Never mind augmented reality and QR codes – technologies that treat print as little more than a prop for iPads and smartphones. If you’re looking for real cutting-edge paper interactivity, you might just want to…dust off your inkjet printer.
All over the world, different people are experimenting with conductive ink that can be applied to any surface to create electric circuits. Once the technology is perfected, the ink can easily be laid down by inkjet printers, be they the web-fed variety or those sitting on desks throughout the land.
Most recently, French industrial designer Jean-Sébastien Lagrange produced a poster that doubles as a lamp by printing a serpentine pattern on paper using conductive ink, linking together a series of LED lights embedded in the sheet. The poster is then connected to a power source with a band of wires. To turn the lights on, simply roll up the bottom of the poster slightly – the roll is then held in position by a magnet. To turn off the light, unroll the poster.
The potential for packaging alone is breathtaking…to say nothing of rescuing all those poor outmoded inkjet printers from the scrap heap.