The German company printechnologics was awarded the Wall Street Journal technology innovation award. This year the committee sorted through 536 applications the world over to select the “Gold Winner”. The strongest selling argument for the company is their product Touchcode, an invisible printed circuit which interacts with touchscreen devices. Touchcode can be printed on paper, cardboard, or another material. When you touch the code with the screen of your mobile device, premium apps and online content are unlocked and loaded onto the device. In essence the system acts like a QR code, except it is faster: no need to switch your phone to camera mode and take a snapshot. Furthermore, since the ink is invisible, it does not affect the design of a product. In terms of applications, possibilities are limitless, with the company currently envisioning, for example, concert tickets onto which you can save videos recorded at the concert with your phone camera. The whole thing is starting to look a lot like the hype films that Nokia and Samsung have been showing to promote their graphene research, featuring ultrathin foldable devices.
But wait: Touchcode doesn’t even use graphene! It’s not exactly certain what printechnologics uses in their protected technology, but there is no mention of graphene anywhere on their website or in the patents. In fact, all their recent patent applications are based on electrolytes, like NaCl, or, for the layman, salt. In terms of cost, Laptop Magazine claims that Touchcode can be printed on, for example, game cards, for less than a penny per unit.
So, can regular kitchen salt defeat graphene for printed electronics? Graphene-based printed ink manufacturers will have to work hard to make their product cheaper if they want to compete with Touchcode.
Take a look at the printechnologics website, there are some cool videos as well as more information about the product.