CLEMSON – The challenge is to design an interactive package for a fitness tracker. Students from all over the United States believe they have what it takes to successfully meet this challenge. Several Clemson students are part of this group and are eager to show off their skills and knowledge.

The students are part of Clemson professor Andrew Hurley’s Packaging Science 3200, Packaging Design Theory, class. They are preparing to compete in the 2017 Paperboard Packaging Alliance Student Design Challenge in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hurley said this event is a “wonderful opportunity” for his students to meet with industry leaders and showcase their talents.

“Proper packaging is becoming more and more challenging,” Hurley said. “As products become more innovative, the ability to provide innovative packaging becomes more important. Participating in competitions such as this allows our students to practice what they have learned in the classroom. The students are able to apply what they have learned and create projects that are very similar to what they will be doing in their careers.”

“Competitions such as this bring context to theory learned in the classroom,” he said.

Clemson students traveling to the completion are divided into three groups. One group consists of Hannah Gorman of Columbia, Patrick Henry of Greenville and Samuel Marioni of Saint Matthews. Another group is Anna Chastain of Pickens, Jessica Martin of Charleston and Sarah Petro-Roy of Landsdale, Pennsylvania. The final group is made up of Bailee Boulware of Anderson, Tori Clougherty of Hartsville, Nicholas Richards of Chaplin and James Wingo of Clemson.

Fitness trackers are wearable technology that can track data from miles ran to heart rate to calories burned and so on of the person wearing them. For the contest, package requirements included creating an interactive package (box) for a wristband tracker or a necklace tracker. The package must be used to store the product, as well as allow customers to try on the product.

Equipment the students used to create the packages include digital die cutters, a thermoformer and large format Ultra Violet printers.

Boulware is a member of the Tiny Whipped Conquerors group, which owns the Inclination Company. Their packaging design includes box with a window that is more rounded to fit the shape of a wrist. The window is thermoformed so that the tracker fits into it and is more secure and stable. Thermoforming involves using heat and pressure to shape material such as plastic.

“The thermoformed window makes our package different because it makes the idea of wearing the tracker more realistic,” Boulware said.

The thermoformed window came as a result a competitive analysis conducted by the group. After running this analysis, the group determined their package was not visually enhancing. They made a few modifications including giving it a thinner look with a more innovative, thermoformed window. In addition to the tracker, the group’s package design also holds its charger.

Tiktok is the brand name for the package Chastain’s group has designed. The package is a cube that flips open at a diagonal into a triangle.

“The graphics are black with accents of bright green and white,” Chastain said. “One side of the package houses a fitness watch that is held in place by a locking mechanism. This allows the customer to try on the watch without taking it out of the package completely.”

A pull-down flap that reveals a drawer which is used as storage for an extra watch band and the tracker’s face is located on the bottom of the package. The drawer can be taken out and inserted on the other side of the box doubling as a charging stand for a phone.

The other Clemson group came up with two package ideas before scrapping them and deciding on a more innovative look.

“Originally, we were going to go with a pyramid design,” Henry said. “Then, we moved to a triangle design for the hack prototype. We scrapped both of these ideas and came up with an innovative rectangular package. We also redesigned the graphics to give our package a high quality appearance.”

The original design was similar to a pyramid design and could be shipped more efficiently, Henry said. However, this design did not have enough room for the watch and it compromised the security of the watch. The final design is a carbon fiber black package with a gold logo.

“This package conveys high quality and it has a sleek clean look and feel,” Henry said. “The rectangular design is lightweight and allows for maximum shipping efficiency. The interior of the package displays the tracker to consumers without sacrificing security.”

Henry’s group’s package also is recyclable.

The three Clemson groups travel to Las Vegas in late September for the competition. Hurley said he believes the Clemson students will “stand out” as they present their packaging projects.