The other day I wrote a hand-written letter and found that my hand-writing looked like barbed wire. I realised that it had been a good while since I had used any hand-writing skills due to my increasing reliance on typing everything. It seems obvious to me that the archaic technology of hand-writing is being slowly killed by digital technologies, creating what has been called the paper-digital divide. Yet just when the patriotic hand-writers thought things couldn’t get worse, society unleashed something called “digital paper” or iPaper.
With the use of a digital pen iPaper allows hand-written notes, or sketches, to be digitally captured and stored. The ‘ink’ absorbs light transmitted from the digital pen, which contains a receiver that interprets the pattern of light reflected from the paper. This is creating new possibilities for publishing new forms of interactive based documents without having to worry about your pen running out of ink!
What seems more intriguing is that iPaper allows users to develop a wide range of interactive paper-based interfaces and applications without having to do any programming. Furthermore, active areas on the paper can be linked to and from a wide range of physical and digital media including web pages, images, video, flash animations, databases and RFID tags as well as application programs.
Some of the more interesting and useful applications that have been developed thus far include:
- A presentation tool suitably called PaperPoint. This is taking PowerPoint presentations to a new level by allowing one to control the presentation via a paper-based user interface.
- In Edinburgh they’ve created a tourist information system which provides users with information on venues and events at the Edinburgh festivals. Tourists are also able to enter and share reviews on the spot.
- In Zurich they’ve created a city map which provides digital information on restaurants, cinemas, shopping facilities and so on.
- And one that is not just for tourists, but which also applies to digital journalists, is the “paper-based travel diary” – allowing one to integrate hand-written notes with pictures taken from a digital camera.
So for those of us who are still great appreciators of the art of hand-writing there’s still hope for maintaining our craft whilst keeping abreast of the latest in digital technologies.
Will e-readers end the Age of the Book?