Preston News

Researchers are testing the technology by creating a hyperlocal interactive newspaper called 'Preston News'

A research project led by the University of Central Lancashire is creating what it believes to be the first internet-enabled newspaper.

The project, called Interactive Newsprint, plans to create a printed publication using a type of "smart" paper that responds to the human touch.

The new type of publication is being designed to carry community news, according to a post on the BBC College of Journalism website.

"We are developing an entirely new platform for community news and information by connecting paper to the internet to create what is believed to be the world's first internet-enabled newspaper," Paul Egglestone, digital coordinator UCLan's school of journalism, media and communication writes.

According to the Interactive Newsprint website, the "smart" paper will see images or text printed on it change, or play a sound once a certain area on the surface is pressed.

"This means that sheets of paper can turn into interactive displays," the site states.

The development could provide a "lifeline to the print element of the news industry," Egglestone states in a video introducing the project on the Interactive Newsprint website.

Egglestone states in the BBC College of Journalism post: "The aim of the new technology is to bridge the digital gap, giving people access to the internet through a new platform, and also to encourage new forms of community news, communication and social engagement."

The Interactive Newsprint site gives example of how the technology could be used. "For example, imagine a community news poster with an interactive title. This could be designed to advertise and illustrate articles read aloud at the push of embedded buttons around the edge of the poster.

"The title text could show the times of forthcoming community events or meetings. Alternatively, imagine a home notice board display or picture frame containing active paper to which community club members could broadcast club news in short SMS text messages and voicemails."

As Eggleston states in the post: "Digital devices and microphones, buttons, sliders, colour-hanging fibres, LED text displays and mobile communication can all be used in an interactive newspaper."

The Preston-based team has been working on the project for some months and is now testing the technology "in both a lab and field setting to explore new forms of digital storytelling and more effective ways of connecting communities to the content they're most interested in".

They are doing so by creating a hyperlocal interactive newspaper dubbed 'Preston News' and a poster.

Experiments with audio could include the ability to listen to the newspaper being read in local Lancashire accents "which is beautifully simple and exciting", Dr Jon Rogers of the University of Dundee states in the video.

The new project, funded by the Digital Economy (DE) Programme and led by UCLan, is working with technology company Novalia and the universities of Dundee and Surrey, according to Eggleston's post.

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