Imagine walking by a paper poster on the street and hearing it speak to you, imagine reading a book and being immersed in an atmospheric soundscape as you touch one of its images …
Researchers at the Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall found a way to embed touch sensors and speakers (made out of paper) in paper. They distinguish between three generations of paper use: a first for writing, a second for packaging and a third for hygiene. They envision a fourth generation of paper for interactive purposes. Using traditional roll-to-roll print processes employing conductive inks, printable circuitry etc., they developed an interactive billboard prototype.
Advances in organic and plastic circuitry and chipdesign might soon make it possible to work with much thinner substrates and in time lead to the point where the interactive e-paper becomes perceptually hard to distinguish from normal paper.
Considering the pervasive presence of paper in our society and the use of existing print practices e-paper developments might rapidly (r)evolve into a disruptive, ubiquitous technology, provided sustainability issues can be tackled efficiently.