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Digital paper with interactivity and sound

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June 5, 2007

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June 6, 2007 Paper has been the predominant advertising medium since advertising began and despite the likelihood that it will lose that mantle in the foreseeable future, there’s life in the old dog yet. Swedish researchers are showing a working prototype of a fourth generation of paper products that can communicate with computers. By combining paper with printed graphic codes and electronically conductive ink that is engineered to be sensitive to pressure. When the paper “buttons” are touched, the sound is played out via the printed speakers. A video of the paper used in large boards and store displays can be seen here. The technology has obvious application in high-impact point-of-purchase promotional displays.

Research teams at the Mid Sweden University forestry industry research program Fiber Science and Communication Network (FSCN) are working on these new paper products which they hope can integrate paper with the digital world.

“We combine paper with printed graphic codes and electronically conductive ink that is engineered to be sensitive to pressure. Then digital information is embedded in the paper, and when it is touched, the information comes out via printed speakers,” says Mikael Gulliksson, project leader for media technology in the comprehensive research project.

One display board prototype shows the marketing of new travel destination using talking postcards. When the postcard is touched, the message is played. Instead of a flat advertising surface, this advertising invites people to enter into and interact with the message.

The same technology has been used in a prototype for a music shop display board. On this slightly bowed board, a number of music albums are printed directly on paper. Just as with a regular sound system, you can sample music by touching the front of the album. The sound is then streamed right out of the paper. The board can easily be replaced as soon as there are new recordings to be marketed. After use, the displays can be tossed into the recycle bin.

The three research teams in the project include scientists from materials physics, media and communication science, and electronics. Paper Four is a research project that collaborates with the paper industry in the mid-Sweden region. The aim is to develop an entirely new paper-based product platform for marketing products and services.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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