German electronics giant colossus Siemens predicts it will launch a revolutionary new promotional gizmo within two years - flexible digital screens, no thicker than paper and capable of displaying animated images.

Even allowing for its natural enthusiasm, it seems Siemens is onto something big that could change forever the way in which disposable packaging carries advertising and informational messages.

If the backroom team delivers on the company's promises, wafer-thin digital flat screens will be flashing and blinking graphics at customers from product packages by 2008.

The display technology comprises a polymer-based photochromic material, that will enable companies to display moving ads, nutritional information and special offers on their product ranges.

The screens are activated by an on-off electrical charge from microscopic batteries which stimulate an electrochemical reaction. This prompts digital text and images to appear and disappear. Currently the technology is monochrome-only but colour and video are on the cusp of breakthrough.

Siemens engineer Axel Gerlt is not given to overstatement: "When kids see flashing pictures on cereal boxes," he says, "we don't expect them to just ask for the product, but to say, 'I want it."

Data sourced from DW-World (Germany); additional content by WARC staff