News and events

Interactive Newsprint heads to SxSW Festival

11 March 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

Preston-based project appears at world-famous South-by-South-West festival

• UCLan's Interactive Newsprint project connects touch-sensitive paper to the internet.

• Research has produced 'interactive' prototypes with community and international publishers in the UK, and from Europe and South America.

• Technology enables readers to listen to audio, vote and 'Like' content on the paper by simply touching it.

• Appearing at SxSW panel 'Pitchforks and Printed Electronics' on March 10th, 4pm GMT with international news website Worldcrunch.

Imagine traditionally printed paper that can connect to the internet, play audio, offer live 'touch-voting' and link with social media.

It might take the form of a poster or cereal packet that streams local radio right into your kitchen, or a newspaper that delivers your daily community news in audio form, or perhaps a map of world that provides the latest audio headlines from around the globe.


Over the last two years, 'Interactive Newsprint' – a research project led by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and involving the University of Dundee, University of Surrey and technology partner Novalia - has explored a radical new media future: one that's not based around touch screens and instead uses cutting-edge printed electronics to connect the web to standard, everyday paper.


Working with communities throughout Preston UK and internationally, the project has prototyped a host of different 'interactive paper' platforms that can detect human touch, play audio files, create voting points and upload and download information to the web.


Interactive Newsprint and Paris-based news website Worldcrunch are now set to go international and present its latest prototype at the world-renowned technology, music and film festival, Southby-South-West (SxSW).


SxSW: Pitchforks and Printed Electronics

UCLan's Paul Eggleston, the project lead investigator, Tom Metcalfe - designer and researcher at the University of Dundee - and Garrett Goodman of international news and information website will be talking about the technology, its potential and how it might help communities to tell and receive content from around the globe.


Paul Eggleston, director of UCLan's Media Innovation Studio, said: "It's great to be at the world's biggest and best interactive festival 'South by' is the perfect place to show Interactive Newsprint.


“It's always interesting turning up at digital festivals and surprising a few folk with what we're doing. We love screen based tech - mobiles and tablets - but it's not the only potential future for displaying news and information, especially when you consider that communities will be able to create this stuff themselves from scratch."


The project's latest collaboration with the media start-up Worldcrunch has produced an interactive global map that lets users to touch regions around the world to hear content taken from around the web, and then edited and translated by the Worldcrunch editorial team.

Tom Metcalfe said: "There's the potential to create a beautiful harmony between the finality of print, and the transient nature of news. Connecting paper and print to the internet can be incredibly powerful."

Jon Rogers, Interactive Newsprint lead researcher and director of the product research studio at the University of Dundee, adds: "We've been working closely with our community members in Preston, UK, and now we have a chance to put the ideas generated from this hyper-local community in front of the world's thinkers and generators of the biggest technology ideas.

"What we love is that we think there is a very good chance that the people of Preston might have come up with the very next thing. The biggest idea, and most original thinking and the most radical concept for the future of news might very well have come from a community centre in Preston; not a brainstorming session at a technology giant."

Worldcrunch's Garrett Goodman said: "At Worldcrunch we are platform agnostic and platform curious! ... And as such we were intrigued by the ways interactive print can highlight both the depth and breadth of our global content."