We all know what the bar code is, many even scan items ourselves to price check at the super market or ring up our own items at the grocery store. Now you may be able to do so much more, including accessing a wealth of information directly from your mobile phone.
Esquire magazine will test this new functionality this March, by printing
Scanbuy codes in an editorial spread on “The Esquire Collection”, detailing the 30 items a man would need to get through life, each item printed with a small bar code that readers can scan and view a mobile menu including advice for the item and information on where the item can be purchased.
ScanLife, an application available free for the iPhone [iTunes link
], Blackberry, Androids and many other internet enabled phones, also can act as a bar code reader for ScanLife EZcodes anywhere, performing your own price comparisons on the go. Standard bar codes (QR-Codes) can also be read by an array of mobile applications
Similarly, SpyderLink has introduced a more basic technology that will work with any camera phone. Client logos surrounded by a ringed logo, called a SnapTag allow consumers to snap a photo of the image and send it. In reply the consumer receives information such as videos, event details, coupon codes or other pertinent information. SpyderLink is a patent pending technology already in use in magazines such as Entertainment Weekly and Everyday Food.
These shopping innovations may be the way to help print ads evolve into the interactive mobile phone, social networking generation and allow consumers with the much sought after control.
I don't know if you've heard of Lexmarks shrill attempts to kill the remanufactured ink market - but they include suing their own customers. It is with this in mind that I have written this bit of fiction.
Part II to follow...Enjoy!
The security guard found the footfall of the Expert reassuring. His soles pressed the linoleum as though the tiles were something to be owned: each step were as a grandfather clock striking the hour. Bong – the glass door has closed behind the Expert. Bong – he was at the reception, removing his sunglasses as he faced the guard.
“Thank goodness you’re here,” the guard said. “We wouldn’t have called, but it’s an emergency –“
“Not to worry,” the Expert said. He wiped the lenses of his sunglasses upon his lapel. He raised them to the sun and narrowed his eyes. Were they satisfactorily clean? Most certainly. He propped the sunglasses upon his nose. “What exactly is the problem?”
“Well –“ the guard hesitated and closed his mouth. He resembled a goldfish that finds itself on the wrong side of the tank, caught in the hungry embrace of the family cat.
For a moment it seemed that the will to live would fail him entirely, but then he breathed deeply. He pointed to the door marked ‘Security’ and said “It would be easier to show you.”
He and the Expert soon faced a blank monitor. The arms of the Expert were folded: the two limbs put a steel-reinforced concrete wall between him and whatever the guard would show him. He wore a grimace in anticipation.
And when the Expert nodded, a button’s press brought the screen to life. It showed a still image – security footage of the printer room. It was like any company’s printer room.
The guard ringed a printer in the corner of the screen with his finger.
“Watch this,” he said and, though he still wore the expression of an asphyxiated fish, he sounded like a child in the early hours, following a visit from Father Christmas.
Another press, and the video began. The hum of a VHS tape playing fell into the silence. At first the printer room was still, but then an obese man in overalls heaved through the door. He swaggered – not because he seemed self-assured but because his bulk compelled him.
The sound of struggle up three flights of stairs piped through the monitor’s speakers. The man pressed the door shut with what might once have been hips, turning his back so it faced the camera. The word ‘Janitor’ could be read on his overalls.
Then he faced the printer the guard had ringed.
“Here,” the guard said.
From the pocket of his overalls the janitor took an ink cartridge. He lifted the hood of the printer.
“What brand is that?” the Expert asked.
“Lexmark,” the guard said. “And we understand that he’s not holding an official cartridge.
“That can’t be good,” the Expert mused. He pressed his arms more tightly against his chest, adding another layer of concrete between himself and the events of screen. Then he was quiet.
The janitor had removed the exhausted cartridge, splattering his hands in the process. He wiped the ink against his overalls, and his groan became a hacking cough that ended in the excavation of phlegm from his throat. “Hrergh” he said warmly. The empty cartridge stood on the table: there could be no doubt it was a Lexmark product.
