Functional Ink Innovator Develops Anti-Microbial Face Mask for General Use

Liquid X, a manufacturer of functional metallic inks for e-textiles, is using their proprietary, OEKO-TEX certified particle-free silver ink to create the ComforTeX line of washable, reusable, and comfortable face masks. Designed for general use, the anti-microbial face masks remove over 95% of the tiny droplets and particles suspended in the air (aerosols).

Each mask includes a pocket for the SecruiTeX filter insert which features an antimicrobial coating for extra protection against micrororganisms. The coating is produced with Liquid X metallic inks that have inherent antimicrobial properties.

Over the past year, Liquid X has been using their inks to develop smart textiles for the automotive, aviation, and medical industries. Because the the company’s metallic inks use silver, zinc, and copper metals that have inherent anti-microbial properties, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Liquid X to begin offering non-conductive textiles that would help limit the spread of the virus. The Liquid X particle inks conformally coat the textile to keep pathogens from growing on the fabric.

A scanning electronic microscope (SEM) captured this 250X magnification of a woven polyester fabric coated with Liquid X’s particle-free ink. The ink uniformly coats each thread, creating smooth, flexible textiles that offer conductive properties or inhibit the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms.

“Typically our inks functionalize a textile to create an electronic device that can bend and flex in ways that traditional electronic devices cannot,” explains Beth Vasy, vice president of operations at Liquid X. “We can also use derivatives of our ink formulations to create low-cost, even transparent, anti-microbial coatings for high-touch surfaces, medical gowns, hospital curtains, automotive upholstery, and more.”

OEKO-TEX-Certification

In June, Liquid X received the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certification for their silver ink. The world-renowned OEKO-TEX label lets consumers know that non-woven polyester textiles treated with the ink have been tested to be free of carcinogens and heavy metals and are safe for contact with skin. Liquid X earned the strictest, baby-safe rating.

“With the new OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certification, our inks can now enable wearable applications that require contact with skin and the ability to withstand sweat and/or saliva,” said Bill Babe, sales and marketing manager at Liquid X. For example, medical-device manufacturers can use the ink to design wearable electronics for health and wellness monitoring.

During the pandemic, “We initially started making masks and antimicrobial filter inserts for our employees, friends, and familes as a way to provide an increased level of protection,” says Vasy. The feedback about the breathability and comfort of the masks was overwhelmingly positive, so Liquid X decided to offer the masks to the public: “We want to provide a way for people to protect themselves when the other person isn’t wearing a mask.”

Liquid X CEO Greg Babe wears the ComforTeX face mask.

Adult-size masks costs $5.99 and come with one anti-microbial insert. A 10-pack of additional inserts can be purchased for $10.99. Visit: https://liquid-x-printed-metals-inc.myshopify.com

The antimicrobial insert should be removed before the mask is washed. A replacement insert should be used after every three washes of the mask. The mask can be washed up to 10 times.

About Liquid X

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Liquid X is an advanced material manufacturer that can take an application for functional metallic inks from prorotype to production. Liquid X partners with manufacturers within the electronics industry to develop and print functional components such as sensors, heating elements, and smart textiles. They use additive manufactuing techniques to take an application from concept to commercialization. Visit: http://www.liquid-x.com

SpeedPro’s Smart Signage Technology Connects Printed Graphics to Digital Content

Over the years, printer manufacturers have demonstrated various methods of connecting printed graphics with updatable content on a smartphone. The goal is to create “smart signage” that integrates printed materials into measurable, multi-channel communications programs.

Recently, SpeedPro introduced a smart-signage solution called InfoLnkx. It takes advantage of the fact millions of consumers now carry smartphones that can automatically read tags programmed for NFC (near-field communications). This means consumers don’t have to download an app or use a camera to scan a QR code to open the connection from the printed piece to the online content.

