Virtual reality (VR) is fast becoming a global trend that now offers exciting opportunities and transformative benefits for the packaging industry. At IPL, we’ve been exploring the real-world possibilities of VR when it comes to packaging design and prototyping, all as part of leveraging improved sustainability and cost benefits for our clients.
This three-dimensional digital representation, sometimes referred to as an augmented world, is no longer the exclusive domain of video games and futuristic movies. VR is being applied to a range of industries. In the packaging sector, it is being used as a powerful tool for visualising designs and prototypes. VR is enabling brands to ‘see’ their packaging and interact with it as if it was a three-dimensional object. These sorts of technological innovations will drive the industry in the post-COVID-19 era.
What is VR and how will it impact packaging?
In simple terms, VR is a digital way to project objects and spaces in three-dimensions via goggles worn over the head. As the viewer looks around, the digital world in front of them moves in a realistic manner. Therefore, VR has the ability to create interactive virtual experiences for viewers wearing the goggles.
Users can be placed inside simulated worlds that provide a far greater sense of immersion and engagement than can be typically experienced through flat screens. Users can also walk around and interact with objects in this virtual environment. Recent advancements in VR technology have made it more accessible, affordable and higher in quality than before. These are sentiments shared with IPL Packaging’s head of design, LB Odendaal.
“Thanks to a proliferation of high-resolution and inexpensive screens developed for smartphones and tablets, along with vast improvements in computer graphics cards, VR is becoming increasingly more advanced and accessible,” says Odendaal. He explains that VR offers customers a unique way to interact with digital content and can redefine and enliven the packaging design process.
VR and the future of business
The world has changed in the wake of COVID-19. With less travel and more virtual business interactions, all companies have had to shift their way of doing business. VR is now an even more powerful tool as it allows companies to show their clients designs and products in an augmented three-dimensional space. This is achieved before any money is spent on actually creating physical prototypes.
“Leveraging virtual and augmented reality for proofing and visualisation of packaging offers some of the same benefits of a physical prototype, but in a more immediate digital format,” explains Odendaal. “When clients are able to see a concept in 3D, instead of an abstract dieline, the product and accompanying package become a ‘vision of the future’ instead of a 2D spatial intelligence test,” he adds.
IPL is currently exploring the possibilities of VR and its uses in the industry. Odendaal explains how the company has created a virtual showroom that allows customers to interact with packaging concepts and, through VR, bring packaging designs to life. “The interactive environment we created allowed them to visualise the packaging solutions at proper scale and, ultimately, in whatever intended environment they chose,” says Odendaal.
More value for less investment
When it comes to packaging, VR offers customers more value for their money, without having to invest in prototyping and sampling. Design teams are able to go beyond the mock-up stage of the process and create an accurate representation of how the packaging will look in a certain environment. This includes various lighting situations and in-store display cases.
“And, when you place a product in a VR environment, you can also see whether, for example, the chosen colours make the package ‘pop’ on the shelf or merely blend into the surrounding competition. Clients can then also easily request changes – like colour and shape – without running up additional material costs,” explains Odendaal.
This way, VR is able to simplify the packaging value chain and save the customer time and money. It allows designers and clients to pick out possible problems early on in the process. VR also facilitates better feedback from the customer and can lead to more effective design changes before they become costly to incorporate.
VR is good for sustainability
As if VR wasn’t beneficial enough, it also holds significant potential in terms of environmental sustainability. “With VR you’re saving on printing, materials, labour and transport – and ultimately reducing your carbon footprint,” says Odendaal. It allows companies like IPL to create products and refine their designs without having to use real materials, such as board, wood and glass.
“At IPL, we see the future of packaging design moving away from 2D screens and tablets and ultimately becoming fully immersive. With the help of virtual environments and a host of immersive three-dimensional concepts we’re currently testing, we hope to soon be standing around a virtual table with our teammates in offices around the world, drawing and engineering in 3D and making decisions on production and tooling as changes are made to 3D models in real-time,” he explains.
IPL is excited to be stepping into the world of VR at an early stage. It will certainly allow us to improve our agility, efficiency and turnaround times. “It is true, we are still at relatively early stages but it’s an exciting and important time to be engaging and developing the virtual world,” concludes Odendaal. This technology is certainly beneficial in the packaging industry and is likely to become the new norm in the future.
IPL Packaging is a global luxury packaging supplier with offices in the USA, Europe and Africa. We have manufacturing operations in Asia and we are able to create bespoke, tailored and exclusive packaging solutions for any premium brand or product. We handle the entire process, from conceptualisation and design to production and delivery.
We work with a variety of materials and can offer customers numerous packaging solutions that suit their needs. We have several peripheral services that ensure a world-class result and timeous delivery of your finished packaging. IPL Packaging also holds numerous certifications as proof of our commitment to sustainability and quality.
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