificial intelligence and photography

Terres des Femmes, an NGO that campaigns for women’s rights, ran a powerful campaign in a photo booth in Berlin. When somebody stepped inside for a photo, an algorithm analysed their face to see whether they were a woman. If they were, one of the four photos was digitally altered to show cuts and bruises on the face. The photo was accompanied by a message explaining that one in four women in Germany is a victim of domestic violence.

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