SpeedPro is a network of more than 170 studios in the U.S. and Canada that provides a variety of printed products, including large-format graphics. SpeedPro studios can use InfoLnkx to help buyers of graphics for stores, restaurants, stadiums, and events improve the customer experience.

For example, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Breckenridge-Wynkoop Restaurant Group is using InfoLnkx technology to eliminate the need for customers to touch menus. When restaurant visitors put their smartphones near a tabletop sign, they can read the menu on their phone screens. The restaurant can update to digital content to show daily specials or suggest alternatives to beers or other menu items that are temporarily unavailable.

The Denver-based Breckenridge Wynkoop Restaurant Group used InfoLnkx technology in Wynkoop Brewing and both locations of Cherry Cricket restaurant. (Photo: SpeedPro)

“Signage is playing a bigger and more critical role in our restaurants than it ever has before. It’s involved in almost every aspect of the new guest experience and is helping to guide our teams and guests on how to navigate this new normal,” says Alex Bunn, Director of Marketing for the Breckenridge-Wynkoop Group. “Touchless menus create safer dining out experiences for us all.”

How It Works

InfoLnkx uses programmable NFC tags applied to printed graphics. When sign viewers place their smartphones near a designated portion of the graphic, they will immediately see the on-screen messaging. The NFC tags can connect viewers to whatever type of digital messaging the client wants to provide, including audio or video files.

The graphics could be posted in a variety of locations, including posters in high-traffic entryway or on graphics applied to tables, stadium seats, or elevator doors.

“We knew this touchless technology would change the customer experience,”said SpeedPro CEO Larry Oberly. “We were developing it prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but expedited the launch of the technology in order to aid businesses that were re-opening and seeking innovative ways meet new public health requirements.”

A Versatile Solution

SpeedPro studio owners are working with their clients to explore other ways to use the technology, such as reducing long lines at stadium concession stands by enabling in-seat ordering or helping non-profit agencies connect people with disabilities to online communities.

Museum visitors concerned about touching an interactive digital kiosk that has been repeatedly touched by other people could scan InfoLnkx-enabled posters to get wayfinding or exhibit information delivered to their smartphones.

Focused Innovation

While print-service providers routinely research innovative materials and applications, most smaller print shops don’t have the time or staff to thoroughly evaluate the pros and cons of implementing different options for smart-signage technology.

SpeedPro’s corporate group worked with the EdgeDweller business-growth consultancy to develop and build a system that all SpeedPro studios could use.

Lauren Ziegler, who owns SpeedPro Innovations in Reading, Pennsylvania, helped source NFC chips that would work with typical large-format graphics applications. She says InfoLnkx technology is easy to implement once you learn how to interact with the tags.

For More Information

Click this link to visit a landing page about InfoLnkx: SpeedPro Website: Smart Signage

This link takes you to an article on the Wide-Format Impressions website: SpeedPro Smart Signage Technology Helps Restaurants Improve Customer Safety and Experience

See how the technology works by watching this YouTube video: SpeedPro Smart Signage | Near Field Communication (NFC) | InfoLnkx

Interactive Print Technologies Link Printed Pages to Online Content

International Print Day is an ideal time to discuss three interactive print projects that demonstrate how printed pages can be linked to rich, online media.

At the Print 17 show in September, I picked up two books and a magazine that use three different link technologies and apps to showing how printed pages can be connected to video, motion graphics, discussion forums, PDF updates, and additional resources.

Business Book: The Third Wave

The Third Wave by Joseph Webb and Richard Romano Book CoverThe book “The Third Wave” by Joseph W. Webb and Richard M. Romano uses HP Link technology. Readers who download the HP LinkReader can scan hyperlinked text and images to get more information, watch a video, or listen to a song.

In addition to engaging book readers, HP Link Technology can be used on packages and other printed products for authentication or tracking shipments and inventory.

In the book, which was written for owners of printing businesses, the authors discuss how smarter mobile phones, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things will affect printing businesses.

