Interactive newsprint: Harry Potter magic, The Force – or just plain brilliant?

interactive newspaperWe’ve all seen The Daily Prophet in the Harry Potter movies or The Force in Star Wars – but now a collaboration between UK researchers and a printed electronics business is beginning to turn science fiction into fact.

At this week’s Digital Editors Network (DEN) meeting at the MediaFactory at Preston’s University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) saw how the world’s first digital interactive newspaper is becoming a reality.

Interactive Newsprint is a project led by the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at UCLan.  By touching various parts of the page, readers can activate content ranging from audio reports, web polls or advertising – all contained within the paper itself. Interactive paper is a type of “smart” paper. It is responsive to a human touch, which means sheets of paper can turn into interactive displays.

We had a demonstration at DEN when we got to try out an internet-connected version of the Lancashire Evening Post.

I’d first seen it at a BBC connecting communities conference in Media City last year. I don’t know if it’ll ever catch on, but it always brings a smile to my face whenever I see it.

What a great opportunity to use audio, podcasts etc to add value to a story or feature! It seems a promising way to engage readers and communities in different ways.

Perhaps newsprint and digital aren’t so far apart after all?

Check out the interactive newsprint website here.

The latest DEN meeting looked at why the RWD (Responsive Web Design) vs AWD (Adaptive Web Design) is such a hot debate right now and how most publishers are looking seriously at their mobile offerings. At certain times of day the Guardian now has more visitors from mobile devices than from desktops or laptops – and Abigail Edge from the Express and Star said that by the end of the year she expects half of traffic to her site to be coming from mobile devices (it’s currently around 40%).

Check out the live blog of the meeting.

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