Paper Apps

After 6 months of travelling around the States climbing I am back to begin my PhD. The title is Paper Apps, and it looks at applications for paper based printed electronics.

PhD Project Summary

Paper is the most versatile information and entertainment platform that we have. It is thousands of years old; is read-writable and is ubiquitous. It can be worthless and disposable or priceless and treasurable. What it doesn’t do is connect to the Internet. But what if it could? Novalia’s printed electronics technology enables paper to become electronic. You can turn paper into a touch sensitive area; you can connect the Internet, MP3 players, simple visual elements (LEDs/EL), mobile phones and so on. In other words paper can become new forms of Apps. However, new knowledge of how to integrate printed-paper electronics from a user centred design perspective is desperately needed. To illustrate this, consider the following positions:

* The difficulty for the printed electronics is that the investment in technology push is at times widening the gap between what the technology can do and what the market needs (NewElectronics, 2011)

* Design and creativity led innovation provides a significant competitive advantage to companies. “Companies that invest in their design capability and develop a reputation for innovation can avoid competing on price alone”. (Design Council, 2008)

In the PhD project Paper Apps, we want to explore how to join these two positions through design activity to explore new methods to generate new business for the printed electronics industry. The approach will be based on testing how the world will react to a future of hidden digital technology through experience prototypes and design concepts. Key research questions are:

* What methods can we use to test and predict social responses to emerging technology trends?

* What is the role of design in providing evidence on future trends in plastic and printed electronics?

* What methods can be developed to prepare designers, manufacturers and consumers for a sudden potential rise in printed and plastic electronic technology?

I have started off my work by making some quick paper prototypes. These prototypes look at what paper electronics could be in the music industry.

This is a pair of paper headphones which use paper thin piezos and silver conductive paint.

E.L record sleeve.

Record sleeve with circular LED array. This was created using BARE conductive paint and a laser cut stencil. BARE conductive paint has much higher resistance than the silver conductive paint, but is much more versatile as it can be screen printed. It is also much cheaper so it makes playing around a bit less stressful….

Paper USB pen using silver conductive paint and the circuit from within an old USB pen.

The experimenting continues…….

One thought on “Paper Apps”

  1. Hi, Am interested in new opportunities for new paper based products and was wondering how the research is progressing. Have you had any interest from paper companies/converters?

    Graham Moore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *