One of the holy grails of the self-playing media industry is talking paper.  Imagine reading a book or newspaper and being able to tap or swipe a printed quote, to hear the actual voice of the speaker.  The biggest challenge is getting the electronics thin enough.  Surprisingly, the audio chip or IC is not the problem, it’s the battery and speaker that contribute to a high 3mm+ profile.  Over the years, we have worked with printed and membrane battery companies such as PowerPaper and  Solicore, but none of these batteries have the amperage to drive a dynamic speaker.  We have also experimented with bimorph piezoelectric transducers and actually produced paper board thin gift card holder for Linens-N-Things a few years ago.  We even flew to Japan to visit with Toppan Forms Co. and review their “Audio paper,” which is just 0.75 millimeters thick…. but found it way too expensive for consumer products and disappointed with sound incapable of emotional expression.

We haven’t given up yet, and in the meantime, fascinated to come up with news reports of wearable electronics that can make paper “talk”.

Japan’s NTT DoCoMo showed a prototype technology at Japan’s Ceatec exhibition this week that essentially takes any paper surface—a sheet of writing paper or the page of a book—and with the tap of a finger turns it into a display before your eyes.   Read more here.

A reporter tries on NTT DoCoMo's space interface glasses during a demonstration at the Ceatec expo in Japan on September 30, 2013.

A reporter tries on NTT DoCoMo’s space interface glasses during a demonstration at the Ceatec expo in Japan on September 30, 2013.