Engineers at Purdue University developed a keyboard out of an ordinary sheet of paper. A simple piece of paper converts into a self-powered, wireless keyboard. The scientists hope to use the new technology to transform sheets of paper into a complex music player interface. They also want to create food packaging which can interact with the consumer.

Gizmodo’s Victoria Song details how engineers managed to do this. A sheet of paper with a typical alphabetical keyboard coated with a green omniphobic solution.

One may wonder what an omniphobic solution means. Omni means all and phobic means repelling. So the Omniphobic solution repels just about everything-dust, water, oil, etc.

Self Powered

The solution dries, and the engineers print the circuit layers over the page. The starting material for layers is Triboelectric materials.

Triboelectric materials are just like photoelectric substances. When light falls on photoelectric substances, it produces electricity. When friction is applied to triboelectric substances, it produces electricity.

Pressing a key produces friction and, in turn, creates energy. The paper-based keyboard does not even need external power.

Ramses Martinez, an assistant professor at Purdue’s School, spoke to He explained how technology is useful for smart packing. The technology is compatible with conventional large-scale printing processes.

Varied Uses

This technology will help user interaction with the food packaging to ensure if the food is fresh. It can also enable users to correctly identify themselves as the package owner by dragging their finger over the package.

Martinez also revealed that engineers had perfected a music player interface. They used simple paper sheets from a notebook. Users can choose songs, play them, and change the volume with their fingertips.

So, the next time you crush a piece of paper and throw it into the trash can, think twice. You could very well be tossing out an essential piece of technology.


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