QR Code Killer? Touchcode Opens Content by Tapping Paper to Screen

Dubbed Touchcode, the new technology works by embedding a thin layer of capacitive material in printed items like business cards, tickets, magazine pages, or product packaging. When you hold the paper to a capacitive touchscreen, it acts like a set of invisible fingers tapping out a complex code that’s interpreted by a Touchcode-enabled app or website.

To read the codes on a device, users will need to launch an app or site that’s capable of reading Touchcode. Rather than creating a universal Touchcode app, Printechnologics has an SDK that companies can use to build the functionality into their own apps.

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Source: Laptop Magazine

  • Merric Mercer

    This technology actually has significant restrictions which means that it is unlikely to compete with 2D Codes (QR Codes and similar) for most applications. Here’s why:-

    This type of technology works by printing a circuit on the pack/card or substrate using conductive ink. To work, the consumer also has to make contact with the circuit in order to mimic the ‘human capacitance’ that is necessary to trigger a touch screen’. This has several negative implications:-

    1. The print area needs to be quite large – there needs to be enough space for both the mobile touch screen and the consumer to touch the substrate. QR codes can work on small products and also on cylindrical products.

    2. For the printed circuit to work the consumer must touch the circuit, so the consumer will need to know where to touch the packaging/card/substrate. For items such as a playing card and business cards this may be fairly intuitive. However, on a packaged product the consumer would need to be told where to place their touch screen and where to handle the pack. This explanation, if printed on the pack, would take up more space than a QR code and negate much of the value of ‘invisibility’.

    3. While TouchCode reduces the cost of printed circuits and is a lower cost than NFC it’s still very expensive compared to QR codes. This make it uneconomic for the high volume production seen in many consumer packaged goods.

    4. The ‘invisibility’ of the ink may provide Touch code with opportunities in the security and anti-counterfeiting market – but only as part of a more total solution as on its own this technology cannot handle ‘variable’ printing as well as other solutions.

    Furthermore, I’d question whether the consumer journey will really be better?

    1) With a QR code there is constant visual feedback while scanning. With Touchcode you have to hold the screen against the substrate, so you are scanning ‘blind’. The only feedback is audio or a vibration of the phone.

    2) Is it really quicker and is the difference material? Both require the consumer to open an app. Mobile phone cameras and QR scanning algorithms are improving constantly. On a modern smartphone, with the right software, scanning of a QR code is now almost instantaneous.

    3) Every QR code that one encounters can be scanned in a consistent manner. Touch Code will require a consumer to know where to place their screen and where to touch the pack – and this is will be different for each application and for each type of packaging.

    Merric Mercer
    www. hiveonline.co.uk