This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 21, 2012

Ink that Talks---What's Next in Electronic Publishing

Imagine the possibilities of a book that looks just like a regular hardback book, but press a spot on the graphic, printed on the inside back cover, and it talks to you!

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending one day of the Interactive Track of SXSW (South by SouthWest), the leading edge event held in Austin, Texas every year. One of the sessions we attended was titled “Can Paper Apps Save the Music Industry?”. Headlining the panel was Dr. Kate Stone, CEO of Novalia, a Cambridge, United Kingdom-based company doing groundbreaking research in the emerging field of printed electronics. Specifically Stone's research focuses on creating inks that have conductivity and may be designed to incorporate printed circuits into graphics that are virtually hidden to the consumer looking at the page or poster.

With a PhD in Physics from Cambridge University, Stone founded Novalia in 2004 to explore her ideas for printing circuits on paper and develop commercial applications for her research. At the SXSW session, Stone showed “experience prototypes” to demonstrate how the digital world of sound may be printed on paper: “The Listening Post” is a poster that lists local music events in an area for a given month. Users can press on the poster to hear a sample of the artist's music and then press to buy tickets for the engagement, using a smartphone interface.

They also demonstrated a cookie carton that folded into a fire truck, complete with siren and bell, a pill package that reminds you to take your pill, then can record the date and time you took it, and a tissue box that becomes a toy piano.

Stone is dedicated to producing goods locally in the US or Europe, avoiding Asia altogether. She strongly believes that the costs and processes can be made reasonable enough. She wants to keep the jobs in local communities, where they are needed. Stone believes that “creating products by playing on low labor cost markets is not sustainable”.

This new platform for creating printed applications within paper will inspire designers to take product design and functionality into a completely new level.

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