Writing versus typing has been a lifelong argument amongst many. Despite digitalization, paper still plays a central role in our everyday lives. It is used in various products such as newspapers, calendars, food packaging, post-it notes and the list goes on. Although typing has proved efficient in terms of speed and ease of access, handwritten notes proved to be more effective in terms of education and memory. Hand-written notes could definitely be converted digitally, but print digitizers are expensive.
This long debate might soon come to an end with a project led by the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, who are planning to digitize writing. They have developed a paper that can digitize writing with an affordable, touch-sensitive conductive material, attached to the back of the paper.The paper is a typical mill manufactured one that is used regularly. Researchers at CM are making sure that the conductive material should be able to withstand high-volume production and function, along with being cost-effective. A sensor board is connected to the sheet of paper with the conductor (or can be embedded into an object such as a book) to sense touch by enabling the paper to track finger input or writing objects such as a pen or a stylus.
In terms of the conductor, numerous tests were held to look for a material that meets the need of costs along with scalability and interaction with paper. They eventually found two types of conductive material that were suitable: a carbon-loaded plastic sheet and paint. Both of these materials can be adhered to paper and are cost effective. Researchers claim that it will cost $0.30 per sheet for their innovation but assure that costs can be further lowered through large-scale production.
Although more work needs to be done, this project definitely highlights the possibility of achieving a cost-effective paper for digitizing writing. This could definitely be a very important project for education sectors, print media, and various packaging industries.