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Sat, Sep

Wondering if you see a development like one from Anglo American print specialist Curveball Printed Media impacting your clients’ demands over time. It has launched WiFi enabled video brochures with Android operating system and touchscreen. As its CEO Adam Hazelwood points out, it means “our customers can now update brochures already in the hands of their customer by uploading content over the internet using a desktop app.” Making the ‘brochure’ WiFi enabled and giving it a touchscreen evolves the product from an essentially dumb terminal to a bespoke communications device, and as Hazelwood points out: “Initially we see early adoption from areas where relevant content is fast moving such as the real estate sector, however it won’t be long before restaurants and large charity events will be using them as printed menus with on-board ordering and payment capabilities along with a means of entering a charity auction.” Can you see integration potential for such tech within what might be essentially large-format based print projects?

How cool is it that the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) is putting careers in print and related industries in front of thousands of impressionable youngsters at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo over this coming weekend. And why aren’t our associations over here getting out there and doing something with similar impact? I’ve often spouted off about the need for a pavilion of large-format print possibilities at events where creatives gather (and I don’t mean print trade shows!) - so why not a really exciting careers pavilion in the right locations too? I know, I know, it’s all about time and money but perhaps our associations could work on what must surely be worthwhile investments. We work in a creative industry - let’s be more creative in how we get all its possibilities in front of the widest audience.

Yes, I’ve seen it with my own eyes - printing onto chocolate! What are the most unusual substrates you’ve printed onto? And, more to the point, did the job make you a nice stash of cash? Plenty of PSPs deeply involved in novel print applications R+D tell me it requires a long-term view, the pay-off not coming sometimes for months, even years. If you are one of those with that long-term business-building strategy please give me a shout - I’d like to talk to you!

If you do much with augmented and/or virtual reality as part of your integrated service offering, you might want to take a look at a new report from the BSI. ‘The Requirement for Standards in the VR and AR Sectors’ cites the pivotal role that standardisation will play in moving virtual/augmented reality technology from the niche to the mainstream. It also emphasises the importance of standards for the teaching of virtual reality in order to ensure that the seeds are planted for a strong local talent pool for the UK tech sector. Establishing UK universities as centres for excellence for the teaching of virtual reality related courses is also cited as a desirable goal. Research for the report included interviewing key players from across the design, content capture, production houses, broadcasters and content distributors. No PSPs I bet!

Given that Sign and Digital UK has just announced its debate sessions for next month’s show it seemed timely to ask a question that might in itself stimulate a bit of discussion - do we talk enough? If you know me you’ll know I do! But what about players in the wide-format sector in general? Could we learn more if we stood up and spoke our minds a bit more - and listened to those responding? Just asking and wondering if you fancy doing just that at our next ‘Roundtable’ on the state of the sector – drop me a line if so.

Looking at the snow on the ground it’s difficult to think of much growing at the moment, but plenty of wide-format orientated PSPs seem to be expecting to do just that according the initial analysis of our Widthwise data. So do you think we are set to see more mergers and acquisitions as 2018 progresses? Or do you think we’re more likely to continue to see looser ‘partnerships’ between print companies and operations offering ‘buy-in’ services to extend a PSPs offering as the clamour to be a one-stop shop continues?

I’m just back from a north-eastern print odyssey. Is it just me – and know I have northern roots – or do people think and behave differently around the country? Do you think where you’re based has an impact on how you do business?

I’ve been invited to “experience the next generation of outdoor advertising technology” tomorrow but I can’t make it. Maybe you can - it sounds like it will be worth a look-see if you want to know what printed advertising is up against. Taking place at 7pm - at Central Saint Martins, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London - this is an augmented reality event being put on by students, who have been briefed by media technology company Lightvert to demonstrate the creative potential of Echo - a patented technology that produces huge digital images in the sky. The showcase will feature the winning entries. If you fancy going along you can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lightvertcentral-saint-martins-echo-showcase-event-tickets-43971445778

Are you on the hunt for acquisitions, and if so, where? Is now a good time to be looking to buy or sell a print business? These are questions we’ll be looking into in the upcoming Widthwise report 2018, based on this year’s survey data and my own interviews with PSPs. But, the more input the better, so let me know what you think on the topic

Happy Monday! Sun shining here and busy week ahead writing the Sign and Digital UK and Fespa 2018 previews for the next issue. I’ve asked exhibitors for the heads-up on ‘new’ solutions they intend to ‘launch’ at either event - and I must say there’s hardly a frenzy of activity. Is that because the large-format inkjet sector has plateaued in terms of technical development? There are still improvements to be made, but perhaps the manufacturers can see more profitable developments by targeting markets outside the traditional ‘graphic arts’ sector rather than ploughing huge amounts of R&D spend into what has become their ‘traditional’ market. What are your thoughts - are there still key areas of technical development to be made in this space? Where would you like to see them?

In collaboration with London College of Communication, The Printing Charity is running a project for photojournalism degree students to celebrate and explore the history of print, as well as looking at what print means in today’s society. The aim is for students to use the power of photojournalism to show a positive story of how diverse the printing sector is. The students will present their submissions on 5 March when the work of three students will be selected for credited use in the charity’s publicity material. The winning trio will receive a Print Futures Award - which serves as a reminder that grants of up to £1,500 each are up for grabs to help UK residents aged 18 to 30 years pay for recognised UK courses for a career in printing, paper, publishing, packaging, and graphic arts. Applications for this year’s Awards are now open and will close on Sunday 29 April at 11.59pm. Tell your people!

I’ve been getting quite a lot of marketing info from the organisers of the ‘Material For Architecture’ event in London on 25-26 April, and while it may not be a must-attend for large-format PSPs I thought I’d flag it up as a potentially useful networking space - all those architects in one place. And you might even find some unusual materials to think about printing onto!

It’s always great to see plaudits given to those who are happy to highlight the benefits of working within this industry, so congratulations to It Has To Be Brilliant MD Simon Tabelin for gaining honorary life membership of the BAPC for his efforts. I know plenty of others work hard to get print in front of potential employees, but in the last issue of Image Reports we highlighted a scheme called Brief Cases (http://bit.ly/2BG8VSt) – a model for co-operation between academia and industry, to ensure the right talent gets to the right jobs. Its founder Veronica Heaven wants large-format print companies to get involved, so should you?

Well done SDUK organisers for nabbing Mary Portas as the show’s keynote speaker. This is what we need - something that will put print on the radar! Then we have news of Probo getting print possibilities in front of creatives at the inaugural Pure Digital event. Roll on April….

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