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Smart Skin’s New Packaging Product

Smart Skin Technologies of Fredericton has unveiled a new application for its pressure-sensitive material that is already finding traction with a few global food and drink producers.

The company has developed technology called Quantifeel, which detects pressure on surfaces and produces real-time graphics on devices or computers showing where pressure is being exerted. The latest application for the technology is testing cans and other packaging in the food and beverage industry.

Chief executive officer Kumaran Thillainadarajah explained that food and drink companies with huge production lines have problems regulating the flow of cans along the lines. If too many cans pack the lines at once, bottlenecks occur and the system must be halted and fixed, reducing productivity.

By placing Quantifeel drones (fake cans containing Smart Skin’s pressure sensitive device) in the production line, production managers can monitor the pressure and motion in the lines and prevent bottlenecks from happening.

“We were in Germany (earlier this month) at a trade show with the product,” Thillainadarajah in an interview said last week.

“Everyone we spoke to immediately understood the need for this product. They had had no problem with the pricing, and we had significant interest in forming partnerships.”

A native of Sri Lanka, Thillainadarajah started Smart Skin in 2008 with the idea of pioneering a pressure-sensitive skin that could serve as a second touchpad on a smartphone. In 2011, the company realized a better path to market would be a product for golf — molding the pressure-sensitive skin into a golf grip to monitor the golfer’s grip on the club through the entire swing. The team originally planned for a training product, but as they talked to people in the golf industry, they focused more on a product that helps golfers choose the right club in a store.

Thillainadarajah said the golf product is now “moving at its own pace.” Smart Skin has lined up a major partner and it letting that company take the lead in getting the product to market.

“We’re really focusing on packaging because it’s a much larger market.”

The company has been developing the packaging product for about a year, and working on bringing it to market for a few months, he said. It is now in trials with “a handful of very large brand holders,” Thillainadarajah said without providing more details.

The sales cycle for the product is about three months, meaning packaging product could be producing meaningful revenue soon, he said.

In April, Thillainadarajah said the company was looking to raise $1.5 million from angel investors and venture capital funds.

However, in a short time he received $750,000 in funding from Atlantic Canadian angels — a stronger response than he expected. So he is now holding off for a while until he produces more revenue from the packaging product and will look for more venture capital funding.

Thillainadarajah has begun initial talks with venture capital funds and found there are “very interested parties.”