NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012                                                                                  VOLUME 128, NO. 6.

editor's note...

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 embedded buttons.”

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 paper.

“...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: jobrien@paperage.com

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