Web-connected ‘news objects’ to make news physical

Take an everyday object. Connect it to the web. Stream news and information to it!

Take an everyday object. Connect it to the web. Stream news and information to it!

The Media Innovation Studio team’s latest creative challenge explores the potential of everyday objects to connect us to news and information in ways that are such a natural part of our behaviour it wouldn’t seem out of place for your coffee cup to tell you what the weather is doing.

The project led by the Media Innovation Studio’s John Mills is a further evolution of The Interactive Newsprint project delivered by the Studio previously.

John Mills said: “The Interactive Newsprint project discovered there was broad interest in a web-connected paper that can detect human touch, and offer a range of responses to this touch. This includes data transfer to and from the paper, audio play and allowing users to cast votes, answer questions and make choices.

“Technology developed during the Interactive Newsprint project allows publishers to explore alternative interfaces and opportunities that are located in a distinctly different conceptual space from screen-based offerings”.

And it is this technology that is being applied in very different ways to create new user experiences.

Media Innovation studio Director Paul Egglestone said: “This is a really rich area for us and the media partners collaborating with John on the project. It’s not just about creating novel experiences – which is a great (and very cool) thing to do. It’s about exploring physical objects as news and information channels. When we do that we’re also asking ourselves a few questions about what sort of content works on for this object? How do you tell a story on a coffee cup or a knife and fork?”

Whilst all this might sound a bit far-fetched and beyond the bounds of current technology it’s not so far out of reach to be thought impossible.

Tom Metcalfe is lead designer on the project. He says: “Within the news and information sector, many newspaper organisations have, or are in the process of, transitioning from a primary physical to a digital product. What we’re doing here is turning digital products back into physical experiences and discovering how people feel about web connected news objects.”