PaperTouch, a project exploring the potential of smart paper is underway at LGP2, the Laboratory of Pulp and Paper Science and Graphic Arts at French university Grenoble INP Pagora. The research team, headed up by LGP2 post-doctorate student Fanny Tricot, has founded a start-up within the Linksium incubator. The entity is looking to sign its first contracts by the end of 2020.
“This paper has real added value as it incorporates electronic functions, which can be varied as needed to make it attractive, interactive and connected,” explains Fanny Tricot. PaperTouch’s aesthetic aspect comes by integrating ultra-flat LEDs to create lighting effects that can vary from steady to flash mode, while its interactive function is made possible thanks to the creation of a tactile area on its surface. “Simply touching or blowing on the paper can trigger different effects, such as a change of color,” Tricot notes. And by embedding an NFC tag in the material it becomes connected.
Creating a show in the hands of the consumer
But the project aims to go further. “Our idea is not to limit ourselves to the three functions of a ‘4.0’ paper, but to make its intelligence flexible according to the user’s needs,” Tricot continues. The research team is working on a wallpaper that integrates switches and sensors to assess the environment through temperature, humidity or presence, for example. “What will particularly interest luxury and cosmetics brands is how the paper can differentiate their packs, going so far as to create a show directly in the hands of the consumer!” she notes. The paper’s connected function will also be able to provide more information on the packaging, which often limited in space. “We are also considering—but this is in the development stage—integrating traceability solutions for anti-counterfeiting needs,” Tricot concludes.
In a bid to take an eco-responsible approach, researchers have developed a paper production process made of cellulose fibers. At the end of its life, PaperTouch can be recycled along with cardboard.