This Paper Can Become Digital in Just Seconds

Carnegie Mellon University engineers developed a new process to transform ordinary paper into a digital reader for just 30 cents per sheet.
Shelby Rogers

Digitizing print material used to be a complex process, often involving scanners or other machines to take the visuals from the "real world" and put them into a computer. This new development from Carnegie Mellon University researchers could bypass the machinery and give paper the upper hand. 

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon developed a paper that can quickly track touch, thus giving them an efficient way to digitize writing and drawing.

The new 'paper' treatment would only cost 30 cents per sheet given its current production methods, but the researchers could even get the cost lower by scaling up production methods. 

No, this paper isn't a mat or a thin screen. It's ordinary paper. The researchers applied an inexpensive conductive material to the back that could one day be produced at a high-volume scale. The team decided on a carbon-loaded plastic sheet that would stick to the paper and then a carbon-loaded paint that can be quickly applied to the paper. 

A sensor board then gets connected to the paper using a conductive backing. That sensor board is what allows for the touch of a stylus or pen or even finger to be digitized and registered to a computer.