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Lunchtime talk write-up
Posted on Mon 23 May 2016


Paper Electronics – the ancient meets the old meets the new

Designer and educator Becca Rose joined us to share her approach to making a hybrid paper and digital book, called Bear Abouts.

Photo of Becca Rose'a Lunchtime Talk

Becca Rose

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Designer and educator Becca Rose joined us to share her approach to making a hybrid paper and digital book, called Bear Abouts. Here are five things I learned about layering up stories through paper, ink, circuits and screens:

1. Becca is passionate about the textures and smells of paper and ink. Her work explores how narrative can retain the tactile physical elements of books whilst also exploring the capabilities of emerging technologies to develop the reader’s physical interaction with the story. By offering an action on each page, such as a switch, Becca is giving the reader an active role to play and delivering a more immediate physical engagement.

2. Becca uses copper tape to add circuitry into her books. Paper sliders and tabs are used as switches and tiny LEDs can be soldered into the circuit. She integrates the copper circuits as part of the illustrations, and often uses the embedded electronics to play with light, shadows and sound to enhance the interactivity and magic of the story.

3. Whilst resident at MV Works and Makerversity (at Somerset House in London), Becca has been exploring how to connect paper circuits to a smartphone or tablet to develop the reader’s engagement with the narrative further in a digital space. She has been researching narrative structures to experiment with delivery of plot points across the digital and paper pages.

4. In Becca’s most recent project, Bear Abouts, she has removed all electronics and is using a tablet to deliver the narrative through moving animation. The user choses their journey through the story by selecting 2D paper objects, or ‘traces’, and placing them one at a time over the screen. The tablet’s camera reads a barcode on the paper trace, which then triggers the associated animation to play. The user choses their unique path through the plot by the order they select and ‘play’ the paper traces.

5. As Bear Abouts develops, Becca would like to create a version with blank paper traces for users to craft their own stories and adventures, physical and digital.