Interaction, Virtual Reality, and Automation Trend at PACK EXPO

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 2, 2017 2:17:15 PM

International PACK EXPO descended upon Las Vegas last week, where attendee interaction, virtual reality, and automation trended on the show floor. It's hard to think about my time in Las Vegas without thinking of the atrocities commited. My thoughts and prayers are with Las Vegas.

The Drone Demo

The Drone Demo, an interactive exhibit produced by PMMI and Workhorse, invited show attendees to catch a glimpse into the future of packaging drone delivery. Creating a mock residential street set in picturesque suburbia, the exhibit showcased small winged contraptions humming as they carried shipping boxes from the stationed electric car (Workhorse) to your front door. PMMI COO Jim Pittas explains, “When it comes to automated packaging delivery, whether it be a drone or driverless vehicles, many in the packaging industry, as well as consumers, are not exactly sure what this technology looks like or how it will apply to their everyday operations. Our interactive display offers a real visualization of the final process” (Show Daily).

Stephanie Neil, Senior Editor at Automation World, video captured the demo, tweeting:

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Stephanie Neil (@neilst)

9/26/17, 1:58 PM

#Drones delivering packages @packexposhow @Workhorse_Group #PACKEXPO

The demo was timely, considering Amazon’s published vision for drone centers shaped like giant beehives in the middle of U.S. cities.

Virtual Reality

There were several exhibitors offering show attendees a virtual reality experience at PACK EXPO. I stopped by Cavanna Packaging USA for my first go at virtual reality.


Here I was fashioned with a headset and a pointer, afterwhich, PACK EXPO melted away to be replaced by an automated granola bar packaging factory. I was able to move about the virtual factory by way of the pointer, looking under, over, and inside the automated wrapping machinery. It was really cool, and disorienting! Here I am looking like a doofus!

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Sonoco Institute CUShop

Paper or plastic? I stopped by the Sonoco Institute (Clemson University) CUShop to do some shopping at PACK EXPO. Show attendees were invited to participate in the eyetracking research by choosing between common retail products, like toaster ovens, tupperware, and coffee makers, in a mock retail environment. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this ongoing eyetracking research, I invite you to download this study, where participants were asked to choose between products packaged in paperboard cartons and plastic clamshells. Learn more about this specific Klockner Pentaplast study here. The intent of the Sonoco Institute research is to understand how package design dicates product sales.

Upon arriving at the booth I was given eyetracking glasses and a clipboard on which to jot down my product selections.

clipboard.jpgMy glasses were then synced up with a software program that follows my gaze to see what I fixate on, and for how long.

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Then, it was shopping time! Which one will it be?! I just don't know!

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Here you can see on the tablet the eyetracking software in action!


Here is an example of some of the different candle packaging participants got to choose between:

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After shopping, I was debriefed by a Clemson University Packaging student, who asked a series of questions about my shopping choices; these attempted to get to the "why" behind my choices. My takeaway from this experience was that I often times didn't have a cognitive, "why!" I simply chose impulsively based on a myriad of visual cues that were internalized in nanoseconds. I'll bet consumer market researchers will have a field day with the research and I look forward to the published findings!

See you next year in Chicago, PACK EXPO!