Digital World Research Centre
News story

Next generation paper award

Digital World to lead new project on the future of paper

A multidisciplinary  team led by David Frohlich at Digital World has won £1.17m to explore the future of paper. The project is funded by the Digital Economy programme administered by EPSRC, and will start on the 1st October 2017 for 30 months. Five groups and Investigators are involved at Surrey and one at the Open University as follows:

  • Digital World Research Centre (DWRC), Prof David Frohlich
  • School of Hospitality and Tourism, Prof Caroline Scarles
  • Centre for Vision Speech & Signal Processing (CVSSP), Prof Mirek Bober
  • Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), Dr Radu Sporea
  • Surrey Centre for the Digital Economy (CODE), Prof Alan Brown
  • Department of Geography, Open University, Dr George Revill

The project proposal was in response to a call on ‘Content creation and consumption in the digital economy’. It aims to create new technology and business opportunities in the publishing and tourism industries.  It will do this by using augmented reality and printed electronics to connect paper to the web, in what the team call second generation (2G) and third generation paper (3G). If today’s ordinary paper is considered first generation (1G) paper, then 2G paper will be optically recognised with a camera, triggering associated digital information to be played or displayed on a nearby device. 3G paper will dispense with the camera and contain tiny sensors printed or embedded in the fibres of the paper itself. This will trigger the same kind of associations around it. In this way, paper documents and books could have hotlinks to webpages, audio, video clips and so on that could play on speakers or screens around them. The team will be looking at how this could change and connect the use of paper and screen-based information in tourism, where tourist brochures and guides already co-exist with mobile apps, digital photography and online booking systems. More information is available in a press release here

 A key feature of the project is that it will be investigating new business models for next generation paper, alongside building and testing the technology itself. This means that it will be working closely with its industrial partners on options for commercialisation and establishing industry standards. Partners include:

  • Bradt Travel Guides
  • Emirates Holidays UK
  • HP
  • Librios Web Publishing
  • Otava Publishing Company
  • Ifolor Photo Printing
  • Novacentrix