Back in 2003, Eon Visual Media became an independent limited company. DVDs outsold VHS tapes for the first time and technology was at a turning point. Not long after, in 2005, 1 billion people were using the internet which was 1/5 of the population at the time! This pivotal time period saw digital innovation rise, with businesses looking for new ways to advertise, train and market their products.
Since 1994, when QR codes were first invented, companies and individuals alike have been using them to engage customers. In 2003, Eon Visual Media were approached by a healthcare company who didn’t want to add the boring black and white QR codes to their packaging, which they had spent time and money designing and perfecting – they wanted to show off their branding! Eon Visual Media gathered to brainstorm, and SmartPicture was born!
What is SmartPicture?
What is SmartPicture?
Firstly, Eon Visual Media researched digital watermarking technology and discovered Digimarc, a global leader in product digitisation providing unique identities and cloud-based solutions that collaborate with applications and machines. Digimarc technology was very accurate technology, allowing us to hide QR codes within packaging. Digital Watermarking is a technology used to identify embedded information that cannot be easily noticed. After this, using Digimarc Software Development Kits, we developed an app for iOS and Android to read the hidden unique codes, disguised in packaging through the subtle changing of pixels.
In an age where smart phone cameras couldn’t scan QR codes or other digital watermarking, Eon Visual Media needed to create an app to allow customers to scan the digital watermark. Despite this development, it was found that the watermarking technology was too invisible and too embedded, meaning people simply didn’t know it was there – their USP became their unique flaw. We began adding calls to action and updating the packaging graphics to alert people to scan. This added costs for brands who wanted to use the technology with minimal impact on existing packaging artworks. Digital Watermarks still have their place in modern technology, despite some of their flaws; Digimarc Recycle is an initiative allowing brands to increase sustainability by digitising products and packaging with technology proven to achieve 99% detection. There are some good arguments for security applications for Digital Watermarking given how they are unique and able to be disguised.
We tested this technology on brands including Springfield Solutions, Eon Visual Media’s sister company and BrainWorks, a snack bar brand promoting brain function. The BrainWorks bars utilised Image Recognition technology instead of Digital Watermarking, meaning the image on the front of the packaging was recognised making it more accessible. After huge success, unfortunately the SmartPicture app became obsolete, with smart phones having the developed ability to scan QR codes. Despite this, QR codes have risen in popularity again during the pandemic, largely for use on tables in restaurants, RSVP invitations and as a method to replace older methods of information display such as in art galleries and museums.
Eon Visual Media won the Hull Daily Mail Innovation and Tech award for the SmartPicture technology, which was a very proud moment in our recent history! Get in touch with our team and let’s create some innovative solutions together!