NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012 VOLUME 128, NO. 6.
Interacting with Paper
by John O'Brien, Managing Editor
For some time now electronic media has
spelled the death of print. But what if electronics
found a way to interact with paper and
make paper its medium of choice as a way to
connect with the world?
Say hello to interactive paper and a
group of innovative developers who formed
Interactive Newsprint — a collaborative effort
between the University of Central Lancashire
(UCLan), University of Dundee, University of
Surrey and printed electronics firm Novalia to
develop and test a new idea for community
news based on digital interactive paper.
At one of the world’s top technology festivals,
South-By-Southwest in Austin, Texas,
which showcases cutting edge innovation and
ideas in digital film, music and interactive
media, Paul Egglestone a leader of the
Interactive Newsprint project, said, “We are
actively prototyping and testing radically new
forms of interaction between people and the
internet that have not been seen before.
We are connecting people to the internet
using paper and adding the potential benefits
of some online features like analytic data on
user interactions. This is dynamite for the
print industry and opens up a whole series
of new ways to fund the future of content
creation — whether that’s news and information,
or, in this case, music”
On the group’s website (www.interactivenewsprint.
org), it states: “Interactive paper is a type
of “smart” paper. It is responsive to a human
touch, which means sheets of paper can turn
into interactive displays. For example, imagine
a community news poster with an interactive
title. This could be designed to advertise and
illustrate articles read aloud at the push of
In a short video on Interactive Newsprint’s
website, narrators talk about the simple nature
of the product that is the foundation of their
work towards the next big thing.
“Tell me a day when you didn’t touch paper
and you didn’t touch an electronic device.
Paper’s everywhere, it’s ubiquitous, we all
know how to use it; we don’t need an instruction
manual, it’s cheap, it’s recyclable, and
we’ve got an infrastructure to print on it. It’s
probably a medium that’s changed the world
many, many, many times. I think it’s got the
ability to change the world many times yet.”
Edwin Kee, a senior associate editor for the
website Ubergizmo, says interactive paper will
change the way the world delivers electronic
information and has this to say about a poster
called the “Listening Post” created from interactive
“...now this is advertising in the 21st century,
and we would expect a snazzy touchscreen
display or sorts, right? Apparently not,
as the Listening Post is made out of paper,
although it does contain printed electronics
that enables it to play song clips when
touched. This is made possible as the circuit is
completed when you push the right “buttons”
on it, as the clever use of conductive ink helps
complete the loop.
Kee explains further the multiple functions
of the interactive poster. “Currently still a prototype,
the “Listening Post” poster is actually a
guide to bands that perform locally. When you
press a thumbnail image, it will play a short
clip of a band’s music.
“A “paper app” might be the next big thing
in terms of advertising,” he adds.
Now that’s got to be music to the ears of
papermakers far and wide.
John O'Brien can be reached at: email@example.com
PaperAge. Copyright © O'Brien Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.