June 29th, 2007
A few months ago I came across a prototype billboard allowing customer interaction. Fantastic idea…but never heard anything again until now!
Swedish scientists are to introduce what might be the future of billboards - interactive paper. While many are already familiar with digital pens, this type of “circuitry” paper is quite different. It is responsive to a human touch - the images displayed can change, or play a sound once a certain area on the surface is pressed. And so, boring sheets of paper can turn into interactive, and therefore, more attractive displays, inviting the user to have a closer look.
The billboards are made almost entirely from paper materials, making them cheap to assemble, and easy to recycle, says Gulliksson. "We've used the roll-to-roll methods used by industry to process paper materials."
To make the paper surfaces interactive, the team screen prints patterns using conductive inks containing particles of silver that overlap, allowing a current to flow.
The researchers behind this project call their invention “Paper Four”. This fourth generation of paper, they say, is the next step in using it after printed books, packaging, and hygiene. Because the smart paper contains three layers - an outer layer with the printed design and text, a middle layer containing the conductive inks, connected to a power supply, and a third one made of thick cardboard material - one can easily replace the middle layer, thus changing the billboard’s functionality, and making it respond differently.
These kinds of responsive, smart-paper billboards can be applied to a number of industries: think about an advertisement to any store, on which you can explore the specific item you are interested in, or billboards for holidays, playing music and repainting themselves once triggered by a human touch. I see collaboration with Google maps and London transport.
There are endless opportunities for ad agencies.