press release
Published: 11 July 2018

Paper Magic exhibition

The Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey has been selected to showcase ‘Next Generation Paper’, as part of an exhibition entitled ‘Paper Magic’.

The futuristic exhibition, which brings together paper innovations from across Europe, takes place in the COMM Museum, The Hague from June to December 2018.

The £1.2m research project, led by Professor David Frohlich, will develop paper materials to allow readers to ‘interact’ with what they are reading.  This hybrid form of paper will combine ‘print and digital’ information to enable users to play video clips, animations, sound recordings or music just by turning a page or pressing a printed button.

“What we are creating is something like the moving pictures in what might be called Harry Potter paper” explains David. “Opening or touching the page of a newspaper could indeed display a moving image rather than a static one, but on a nearby device rather than on the page itself. Interestingly, the Harry Potter images are silent. Our technology lends itself to playing sounds from a printed image.”

The project team from Surrey are working with Bradt Travel Guides, one of the world’s leading travel publishers, to create the first augmented travel guide book to Cornwall. The interactive book will provide an innovative resource to the travel and tourism industry where people read a combination of printed and digital information. It will offer readers a more enriching and immersive experience, combining extra pictures, videos, web links and interviews with local characters. The extra digital content has been created by Kirsty Fergusson, author of Bradt’s Slow Travel Cornwall guidebook, and design researcher Emily Corrigan-Kavanagh on the Next Generation Paper project, in a new kind of authorship process. 

“Everyone I’ve spoken to in Cornwall in the course of gathering data has been fascinated – and amazed – by the idea of touch-sensitive paper,” says Kirsty, “although one of my interviewees in Penzance laughed in disbelief and muttered ‘witchcraft!’” 

“Translating published books to augmented paper is tricky,” remarks Emily. “Current publishing software was not intended for this purpose, forcing us to become more creative and inventive in how we approach it. Consequently, the new emerging workflow process has the potential to remodel completely how books are made and consumed.”

Appearing in the exhibition is a video demonstration of the book and the first augmented ‘interactive’ guide book will be available at the museum later this year. As David explains in a Q&A interview as part of the exhibition “Next Generation Paper will make a lot of media tangible again. You don’t normally expect a book or magazine to sing or show you a video. There is something magic about that.”

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