A team of US researchers has developed a simple printing process that renders any paper or cardboard packaging into a keyboard, keypad or other easy-to-use human-machine interfaces.
Innovators from Purdue University hope their new technology can help transform paper sheets from a notebook into a music player interface and make food packaging interactive.
“This is the first time a self-powered, paper-based electronic device is demonstrated,” said Ramses Martinez, assistant professor in Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering.
“We developed a method to render paper repellent to water, oil and dust by coating it with highly fluorinated molecules”.
“This ‘omni-phobic’ coating allows researchers to print multiple layers of circuits onto paper without getting the ink to smear from one layer to the next one,” Martinez said in the study published in the journal Nano Energy.
The innovation facilitates the fabrication of vertical pressure sensors that do not require any external battery, since they harvest the energy from their contact with the user.
This technology is compatible with conventional large-scale printing processes and could easily be implemented to rapidly convert conventional cardboard packaging or paper into smart packaging or a smart human-machine interface.
“I envision this technology to facilitate the user interaction with food packaging, to verify if the food is safe to be consumed, or enabling users to sign the package that arrives at home by dragging their finger over the box to properly identify themselves as the owner of the package,” Martinez said.
Additionally, the research group demonstrated that simple paper sheets from a notebook can be transformed into music player interfaces for users to choose songs, play them and change their volume.