Interactive Newsprint

A print version of the Lancashire Evening Post has been created with a button to allow readers to press the newspaper and play audio.

The "smart" newspaper is the latest prototype from an 18-month research project led by the University of Central Lancashire.

Called Interactive Newsprint, the project aims to find a way of connecting a print newspaper to the internet, which researchers believe could offer news organisations new ways of discovering exactly which articles and adverts readers are interested, much in the same way as they gather audience data from content viewed online

Paul Egglestone, digital coordinator at the School of Journalism at UCLan and lead on the Interactive Newsprint project, told that the prototype just released will allow the team to carry out further research.

Egglestone and his team released earlier prototypes to demonstrate to the tester communities "what the technology was capable of".

The new version will be demoed at the London Design Festival next week. "People can interact with it and we may do some live research," Egglestone said.

The video below demonstrates how readers can click the paper to play audio. The footage shows users listening through wireless headphones as the quality is "better than straight from the paper", Egglestone explained.

The newspaper sends a signal to a server to play the audio and gathers data on how many people have clicked to listen.

The latest prototype created by the researchers marks a "step forward in that it is taking an analogue interaction and creating a digital interaction".

The project, which is funded until the end of December, will now look at how people use the latest prototype. Researchers hope to discover whether people "press, tap or scratch a button", Egglestone said. "We'll be getting data on how people interact and can then refine the product before going into the final stage of the project."

Egglestone said the final product may not look very different to the one in the above video but will be refined based on this research.

The Interactive Newsprint project is working with citizen press agency Citizenside "to develop a platform with them", Egglestone revealed. The team is also working with community newspaper Blog Preston.

Egglestone also hopes that there may be a sustainable business to be built around developing the analytics.

The team is keen to take the ideas forward beyond the end of the current project. They would like to explore the opportunities for interactions with user-generated content and the possibility of readers being able to submit stories via a print product.

Researchers from the the Interactive Newsprint project will be speaking at news:rewired. For more information and tickets click here.

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