The pages of the book were  printed on an HP PageWide WebPress T240HD and the cover was output on an HP Indigo digital press. The book was published by King Printing Co., a Lowell, Massachusetts-based company that provides short-run book-printing services for more than 10,000 authors and publishers.

Textbook: Introduction to Graphic Communication

Introduction to Graphic Communication” by Harvey Levenson and John Parsons is a prototype edition of an updated textbook that is being developed for students of graphic communications. It uses Ricoh’s Clickable Paper technology with the CP Clicker app to demonstrate how print and digital content can work together. Readers can access video demonstrations, animations, photo galleries, audio content, live chat, and other multimedia content.

Ricoh’s Clickable Paper technology doesn’t require printing unsightly QR codes or other marks on the page. Instead, the Clicker app detects hotspots on the page that can connect to several links. In addition to enlivening books and educational materials, Clickable Paper can be used in marketing materials. It can connect readers to additional product information, product reviews, or e-commerce portals.

Magazine: Out of Chaos 

“Out of Chaos”Out of Chaos magazine cover is a digitally printed version of the online magazine published by the color-management experts at Rods and Cones. The Spring 2017 issue of the magazine was printed, bound, and trimmed on the Canon imagePRESS C10000VP digital press. The printed articles are enhanced with Stampatech “Print Infinity” technology.

Stampatech augmented-reality technology recognizes photographs and logos on printed books, labels, marketing literature, or packaging and triggers interactive content. Users of the app can learn more about the product, give feedback, or even make purchases.

An article in “Out of Chaos” magazine features excerpts from the white paper “Has Augmented Reality Really Gone Mainstream?” by Cindy Walas and Kevin Keane.

Print Re-Imagined

As it becomes easier for readers to use smartphone apps to access digital content from printed pages, designers, authors, and other content creators will have to think differently about they plan their books, magazines, packages, and marketing materials.

Authors of non-fiction books will no longer have to worry so much that content in the book will become quickly outdated. And they can link to video demonstrations of complex processes that can be difficult to explain in a few paragraphs. Fiction writers could use rich media to help readers visualize key characters or settings or interact with the author.

The new linking technologies combine the interactivity of e-books with the simple pleasure of “off-screen” reading. It’s up to the reader to decide whether they want to access information solely through the printed page or if they want to use the printed pages as gateways to informative videos or more current, in-depth content.

Interactive Book Printed on Clickable Paper Will Debut at PRINT 17

At the PRINT 17 show in Chicago September 10-14, Dr. Harvey Levenson and John Parsons will introduce a new approach to book publishing. They will unveil a prototype of the next edition of Levenson’s highly regarded textbook, “Introduction to Graphic Graphic Communication.” The prototype book will use Ricoh’s Clickable Paper Technology to trigger related digital content and interaction with the reader.

“We’re not publishing an e-book,” said Parsons. “This is about a new way to demonstrate the inherent strengths of print.” The book is designed to demonstrate how printed pages can guide and enhance the use of digital media.

 

Watch a video about this new project on Jim Parsons’ Kickstarter page: www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeparsons/a-very-different-kind-of-book

As readers view the book’s printed pages, they can use the free Clicker app on their tablet or smartphone to access explanatory video, PDF worksheets, or other media. Readers will also be able to interact with fellow readers through live chat or social media discussions.

Levenson says it will be “a book that ‘talks’ to the reader and performs demonstrations. It will represent a unique learning experience for students studying graphic communications and for industry folks wanting to learn more about their field.”  He expects the book to be a model for the entire publishing industry.”

Clickable Paper

“This is a pioneering undertaking,” adds Levenson. “It will be the first book ever produced using Clickable Paper technology.”

Unlike QR (quick-response) codes that connect viewers to a single website, Clickable Paper provides one-touch access to multiple links—product information, reviews, downloadable extras and more. Rich media links can connect to photos, video, social networks, e-commerce portals and more.

