‘Pulp-Based Computing’ Makes Normal Paper Smart
New Scientist (09/19/07) Inman, Mason
MIT researchers are developing technology that could be used to make paper embedded with wires, sensors, and computer chips, creating “pulp-based” computing. MIT researchers, working with colleagues at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, are blending traditional paper-making techniques with electronic components.
MIT researcher Marcelo Coelho says paper-making is an ancient process, but the ability to make paper responsive and interactive has only recently become available. The team first produces a layer of paper pulp and adds wires or conductive ink before adding another layer of pulp and pressing and drying, embedding the electronics in the paper. The electronics in the paper can create paper with speakers or touch sensors.
Making paper with two layers of conductive ink allows the paper to sense when it is being bent, which could be used to add sounds to books, creating a more interactive form of story telling. This technique could also be used to make cardboard boxes that can sense how much weight is inside them by measuring the stress on their walls.
“Paper-based computation is an expression of one future area for electronics–flexible and stretchable circuits,” says Jean-Baptiste Labrune of the University of Paris-Sud in Orsay, France. “This means that we could think about computational objects without the traditional limits of electronics.”