Wireless electricity enables next generation of annoying packaging

Yep, these cereal boxes light up. They’re using a new branded-technology called eCoupling that provides electricity via induction, which means the shelves have a coil with AC power running through it. The “printed coils” on the boxes allow inventory control and data exchange presumably thanks to a low-power microcontroller. But in the video after the break you can see that the printed lighting on the boxes lets them flash parts of the box art as a way to attract customers’ attention. We’d bet that they’re using electroluminescent materials but we weren’t able to get find specifics on how this is done. We just hope advertisers don’t start rolling noise-makers into their packaging.

[Crave via Laughing Squid]

Comments

  1. IceBrain says:

    Combined with paper transistors[1] (invented by a team at my Uni), I fear for our trips to the supermarket a few years from now.

    [1]: http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/paper-transistor

  2. gman says:

    This type of frivilous use of technology bugs me. Why are we wasting energy and materials on making boxes go all flashy an drw your eyes than having it power an rfid tag whic supplies the nutritional informations, price, epiry date, and other important info.

  3. Col.Pan!c says:

    Oh look, parts!

  4. slipp says:

    it takes a lot of marketing to sell trash…

  5. spag says:

    Frivolous or not, does this mean I get cool little bits of EL paper, a coil, and some circuit board for free when I buy cereal 5 years from now?

  6. gilbert wham says:

    God help stoners once the talking cereal box is unleashed on the world…

  7. mowcius says:

    Nooooooooooooo

    I have been dreading this day. Soon they’ll sing to you too (Minority Report anyone?)

  8. ErnieM says:

    Mmmmmm… Honey Nut Cheerios.

    Silly hackers, Trix are for KIDS!

  9. RJSC says:

    Ah! What a great way to increase product cost though increasing packaging cost!
    Not to mention the environmental issues! Increasing waste exponentially! Energy to light it up, electronics going to the trash/landfills when consumers dum the packages!
    Wonderful! Just what we were in need!

    We should be on a era of minimizing the huge waste that packaging represents to the bare minimum to assure product quality on delivery.

    I’ll give you an example:
    At my local computer store, a small Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse for notebooks on a fancy retail package featuring hard fused thick molded plastic manuals, fancy printings, etc costed 43€, yet, I bought the same mouse in the OEM package (nothing but a plain plastic bag with the mouse and 2 AAA batteries for 24,90€.

    Packaging costs heavily on the environment AND you wallet!

  10. concino says:

    Yeah, lets create more electronic waste as we are lacking that already.

    The packaging is NOT FREE, they make you pay for it, it is in the product pricing.

  11. Benjamin says:

    Well there goes recycling your cereal boxes…

  12. andar_b says:

    Unfortunately, anything that provides more revenue through more sales than the cost it requires to implement it will be used in marketing, regardless of the cost to the environment.

    If everyone boycotts the animated boxes because of the additional waste, then they will fail to increase sales and fade away.

    On the geek side, I can imagine dozens of boxes in a SAN (shelf area network) coordinating an animated display or even being used as a game interface (a la office windows)

  13. andar_b says:

    What about one brand using their wireless cereal boxes to hack the other brands of boxes? :p

    • skarrd says:

      i can see hours of fun happening at stores when this becomes wide spread.

      one second it’s singing a melody to you, the next it’s audio from a porno.

      LET THE HACKING COMMENCE!

  14. phishinphree says:

    All in the name of selling more shit at the expense of the consumer and environment. dicks.

  15. Juan Cubillo says:

    @gilbert wham,

    Comment of the day!

  16. Luiz says:

    Disgusting…

    Plastic bag, laminated paper box, carton box, another bigger carton box, energy for transport and fabrication. Now add up wireless electric luminescent material, energy and a special shelve.

    I buy the same crap inside a plastic bag with just a tag on it for half the price.

  17. Renee says:

    If these ever come to be I’ll have to make an induction charging device for my phone so I can charge it while I shop.

  18. oba says:

    umm it says it uses the boxes to calculate remaining inventory?

    !)Buy cereal
    2) hack box
    3) replace hacked box on shelf
    4) screw up inventory DB?
    5) hilarity will ensue

  19. Luke says:

    People with pacemakers beware… don’t go down the cereal aisle!

  20. NatureTM says:

    If one company does this and it turns out to be profitable, the rest will follow. If everybody does it, there won’t be any competitive advantage in doing it, however, if one company stops doing it, it will be detrimental to that company. End result: we all pay more for cereal.

    All these business execs are supposedly game theory experts, but it never seems to protect them from making bad decisions.

  21. Whatnot says:

    @RJSC Retail also has warranty..

    @luke if they were that sensitive then all the celltowers would have fried them already, not to mention all the microwave ovens and RADAR etcetera etcetera.

  22. Zorastimal says:

    This is going to drive already expensive cereal prices up. Then malt-o-meal will raise their prices to just a few cents cheaper… You know, I guess I’m more pissed off at malt-o-meal, really. They could be way more cheaper, but they know if you’re trying to save money, you’ll pay N-0.01 just as soon as you’ll pay N-1

  23. Kaonashi says:

    Imagine all the disappointed kids out there when the fancy flashing/singing cereal box no longer flashes or sings when they get it home. It’s like a toy that breaks as soon as you buy it.

