From the black marker to the smart pen

The stationery manufacturer Edding has expanded its fields of application and invested in the development of digital technologies. The company has developed a digitally readable but invisible code for packaging or documents.

An ink that does not smear, but instead connects paper and display. The Edding company, known for its thick marker pens, is expanding its fields of application – not least in view of the fact that ever more packages are being labelled instead of being marked with lettering. CEO Per Ledermann has invested above all in development of the company’s own digital technologies. Edding Tech, a subsidiary set up specifically for this purpose, has brought the „Edding code“ onto the market, which uses conductive ink to combine paper and display and offers new possibilities for ensuring the security and authenticity of packaging and documents.

The „Edding code“ is a new technology developed by the start-up company Prismade Labs in Chemnitz, 50 percent of which is now owned by the Edding Group. It uses conductive ink, which is printed on paper, packaging or labels as a digitally readable but optically invisible ID code. The conductive ink activates the touch screen of a smartphone like a fingertip does. „The system enables analog products to communicate with any conceivable web content via the smartphone or tablet using a printed conductive ink in a specific coding. This is made possible by our intelligent decoding software, which is based on a self-learning and therefore smart algorithm,“ explains Christiane Gieschen of the Group’s International Brand Management. The company offers a reader solution for security authorities or other institutional users.

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The „Edding Code“ is ideal for authentication, document security, interactive packaging, or for marketing and promotional activities. A smartphone can be used to read the code and verify the authenticity of a document or branded article. „With Edding Code, the authenticity of a document can be established by reading in a coded label, and it is also possible to prove that you are actually physically in possession of a document,“ says Gieschen. In this area, the first two products have been developed with partners and are due to go live in 2019. The code will be used in a pilot project by a car fleet company and its drivers in northern Germany. The car fleet company sticks small stickers on the drivers‘ driving licenses. This makes it easier for the company to comply with the obligation to check regularly whether all drivers still hold a valid driving license. This saves time and effort for the inspection. The Edding Code is currently also being used for provision of evidence between car dealers and their banks when it comes to proving possession of the vehicle registration document.

Another important field of application is interactive packaging, because the code can be used to activate any information that enables interaction between the manufacturer and the consumer. This is useful for marketing and promotional purposes.