The packages of the future will have digital screens attached

Amazon box
A box from Amazon.

Scientists working at the University of Sheffield have come up with a new type of digital screen that could one day feature on the packages being delivered to your home - so you could tap the display to see where it's from, for example.

"Labels on packaging could become much more innovative, and allow customers to interact with and explore new products," says Professor David Lidzey, who worked on the display technology.

Simple messages could be included on the displays, and the tech could eventually feature in greetings cards too. Another use could be as a countdown timer display so you know when your pregnancy test is ready to check.

Brand aid

Tech firm Novalia helped out with the development of the new smart labelling. The process used to create it involves printing electronic tracks onto paper and then using an conductive adhesive to fix low-cost electronics and a polymer LED on top.

The researchers were also able to attach a touchpad keyboard to the display so users could interact with the LEDs (to switch between screens perhaps). The next step is to make the display fully flexible and capable of attaching to any type of package.

Of course the likes of Amazon and John Lewis could use the tech to customise their parcels and create interactive adverts on their boxes - Novalia's Chris Jones says "brand awareness" is one of the potential uses of these displays.

Speaking of packaging, here's our unboxing of the iPhone SE:

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.