HP SmartStream + Link brings an interactive layer to HP Indigo variable data printing

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article first appears in the HP Daily Tabloid, published at the enormous Drupa printing conference in Germany. The mock label has a digital watermark that triggers a mobile experience when scanned with the Link Reader app.

By Warren Volkmann, Editor
HP Developers Portal

Variable Data Printing - the ability to make every printed item look unique or carry a unique identity - is where the action is at Drupa 2016. What “mail merge” did for mass mailings in the 1980s, Variable Data Printing does for packaging and publishing today. It’s like mail merge on steroids. Now every individual package, box, container, book, brochure, or ad insert can have a unique look.

However, looking unique is not nearly as useful as acting unique. With HP Link Technology, which is making its debut at Drupa 2016, all those unique printed products can act unique.

Think about what this means: print is now part of the linked universe. A printed image, such as a label on a product, can function like a mobile webpage and trigger a rich digital experience on a mobile device, or function as an IoT tracking device (at a fraction of the cost of RFID and other technologies).

Integrated into HP SmartStream Designer

SmartStream Designer is HP’s variable data platform widely used by Indigo press owners. The addition of Link brings new options for variable data workflows.

Link uses unique IDs (equivalent to assigning “serial numbers” to each print, package, or container) to make every printed item individually recognizable and secure. Amir Gaash, R&D project manager in HP’s Indigo Division, says “Customers are asking for HP Link with SmartStream Designer. The need for serialization and security printing is a hot topic in the packaging market.”

Sandeep Prabhu, on the HP Link Platform team explained, “A simple way to conceptualize SmartStream and Link is as the third type of variable data in a Variable Data Printing workflow in pre-press. That means, variable data could be any or all of text, images, and Linked experiences. The specific advantage over other types of variable data is that the experience Link triggers on a smartphone can be created at any time and can evolve over time if desired.”

At the big Drupa 2016 show in Dusseldorf, Germany, the Link team used this mock label to show how a printed image can trigger a mobile experience when it is scanned with the Link Reader app on a digital device. 


HP SmartStream Designer + Link will be available as early as July 2016. Visit the Link Developers Center to learn how you can unlock the power of unique identity for your packages, products, and publications.

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Author : TheSkipper