Inexpensive touch-sensitive paper instantly digitizes written notes

Researchers have introduced a new touch-sensitive paper that can track input and automatically digitize it. The system involves conductive film and a carbon-loaded paint applied to paper, among other things. The end result is a type of paper that detects touches from both fingers and writing instruments, transforming the process of digitizing handwritten content.

The touch-sensitive paper was developed by researchers with Carnegie Mellon University; they demonstrate the prototype on video (below) and detail their work in this paper. As shown in the video below, the paper is connected to a MacBook using a USB cable. The drawn content is instantly transferred to the laptop.

The researchers indicate that a single-use touch panel could be used with in regular daily applications. Someone can write on the touch-sensitive paper, then either file the paper away or throw it away. At a sufficient enough volume, the cost of producing this sensing paper could be reasonable for regular use (below $0.30 per sheet).

Though existing products merge together both the digital and physical writing mediums, they usually involve proprietary systems, a smart pen, or a mobile app that recognizes content written onto special paper. This above system is different in that any content applied to the paper will appear on the screen, even tracing performed with a finger.

It's easy to see potential applications for paper like this. Physical forms presented in a government office or health facility, for example, could benefit from such technology by having the information instantly and automatically digitized. The researchers also demonstrate applications like touch-sensitive paper tests, connected Post-it Notes, and more.