Scientists create digital paper that talks
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” is a famous line worldwide uttered by the evil queen in the classic Snow White cartoon. While her mirror comes with magical properties that enable it to come up with a skewed reply in queen’s favor most of the time, we folks don’t have to rely on hocus pocus as there is always technology to perform “magic”. Researchers from Mid Sweden University have successfully developed an interactive paper billboard that is smart enough to emit recorded sound in response to a user’s touch, thanks to the utilization of conductive inks and printed speakers.
To delve into the subject deeper, the billboard consists of a layer of digital paper that comes with built-in electronics. Conductive inks, when applied with pressure, will then relay information to a tiny computer that holds pre-recorded audio files. An appropriate file will be selected with the printed speakers playing those sound snippets. The speakers themselves are formed by the very same conductive ink used so far, except that they sit over an empty cavity to form a diaphragm. The billboard’s design and a thick sheet of extra durable cardboard sandwiches this functional layer.
Some of the more practical uses would be to utilize such technology in product packaging or at product kiosks to give an unprecedented level of interactivity with customers. The displays are currently extremely expensive to produce, which is why researchers are looking for different ways to lower costs in order to increase affordability for vendors. I can forsee the government passing a law to make this talking paper mandatory when it comes to cigarette packaging in order to nag smokers to quit their habit. What about Playboy centerfolds that talk back? What are some of the more practical applications that you would like to share?