“Hrergh,” the janitor repeated, and the monitor’s speakers vibrated. His breathing had slowed but he continued to inhale with gusto – his audience couldn’t miss a thing. Satisfied that the transfer of ink from his fingertips to his clothes was complete, the janitor reached his hand into the Lexmark to insert the new cartridge. He fiddled until he heard the all-important click – the cartridge was installed.
As though the force of gravity had then increased a hundred fold, the printer’s hood came down. The janitor yanked his arm away, only to discover his hand was gone.
It was still in the Lexmark.
He stared at the printer. The plastic was a benign grey, and the touch screen electric blue. The machine’s hum brought to mind the song of a man with a clean conscience.
He fainted. The tape ended.
The Expert nodded. “I see why it’s best that you showed me,” he said.
“We’re thinking of putting it on YouTube,” the guard said. “Our marketing people think it might go viral.”
“Okay. So why am I here?”
“Isn’t it obvious? It’s these ridiculous ink cartridge controls Lexmark have in place. They charge so much for their official cartridges – and it doesn’t make sense to pay what they’re asking when there are great quality compatibles for a lower price.”
“I see, I see. So you want me to…?”
“Yes,” the guard said. He pressed a button and the monitor was dead again. For a moment the image of the felled janitor was an echo against the black; then it was gone. “You must challenge the Lexmark. Conquer the in-built cartridge controls so we don’t have to hire a new janitor every time we use a compatible. Can you do this?”
The Expert spoke with the assurance of a man safe from bombs inside his steel bunker.
“Yes,” he said. “Let’s do it.”
Wow, there were some terrific entries into the Clickinks Facebook
Holiday Photo Contest! Some amazing talent has been discovered, and memories shared. Jack Hollingsorth, photographer and twitter notable, chose the top two winners out of numerous entries. There were an additional two winners chosen that had the most Fans to comment on a photograph.
The winners are as follows:
1st place - Per judges: Shelby Jacobson of CA
2nd Place - Per judges: Russel Hale of NC
1st place - Most to comment: Michella Juvenz
2nd place - Most to comment: Kate Olsen of WI
All of the entries photographs are terrific, as you can see from the selection of winners. This has really been an exciting and eye opening contest to see how a Facebook Photo Contest could inspire such effort and beauty. Not only did fans inspire each other, they inspired many to take notice of how great surges in fans can grow.
Because of the great response, Clickinks has also aluded to another Contest to be announced soon!
Do you think of yourself as an ink
jetsetter? Do you consider learning how a printhead works the height of scientific inquiry? If so, the announcement of the 2010 InkJet Academy Conference (subtitled Theory of InkJet Technology) may be of interest. Featuring such Course Leaders as Mike Willis, the Managing Director of Pivotal Resources Ltd., the program is being held in the opening two days of February in Arizona. And for the low low price of $1095 per registrant, you could attend.
According to Imiconf.com, this one-time fee includes not just attendance at all sessions, but continental breakfasts, lunch, and coffee breaks for both days. Seemingly, the academy organizers are not advocates of dinner. The sessions, meanwhile, each last four hours and cover such topics as: ‘Advances in UV Curing Ink Technology’ and ‘Considerations for Page Arrays.’ Held at the Crown Plaza San Marcos Resort, attendants can at least be confident that the breakfasts will be good.
To register for the conference, and for the chance to see pictures of an Alpine lodge given the Andy Warhol treatment, visit the 2010 InkJet Academy website at: Imiconf.com.
Are you sick to death of the outrageous prices HP charge for their original black ink cartridges? You might avoid paying through the nose by purchasing from a remanufactured ink
vendor. Or, if you’re hopelessly attached to the contents of the wallet, you might print documents with your own blood.
This, according to a bar chart created by Clementine at ReflectionOf.Me, is almost half the price of HP black ink # 45. All you need is an emptied ink cartridge and a blood donor pack. That woozy sensation you’re feeling as you fill the cartridge? That, dear reader, is what saving feels like - glorious, glorious savings.
