Digital Original: Touchcode & NFC are New Technologies to Watch

The ways people communicate continues to change as we enter a new year. The latest announcement is that smartphones will start reading new invisible electronic code printed on paper when you touch the printed material to a screen.

According to reports, Touchcode allows smartphone users to unlock content in apps or Web pages by touching the screen to printed materials that have been embedded with a thin layer of capacitive material. When a user holds the paper to a capacitive touchscreen, it sends a complex code that’s interpreted by a Touchcode-enabled app or website. It also works with tablets and other multi-touch devices.

Touchcodes can be used for launching Web pages, enabling coupon codes, event ticketing, or even mobile payments. It eliminates the need for an ugly QR code or barcode and doesn’t require access to your device’s camera.

Printing companies can license the technology from Printechnologics and add the inexpensive Touchcode layer to their production processes. The cost is projected to add less than a penny to the individual printed piece. Check out how it works at www.touchcode.de.

It will take a while for Touchcode to become widespread. Until then, the use of QR codes continues to grow. Scanlife, a mobile barcode solution provider, reports that QR code scans by consumers were up 157 percent in Q1 2012 over Q1 2011, and other reports show that use is increasing among retailers, manufacturers, and others. The wider adoption of smartphones is spurring this growth. For printers, QR codes provide an easy way to link the printed message to the online message.

 

Let NFC Moo-ve You

Other technology is making its way onto the printed piece. Computer chips are getting small enough to slip into printed materials such as business cards. Moo.com released its first Near Field Communication (NFC) business card recently as part of a public beta trial. The chip is programmed to link to a landing page featuring the user’s contact information.

Moo has embedded an NFC chip in the sandwich layer of its multi-layer Luxe business cards, which it produces and sells. It also manufactures the multi-layer NFC cards in-house.

Moo, which is planning a full roll-out of the NFC-enabled cards in 2013, is using the open beta to gather information about how customers use the technology ahead of the full launch. Because the chips are rewriteable, anyone with an NFC-enabled smartphone will be able to write and rewrite the URL on the chip to link to whatever digital property they choose.

To show how the cards could be used, Moo gave the examples of a real estate agent highlighting different daily listings, a local retailer linking to seasonal sales and promotions, and a jewelry designer at a craft fair linking to a product catalog.

One potential setback is the relative lack of NFC-enabled smartphones currently on the market. This is expected to change in the coming years with several companies announcing the introduction of NFC smartphones.

As smartphones become more of an integration tool between print and the Internet, printers are finding the devices do more than make calls. A new app named Print Watchdog (www.print watchdog.com) allows print shop owners to track all of their printing jobs online and see status of the jobs immediately. The cost is $9.95 a month. Check it out at your phone’s app store.

 

Software Improvements

Software advances continue in the prepress department. Markzware (www.MyPRINTResource.com/10006559) has released Q2ID for CS6 (InDesign plugin to convert QuarkXPress to InDesign CS6) for the Windows platform. The program eliminates the need to recreate the contents of a QuarkXPress file within Adobe InDesign, and the latest version has been seamlessly integrated with the latest release of Adobe InDesign CS6.

Managing all the new prepress software from Adobe can be difficult. If you are like most printers, you have several versions of the software and that can cause installation problems. Adobe has a free tool named the Adobe Creative Suite Cleaner Tool that helps resolve installation problems for Adobe Creative Suite 6, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Adobe Creative Suite versions 5.5 to 6.

The tool can clean up install records for any pre-release (beta) installations of these Creative Suite products. The Cleaner Tool is designed to not interfere with existing installations of previous versions of Adobe Creative Suite products. It does, however, allow you to remove them if you so choose. For more information, visit adobe.com and download the CS Cleaner Tool.

 

John Giles is a consultant and technology director for CPrint International. He is the author of “12 Secrets for Digital Success” and “The DTP PriceList”. He can be reached at 954-224-1942 or john@cprint.org. You can also find John on Twitter at @JohnG247 and LinkedIn. Read his blog at www.MyPRINTResource.com/blogs/john-giles. Order John’s books from Crouser & Associates (www.MyPRINTResource.com/10004688).

 

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