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The role of augmented reality (AR) is set to deliver significant levels of transformation in the packaging retail sector in 2018 and beyond.

Greg Jones, director or AR at Google, recently stated, ‘We’re going to look back and think, how did we not have a digital layer on the physical world.’

The AR landscape was of course radically altered with the launch of Pokemon Go, and it is this level of engagement amongst a younger, digitally native audience that has accelerated its acceptance into mainstream technologies.

Packaging will be one of a number of industries that will benefit from the significant investment we are now seeing in AR, as ‘Smart Packaging’ competes with ‘sustainability’ and ‘packaging structure’ for a share of the vast packaging budgets.

The Smart Packaging Market is expected to reach $39.7 billion by 2020, growing at almost 5% every year. (

So how can augmented reality be applied to packaging?

Packaging and AR have been aligned from the inception of early AR technologies. AR allows packaging to move from a static consumer experience to one that provides information, advice, games and entertainment. Through the use of the vast amounts of product and nutritional information available on pack, information can be scanned and both gamified as well as utilised for practical purposes around how a product should be cooked, stored, ordered and tracked. Augmented reality along with smart devices can even display products on shelf when they are still sealed in the box. AR technologies can also project vital environmental elements to manage stock levels and reduce packaging waste – a requirement that will be high on every CEO’s agenda for the next 5 years.

The ability to personalise packaging through AR is also a significant step forward and will bring packaging in line with the personalisation and accessibility readily available around all digital communications.

The possible uses for AR and packaging seem endless right now, with new initiatives and applications being developed daily. Amnet, as pioneers in Packaging Pre-Media, continue to research and stay at the forefront of the changes and evolution in packaging.

Shelley Harrison

Author Shelley Harrison

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