Looking for details before you undertake this (admittedly drastic) procedure? HP’s black ink retails for $0.70 per mL, as opposed to $0.40 per mL for human blood. Need some liquid courage before you start? That’s no problem, because according to the bar chart, vodka retails for almost nothing. And if the whole thing goes wrong and you find yourself in the hospital – that’s okay too, because penicillin is only $0.05 per mL.
So get printing – and who knows? Before long HP might unveil its new ‘Vampire’ series.
A new invention by Xerox
researchers will allow electronic circuits to be printed on fabrics and plastics, according to an October 2009 press release from the printing brand. The new conductive silver ink paves the way for e-readers that can be folded like newspapers, or circuits that can be integrated into clothing and worn. It may make redundant the silicon chip, on which electronics have been dependent.
The Xerox silver ink has a uniquely low melting point for a metal, essential for printing on plastics. While normal metals have a melting point of 1,000 degrees, plastic melts at 150 degrees. Yet Xerox’s silver ink
melts at 140 degrees, meaning the circuit can be printed, before the plastic is compromised. This opens the way for countless applications. Xerox’s press release for example raises the possibility of pill boxes that can measure their remaining contents, ideal for medication.
Speaking in the press release, Laboratory Manager at the Xerox Research Centre in Canada Paul Smith said: "We've found the silver bullet that could make things like electronic clothing and inexpensive games a reality today. This breakthrough means the industry now has the capability to print electronics on a wider range of materials and at a lower cost."
According to an October 2009 post by Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat.com, the silver ink has been in development at Xerox since 2001. The silver ink enables circuits to be printed like an everyday printer, using an ongoing feed. It doesn’t require the clean rooms necessary for making a silicon chip, and bypasses the cost of production. For the first time, circuits could be almost weightless, integrated into the fabric of a shirt.
Scientists have sought this development for some time: Hewlett Packard for example has been working on plastic electronics since the 1990s. Having created a silver ink viable for commercial use, Xerox intends to “aggressively seek interested manufacturers and developers by providing sample materials to allow them to test and evaluate potential applications.” Expect to see electronic billboard t-shirts before the end of the next decade.
The device from industrial designers Hoyoung Lee et al. is a good sign for the environment.
Until recently painting a road sign was a hazardous business. The workmen risked giving themselves a terrible posture, what with leaning down to spell words out onto the tarmac surface. Rarely had bending at the knees possessed such immense value.
At worst the work left them in a permanently bent position, unfit to do anything but paint roads!
But thanks to the invention of the solar-powered road printer, now workmen can put those fears behind them. Unveiled on December 18th at EcoFriend.org, the handy (since it doesn’t need hands) device is the work of industrial designers Hoyoung Lee, Doyoung Kim, and Hongju Kim.
The road printer harbors an onboard solar panel with which it powers itself, trundling along as it jet sprays the tarmac. Road signs are pre-programmed into the printer’s memory – right now it can print such classics as the U-Turn and Stop Sign.
The road printer doesn’t even require workmen to bend down to set it going: the buttons have been designed to withstand the steel-capped toe of a boot. Workmen need only replenish the paint reservoir, from which the paint cartridge
Of course, the device needs charging – but even then workmen need only leave it sunbathing by the roadside.
The EcoFriend.org article doesn’t state if the road printer is intended for commercial use, or is just conceptual. Yet the device may yet become the No. 1 Christmas gift for workmen looking to be spared a visit to the chiropractor’s office.
For pictures of the solar-powered road printer click: here
Professional bakeries, and home based cake decorators, a new fun way to decorate is now available. Novelty baked goods such as photograph cakes have been made at larger commercial bakeries and grocery stores, now you can decorate your own cake at home using edible ink. Cake decoration has long been a serious art. From birthday cakes to wedding cakes, cake artists will tell you that it is all about presentation. All you need is a good photo printer from Canon or Epson, like the Canon IP
or Canon Pixma
, compatible ink cartridges or a refill kit and edible icing sheets.
Many cake decorating supply stores carry edible ink and icing sheets. I even found it online at Kopykake
Once an image is printed on an icing sheet, you can simply place it on top of the frosted cake or other baked good. The icing sheet will seamlessly absorb into cake frosting.
