The bitBook project, a hybrid of analog and digital books, is the winner of the unique Open Call competition organized by the European project INNPAPER. This technology was designed by the Greek startup AmphiLab, whose founder is the mechanical and aeronautical engineer and industrial designer Manolis Kelaidis.
Interactive paper books already exist on the market, mainly in the form of children’s books, but their function is primitive. Most of them are made up of cardboard pages or use systems like plastic buttons or QR codes that require external devices to perform the task.
BitBooks look, feel and smell the same as regular books, avoiding cables or large plastic components, making the technology almost invisible, and enabling a multisensory reading experience.
These devices allow readers to access any digital content
by simply touching “links” printed with conductive ink on the pages of the book. They have an unobtrusive wireless electronic module connected to nearby equipment, like screens or speakers, which performs the output by placing the old traditional printed book into the emerging ecosystem of the Internet of Things (IoT). . For more information, see the IDTechEx Conductive Ink Market 2020-2030 Report: Forecast, Technologies, Players.
They can also be stand-alone books with all digital data stored and embedded in memory chips, using built-in speakers or paper screens to avoid the need for external equipment.
In addition, these hybrids are inclusive, as the actions are intuitive and can also be used by children and people who are not tech-savvy.
In the open call, INNPAPER requested new ideas within the printed electronics sector that would benefit from using the integrated electronic platform that the project has developed over the past three years using paper and conductive inks. The application period ended on August 31, 2020, and following an evaluation process by reviewers, bitBook was chosen as the winner, obtaining privileged access to INNPAPER’s printed electronics pilot line. to strengthen its technology, as well as a detailed report on its technical viability, manufacturing process flow, a roadmap to achieve Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 and an estimated cost.
Amphilab technology is a great innovation especially for music books and for children’s educational and entertainment books. This approach will make it possible to create digital books specifically for children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia or those on the autism spectrum, which are currently not available.
Using INNPAPER’s printed electronics, which include paper batteries, antennas and paper screens (electrochromes), this technology can be enhanced while retaining the great environmental benefits of paper electronics.
What is INNPAPER?
INNPAPER is a European research and innovation project, funded by the European Union, which is developing a new electronic technology based on paper: a recyclable, reusable and renewable material. To do this, the project modifies the cellulose nanofibers that make up paper, producing bespoke papers and inks that are then used to make electronic items such as batteries, displays, antennas and circuitry.
In total, the technology conforms to a configurable electronic board comprising three printed elements (battery, display and NFC system), ready for use in a wide range of industries. To demonstrate its potential, INNPAPER is developing three use cases for different industries: a smart label for the packaging industry, drug and caffeine detectors for the safety and food industries respectively, and bedside diagnostic tests for the medical industry. More information available on the site.
Why use paper and inks as an alternative to traditional electronics?
Discarded electrical and electronic devices are referred to as electronic waste. It is a growing concern that affects the environment as well as human health. The recycling and collection of this e-waste endangers the people in charge of these tasks, who usually live in developing countries. According to a United Nations report, the world produces 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste per year, of which only 20% is formally recycled.
To face the problem of electronic waste, the development of alternative systems to traditional electronics is one of the possible solutions. These systems require less plastic and metal in their manufacturing process. Due to its high recyclability, paper is emerging as an ecological alternative. Its internal composition, based on cellulose fibers, allows its properties to be modified to offer multiple applications: paper which conducts electricity, which absorbs or repels water or which withstands high temperatures without burning.
To assess the environmental impact of the materials and devices developed by INNPAPER, the partners Vertech Group and GuarroCasas will study their life cycle throughout the project, assessing the environmental footprint and the possibilities for reuse and recycling.
Source and top image: Scienseed