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Future Trends: From the 2012 PIA Color Management Conference

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PIA Color Management Conference - Future Trends

One of the sessions that wrapped up the 13th annual PIA Color Management Conference in Scottsdale last month was called Future Trends - Color Management in the New Communication Space. The Printing Industries of America's Vice President of Digital Technologies, Julie Shaffer along with Steve Upton, President of Chromix tag teamed on this very interesting, forward-looking session.

The presentation started with a review of the 2012 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies chart which identifies "tipping point" technologies. A number of these color/printing related technologies were on the menu for this presentation. 

The Cloud - Emerging cloud-based services were up first. Julie and Steve discussed the different cloud-based print production and color management services that have been introduced in the last few years. They discussed services to enable remote proofing, remote access and printer control from companies like EFI with their cloud-based printing service called PrintMe, to remote color tracking and monitoring services like Maxwell from Chromix.



Cloud printing is getting bigger every year. They discussed Google's Cloud Print service and resources like the Cloud Printing Alliance. Both of these services allow printing from a computer or mobile device to a connected printer via the cloud.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) - Mobile is huge! Julie talked about a recent survey that showed just how important the smart phone is to people. If given the choice to give up their smart phone or some other essential, many would give up the other essential. Like…
70% would give up alcohol
63% would give up chocolate
55% would give up caffeine
54% would give up exercise
33% would give up sex (seriously?)
22% would give up their toothbrush
21% would give up shoes
20% would give up their computer.

We do love our smart phones, don't we? Julie and Steve gave the audience more evidence that mobile devices are the future…
In 2012 more than 50% of network devices will ship without a wired port
By 2015, mobile app development projects will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4 to 1
81% of employed adults use at least one personally owned electronic device for business use
Apple shipped more iPads in 2 years than Macs in over 20 years
71% of companies are discussing developing custom mobile apps

Appnation - All those iPads, iPods and iPhones run a lot of apps. The speakers reviewed a few Nielsen figures to show the amazing growth in apps from 2011 to 2012:
Smartphone market penetration:
2011 - 38%
2012 - 50.4%

Android and iOS users:
2011 - 38 million
2012 - 84 million

Average number of apps per device:
2011 - 32
2012 - 41

Time spent on Apps vs. Web:
2011 - 73%
2012 - 81%

"iPad design apps are proliferating at an alarming rate." Julie said, adding that more and more files will be created by tablet apps like Sketchbook Pro or Procreate in the future. Reproducing color from these apps will create additional challenges. Steve noted that the iPad retina display is a very close match to sRGB.

Julie and Steve discussed a few of the many color-related apps that are available, like the myPANTONE app (above). The Pantone app contains all PMS swatch books, allows mobile device display calibration for more accurate rendering of colors in the app, and allows users to print from the device.

3D printing was the next topic up during the session. 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects by using an additive layering process of different materials like metal, glass, wax, plastic, plaster, liquid resin, or even edible food...  Whereas an ink jet printer covers a flat paper surface with a single layer of transparent dots, a 3D printer prints a three dimensional object by building upon layers and layers of covered surface. The technology was actually developed back in the 80s, and has primarily been used for manufacturing prototypes by large companies on very expensive machines. But developments in recent years mean final products are now being created by 3D printers, some of which are under $1000. Now hobbyists, architects, artists, designers, engineers, small businesses and consumers can afford their own inexpensive 3D printers. As Julie pointed out to the audience, It's even become popular to host 3D printing parties, as more uses for 3D printers are developed and their prices continue to drop. 



Bumpyphoto is an online service that will make a three dimensional print from your image. They take your 2D photo and using a 3D printer, create a 3D sculpture of the image in 24-bit color with a matte varnish from a hard plaster-like composite. 


Mobile Action Codes - Julie and Steve discussed mobile action codes and the apps that support them, such as RedLaser, QR Code, Microsoft Tag, Jag Tag, Digimarc, etc… They showed a line graph from data compiled by NellyMoser that showed by Q2 2012, over 10% of the ads in the top 100 magazines used some sort of mobile action code as a tool to bring people to their website or other marketing vehicle.

Mobile linking creates color challenges as consumers see the print ad, and are taken to other dynamic content on their mobile devices such as video and other images. Brand colors should be consistent across all media.



They showed NFC (near field communications) and how it is starting to be used in print ads. Wired Magazine was one of the first publications to include an NFC RFID tag to print advertising (see video above). A passive HF tag attached to a Lexus ad in 500K copies of the issue produced at Quad Graphics. Readers with an NFC enabled smart phone could download a video showing off the car and take its stereo capabilities for a test drive as they placed the phone right on the ad.

Augmented Reality and Print - Augmented Reality (AR) has been around for a few years now. AR is a view of a real world environment whose elements have been augmented with computer generated objects. Julie showed a slide how a Lego package was held up to a camera and the finished, assembled model was superimposed on the top of the package. More and more AR enabled apps are available for mobile devices. This is a great example of print integration with new forms of interactive media. [Note: Look for a separate blog post from me on this technology here soon]

Drupa 2012 - Referring to it as the Ink Jet Drupa, Julie and Steve did quick review from Drupa 2012. They had a list of over 20 companies that offered new roll fed, flat bed and sheet fed ink jet solutions in 2012. Vendors including Konica-Minolta, Xerox, HP, Kodak, KBA, Fujifilm, Screen, Agfa, and Komori were just a few of the vendors that were showing off new hardware last year at Drupa.

Julie and Steve wrapped up their Future Trends presentation with a recap of some of the new standards which will impact the future of the industry…

Lighting Standards - ISO 3664 The new lighting standard incorporates tighter requirements to include more UV energy. An increase in UV light will increase the visible effects of optical brightening agents (OBAs) found in many of todays papers and inks.This UV light must be included in order to more closely match the UV found in daylight. All new booths include the new lamps. Both Just Normlicht and GTI no longer manufacture bulbs incorporating the old standard.

The "M" Standard - The Optical Brightening Agents are added to enhance the brightness of the paper and improve the appearance of the printed product. The presence of these agents in paper creates challenges for successful color management, so new standards (ISO 13655-2009) have been defined to help manage and communicate color for paper containing these brightening agents.

M0 delineates that the measurement was made using "illuminant A" which is the traditional unfiltered tungsten light. Most older measurement instruments would have this kind of light (ie: i1Pro, DTP41, DTP70) This also designates that there is no UV filtering and no polarizing in the process.
M1 was defined to reduce variations in measurement results between instruments due to fluorescence, either by optical brighteners in paper or fluorescence of the imaging colorants or proofing colorants.
M2 describes any non-polarized light that has UV filtered out. This would include measurements made by a UV-cut i1Pro, a UV-cut DTP70, and an iSis in UV excluded mode.
M3 describes a measurement that is polarized and has UV filtered out.


Images used with permission of Julie Shaffer - IPA



Topics: Photography, Creative

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