Paper-thin piano demonstrates the power of printed electronics and NFC
Anyone who uses a smartphone will likely be familiar with NFC technology, which is used for such things as contactless payments, data sharing between devices and secure logins. To demonstrate the versatility of the technology when combined with printed circuitry, Prelonic has created the Paper Piano.
Austrian tech company Prelonic was founded in 2007 to develop and manufacture flexible printed electronic modules, including displays, batteries and sensors. The firm's first product is called PIP, or Prelonic Interactive Paper, which combines printed circuitry and NFC to give users a new way to interact with mobile devices.
The Paper Piano is a demonstration of that technology, and reminds us of Catarina Mota's Piano Box hack from 2012, but instead of using copper tape, LEDs and an Arduino Mega to run the show, the Prelonic concept uses PIP and a smartphone.
The company began by printing a simple keyboard template on a sheet of paper using a standard laser printer. Conductive carbon was then printed on the back of the sheet, and a simple circuit layout printed on a separate sheet. A tiny NFC chip was attached to the underside of the keyboard template, and this sheet placed on top of the circuit layer to form the interface.
To make music, a smartphone running a companion app is positioned to the left of the printed keyboard so it's resting on the NFC chip – a separate power source is not needed for the Paper Piano, as power is delivered to the circuit via the phone's antenna.
When a user touches any of the eight white keys printed on the sheet with fingertips (the black keys don't appear to trigger separate notes for the purposes of this demonstration), corresponding keys on the smartphone display are highlighted and notes sounded via the handset's speakers.
The Paper Piano serves as a simple example of possible applications in advertising, education and gaming only, and is not available for sale. A paper-thin QWERTY keyboard could be a useful implementation perhaps, freeing up precious smartphone screen space and making for a more comfortable typing experience. Or maybe a greetings card where printed graphics could be used to navigate an online photo album displayed on a phone's screen, or control a streamed playlist.
"It is a mainly printed hybrid device, which allows you to play on an 8-key piano music via your mobile phone," said company CEO, Friedrich Eibensteiner. "It’s really only an example what’s possible in this technology world." A video of the Paper Piano project can be seen via the source link below.