Inductive Intelligence’s tech offers induction-heated-anywhere containers by marrying food and beverage packaging with wireless charging, software, RFID/NFC tags and sensors.
Packaging Digest reported earlier this month on a selection of developments from the IFT food technology trade show. That whet our appetite to find out more about one particularly complex and fascinating packaging-driven technology from Inductive Intelligence LLC. It was during the show that the company’s Greg Clark, co-founder & CEO, took center stage in a technology innovation challenge. In front of a large and attentive audience, Clark was grilled about the company and its patented, smart packaging-enabled heating technology by a panel of industry experts along with Shark Tank’s Daymond John. We felt more grilling was in order, and caught up with Clark in this exclusive interview.
The IFT “Food Innovation Challenge” experience was exciting and informative for the hundreds of us in the audience. How was it for you?
Clark: The entire IFT event was a great experience for us. It opened doors to food and packaging companies, provided great mentorship and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until Daymond John gives us a call! The event also helped us connect with people doing research in the area of heat transfer, which in time will be extremely helpful.
What is the company’s induction-heating proposition and why is it on-trend in today’s market?
Clark: Single-serve packaging continues to drive growth in center store, and since Apple adopted the Qi wireless charging standard, wireless device charging is booming as well. This is about sitting at the intersection of those two trends and delivering a consumer experience that’s more convenient, consistent, safe and sustainable.
What specific consumers need this kind of on-demand, heat anywhere convenience?
Clark: Convenience has been the number one consumer trend globally for the last decade. Consumers are seeking products that save them time and make even small tasks easier. Wireless phone charging is experiencing rapid growth for that reason. It’s not that difficult to plug your phone in, yet there were over 210 million wireless chargers sold last year alone, and 2.4 billion expected in the market by 2025.
We’re adding more function to that platform, and saving the consumer a trip to the kitchen to guess how long they should put things in the microwave.
At the same time we’re creating entirely new consumption occasions for consumers and brands. We’re also creating great experiences for the consumer in areas beyond food and beverage like home fragrance and heated cosmetic products.
How does it work? What types of packaging are applicable?
Clark: The package requires two things to work, data and metal. The data comes in the form of a radio-frequency identification (RFID) or Near Field Communication (NFC) tag which tells the device exactly how to heat the product. The package in turn is telling the device about the heating progress based on a temp sensor in the tag. In the case of cans and flexible foil packaging there is enough metal in the existing package to heat the product. In the case of paper, plastic and glass, a metal insert needs to be added to the package either in the base or in the cap.
How is venting handled when heating the package?
Clark: Venting is dependent on the method and temperature of the item being heated. We have a patented design for a steamer package—think single-serve frozen veggies or heating precooked pasta—where we plan for some venting. In the case of a can or bottle, it's not really necessary as the temps we're pursuing generally aren't creating enough pressure to cause issues.
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