  24. 5318008 says:

    THIS IS A GOD-AWFUL IDEA.

  25. Winston says:

    Thank-you, Retailers. please put more stuff like this on the shelves so that hackers/tinkerers have more things to play with. This will be great for rechargeable devices and projects. And I hope the electroluminescent parts are easy to remove from the packaging. For those of us who like to play but can’t afford to buy or find these things will be happy. Now if they will just sell the items in the back-woods part of the grand ol’ US of A….

  26. truthspew says:

    Yeah but just think of the hack potential!

  27. arkique says:

    I can’t wait for this to reach our landfill sites.
    Those mofos are gonna glow in the dark :D

    yay

  28. Eric says:

    The cereal isle is going to look like a late 90’s web page. It won’t be long before we see a full isle of boxes all proudly displaying the BSOD.

  29. octel says:

    marketing firms fuck around with useless technogadgets. meanwhile, in other parts of the world millions are starving and dying for lack of basic food and nutrients

  30. PocketBrain says:

    Yep, gonna get a couple just for their coils so I can make the charging mousemat, etc.

  31. Anonymous says:

    The Honey Nut Cheerios box reminds me of the animated neon signs of yesteryear. However I don’t want the bread aisle to turn into Rio…

    If anything this could be interesting to tinker with, especially since it’s “free” if you were going to buy the cereal anyway.

  32. Brian Neeley says:

    I have often heard that the packaging is the most expensive part of any inexpensive product. I remember buying $.10 parts at Radio Shack for $1.99 because it was on a piece of cardboard and bubbled with plastic. And that is SIMPLE packaging (one color plus black lettering). More colors cost more.

    @Oren, that is F U N N Y

  33. cknopp says:

    Could this be done with low resolution OLED printing?

    That would make them organic, and decomposing. They could probably make them cheaper than soy ink!

  34. Cheesemeup says:

    Soon all electric devices will have RFID repeaters in them, with anything connected to the internet as a gateway,

  35. Cheesemeup says:

    Think of the hack’s and the laughs that will insure in the future

  36. I saw these in the wild at Safeway in San Francisco a couple weeks ago… Not just a prototype, apparently.

  37. OK, I totally get the concerns about environmental and monetary cost. This is Hackaday though right? Did only a few of you read into this that you might one day be able to get electroluminescent cardboard free with your serial? Cut it out and do whatever you want with it…

  38. medwardl says:

    I wanna tear one apart to see what I can use out of it.

  39. Shadyman says:

    @Whatnot: Folks with pacemakers still have to stay well away from microwaves.

    RADAR is typically aimed either up, or down at an airfield. Those are easy enough to stay away from.

  40. jeicrash says:

    Now come the days when one brand of cereal will not be compatible with your homes inventory system, and a box of crackers steals your bank account info. Come on really? couldn’t this technology be used for something better? I know how about the same lighting technology be used in safety vests or something that doesn’t hint at the idea of people sinking thousands into their kitchens so they know when creamer will expire. Science seams to always advance in the direction of pointless and less into innovation.

  41. Oneironaut says:

    I am now working on a backpack lithium battery inductive charger and will leech thousands of amp hours directly form the shelves to power my evil robots. Shop for an hour and then go home with 30 free amp hours.

    20 years ago I was hacking the serial port and soon I shall be hacking the cereal isle!

    Bring it.

  42. echodelta says:

    There needs to be a global ban on double packaging as well as this. Here in Indiana we now cannot throw electronics in the trash, yet there is no program to collect it. Standards need to be set. FIRST

  43. staven says:

    Someone should start spreading rumors about how electronic packaging emits deadly radiation, causes cancer, spreads computer viruses, allows the government to track you, kicks your dog etc. People in general don’t really care if something hurts the environment, but they might if it hurts them (or their wallets).

  44. strider_mt2k says:

    Welcome to the future, where Tesla’s dream powers cereal box advertising and MLK’s dream is realized in equal subjugation before the corporations.

    Someone slap me…I’m wallowing again.

  45. strider_mt2k says:
  46. MoJo says:

    This wont be used on cerial. Maybe high price Apple products or something.

    As for messing with inventory you already can. RFID tags dance permenently diasabled with a scanner.

  47. Gaige says:

    If the paper is the cheap to produce and mass produce, couldn’t ultimately use it to light rooms…..just imagine 4 walls lighting ur room….it’s be amazingly illuminated

  48. Necromant says:

    Hooray – scrap parts!
    Oh, cool. What uC are they using? AVR?

  49. Eaty says:

    Flash plugin for cereal boxes NeXT year…

  50. ragster00 says:

    I think before people fly of the handle about the cereal boxes and such, should see the last part of this video:

    I would guess the last part is the part that would have more of interest than glowing cereal boxes.

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