Connected Paper, EKKO and Analytic Futures: News and Paper Data

October 28, 2015
Mark Lochrie


Over the last year, our research has sought to explore the intersection between the physical and digital in the context of the increasingly expansive field of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). Our ‘physical’ is EKKO, a clip that powers conductive inks creating a capacitive touch matrix on paper. The digital takes the form of ‘Interface’: an IoT publishing platform capable of transferring media and data to and from the web-connected print & collecting analytics from the interactions, and a companion app that enables the novel user experiences.

EKKO comprises off the shelf technologies; an Electric Imp combined with a capacitance sensor to measure the ink button presses, a small rechargeable Li-Po battery and an LED for user feedback. It is situated at the edge of a piece of print and clip pressure enables a circuit connection. The Electric Imp was adopted due to its ability to easily scale, open community and security. The companion app is a second screen to print, once paired the app delivers rich content seemingly embedded in the print.

‘Interface’ provides real-time updatable content to internet- connected print and displays analytics associated with the print, its touch-points and user engagement with content, and therefore generates record and visualise ‘Paper Data’. Additionally, Interface is being developed to work with other internet-connected objects. It is designed to be only accessible by the publishers of the content and print content and therefore the design choices for how it works are influenced by ease of use for publisher, their workflow and how they would choose to experience the platform.

Following the development of Interface and EKKO, the research team feel there is a broad range of future work to be pursued within the news industry, but also beyond it. This would be designed to explore digital opportunities relating to the ubiquity of paper and its role in our everyday lives, how to meet a range of further research questions – such as interaction approaches, robustness and scalability, and exploring use cases across a range of industries.

Authors: John Mills, Mark Lochrie , Andy Dickinson, Paul Egglestone , Tom Metcalf
Abstract: Advances in conductive inks and increasingly accessible and flexible platforms, such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi, are allowing researchers to transform a range of surfaces, including paper and additive layer objects, into capacitive surfaces. When imbued with Internet connectivity, and placed within the ‘Internet of things’, opportunities to create interactive surfaces that respond to touch and offer audio playback or other data transfer via additional connected peripherals emerge. This poster explores the potential for web-connected paper interfaces with the media and publishing sector and an accompanying content management and system-analytics package to present a range of content, design, interaction and revenue-based opportunities for related industries. It also hints at how paper could be a viable interactive surface and posits
potential related work on a wider and cross-industry spectrum.

Where: 2015 ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces
Publication date: 16/11/2015
Document: pdf