The use of an inkjet printer allows any one that is proficient with a computer to display perfect logos, complete Photoshop designs, family photographs and more like a true culinary artist.
You may want to thoroughly clean your printer before inserting your cartridges filled with edible ink. This way you can have your cake and feel comfortable eating it too.
I found a beautiful example at Sweetmoments
Who knew a regular photo printer could do so much! Whether you are a professional culinary artist or a mom who loves to create top notch birthday cakes, you will want to experiment with edible inks and see where this new method of cake decoration takes you.
If you have a great cake recipe or have accomplished a beautiful design, please share with us in the comments below.
Print News: InfoTrends Offers Advice for Photo Printing Firms
A release by the market research firm InfoTrends offers encouraging advice for photo printing companies.
InfoTrends, the market research firm, has released its 2009 report detailing the photo printing habits of US consumers. An extensive quantitative study, retailing for almost $4000, the survey offers advice for photo printing firms looking to maximize their investments. According to the InfoTrends press release, it finds ‘bright spots’ in the photo printing market in spite of stiff competition from digital storage methods. In particular, ‘Households with children, family memory keepers, and hobbyists’ remain dedicated photo printers, while there are ‘many things’ vendors can do to encourage increased rates of photo printing among consumers.
In June 2005, a report by InfoTrends found that the photo printing market faced possible decline. In spite of an 81% growth in digital cameras sales that year, consumers were increasingly likely to neglect printing
their photos in favor of storing them digitally: either by hard disc, CD or DVD, or even on social media websites. Yet InfoTrends noted that an increase in photo printing revenues was possible, if vendors tried to increase the ease of printing while lowering the costs. The release found that, by 2010, revenues could either rocket to $7.6 billion or plummet, declining as low as $3.7 billion, depending on vendor strategies.
In February 2006, Hewlett Packard attempted to spur photo printing with the introduction of its self-service photo kiosk, housed in retailers across the US. The kiosk enabled consumers to not only design prints in under five minutes, but print each copy in 5 seconds. The Wal-Mart trial of the machines proved so successful that, by the end of 2006, it housed a total 50 photo-printers in its stores.
Yet in spite of this, vendors have largely failed to convince consumers of the worth of photo-printing over digital storage methods. In an article by Jennifer Nealson on December 1 2008 for DigitalCameraInfo.org, it was reported that the volume of images printed in the year 2007-8 grew by 1.7 billion to total 19.7 billion. This is good news – but at the same time a report by PMA Marketing Research entitled ‘Consumer Imaging in Canada’ for that 73% of young consumers share photos online. For consumers who used to print, this transition may be permanent.
InfoTrends believes that vendors have ‘only two or three years to gain back consumers’ who now store photos online. Equally though, the market research firm suggests that vendors may better invest their time in products that cannot be replaced online. The market for specialty printing – where images are placed on almost any item imaginable – grew 11% in sales from $9.9 billion in 2005 to $11.1 billion in 2006, according to Dimitrios Delis, Research Director at the Photo Marketing Association. It may be through these items that vendors assure their future.
For years the printer cable was a tether by which the computer user was kept in spitting distance of their Epson
printer. A slave were they to the length of that copper wire. But no longer. For, according to a December 14th, 2009 press release from Epson, owners of network capable Epson printers, including the Artisan 810
and Workforce 610
, will be able to print their images wirelessly. The means of this freedom? Nothing less than Epson’s very own iPrint
Application, for use with the iPhone.
The Epson App is available from the iTunes App store, seated alongside similar releases from rival brands. Earlier this year both Hewlett Packard
enabled their customers to cast away their printer cables, so long as they own iPhones. The Apple device comes equipped with a sixth sense, meaning that it’s capable of automatically identifying printers in your network. It does this with WiFi. Yet persons seeking this printing freedom ought beware: according to a December 14th 2009 post by Ragu Magapann at TheStandard.com, the quality of images produced on the iPhone is mediocre.