Each page can be considered a gateway to online experiences such as live chat, audio content, photo galleries, online quizzes, and email to private discussion lists or tech support.

For now, Parsons is calling the project a “multi-book.” But he is open to ideas for a better name for this hybrid of print and digital publishing. He says the book will prove that “the permanence of print and vitality of digital media can co-exist.”

The prototype book will be demonstrated in the Ricoh booth (#2022) at PRINT 17. The final book will be published in 2018 by Intu Ideas in partnership with Ricoh.

The book will be published in small batches in full color using a Ricoh inkjet press. The online content that can be accessed through the pages will continue to be updated and augmented.

To support the further development of the digital experience of the final book, Levenson and Parsons have launched a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign ends August 18.

About the Authors

Dr. Harvey R. Levenson is Professor Emeritus and former Department Head of Graphic Communications at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. His first version of “Introduction to Graphic Communication,” was published in 2007. It gave students an overview of graphic arts, printing, design, publishing, and related fields, such as the development of the Internet, World Wide Web, and telecommunications. Other readers of the book included designers, ad agencies, software developers, and equipment manufacturers who needed of better understand of methods of mass-producing text and images.

John Parsons is Principal of Intu Ideas, a company that offers nonfiction book publishing advice and business writing services (research reports, white papers, case studies, articles) to software companies, publishers, nonprofit associations, and others. Parsons previously served as editorial director of The Seybold Report, an independent source of information about technologies used for printing and publishing.

For more information about the updated version of “Introduction to Graphic Communication,” read John Parsons’ post “Print Books Versus eBooks: “We’re Asking the Wrong Questions.”

Ad Beacon Helps Advertisers Measure Effectiveness of Printed Displays

AdMobilize is a venture-backed technology company headquartered in Miami, with offices in Washington, London, and Bogota. The company's mission is to provide advanced analytics solutions and integrated platforms for the physical world. (PRNewsFoto/AdMobilize, LLC)
AdMobilize is a venture-backed technology company headquartered in Miami, with offices in Washington, London, and Bogota. The company’s mission is to provide advanced analytics solutions and integrated platforms for the physical world. (PRNewsFoto/AdMobilize, LLC)

Although brands spend $7 billion a year on street-level advertising such as bus shelters and digital signage, it remains a challenge for marketers and agencies to accurately track how effective those campaigns are.

“The out-of-home advertising industry is struggling to find ways to have better analytics as to who and when consumers are most likely to see their ads,” said out-of-home advertising expert Nick Coston.

Tracking solutions that do exist are extremely difficult to install and configure, requiring huge amounts of time, money, and personnel.

With the AdBeacon® device from AdMobilize, out-of-home advertisers and retailers can gather viewership data from both printed graphics and digital signs. The all-in-one hardware and software solution can be configured in two minutes and used by anyone, even people without technical skills.

AdMobilizeSScrop

About the size of an iPhone 5, AdBeacon uses a camera sensor to collect viewership data about printed graphics in physical spaces. For digital signage that already has built-in camera sensors, AdMobilize offers a seamless API solution.

Advertisers can use AdBeacon to track dwell time, gaze ratio, demographics, emotions and more. Using the browser-based AdDashboard, they can access real-time performance data by location, time, audience, engagement, demographics and other key factors.

AdBeaconMarketers can use this data to adjust campaign strategy to maximize outdoor, out of home, and retail advertising returns, optimize store layouts, and fine-tune the content on digital signs.

“Real-time data and analytics drive online advertising and marketing for a reason – they generate incredible ROI,” said Rodolfo Saccoman, CEO and founder of AdMobilize. With AdBeacon 2.0, AdMobilize gives outdoor advertisers and brick-and-mortar businesses the same level of analytics that e-commerce companies use.

The AdRemote apps for Android or iPhone devices can be used to remotely configure and adjust the AdBeacons.

The AdRemote app can also display key metrics that quantify advertising effectiveness. With just one tap, these results can be shared with agency clients or campaign partners.