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Swedes unfurl talking paper

Coming soon: the interactive Playboy centrefold?

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A team from Mid Sweden University have knocked together a "talking paper" billboard which uses conductive links and printed speakers to give forth when caressed, the BBC reports.

The chattering display - showing the tech's "possible use for marketing holiday destinations" - uses a layer of "digital paper" printed with said links. Hit the link, and a computer responds by offering up the appropriate sound file via speakers "formed from more layers of conductive inks that sit over an empty cavity to form a diaphragm".

Sandwich all that between "a thick sheet of extra-strong cardboard" and you're ready to slap your vociferous printed design on top. Lead boffin Mikael Gulliksson told the Beeb: "When you approach the billboard and put your hand on a postcard that shows a picture of a beach, you can hear a very brief description of that beach."

While this pilot project is big and expensive, the researchers are looking to scale down the technology. They're also looking for a plausible reason why they'd want to scale it down, and were able only to offer the possibility of talking cigarette packets.

Dr Gulliksson said: "One interesting idea would be to use it on cigarette packaging, so instead of having a written message warning you of danger to your health, you would have a spoken one. There could be a whole range of applications."

Well, the smokers among you can see where this cunning plan comes unstuck: addicts would simply remove the cancer sticks from the pack, set fire to it, and then travel to Mid Sweden University to make the research team eat the resulting ash.

A far better application, according to reader Simon Walke, would be an interactive life-size Playboy-style centrefold of Denise Richards, offering nimble-fingered geeks encouragement such as "Oh, yes, big boy, harder, harder..." as they run their trembling digits over her ample charms, later followed by "The Surgeon General warns that smoking causes [insert hideous ailment]" when they settle back for the post-orgasmic smoke. ®

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