The Little Printer with Touch

Disarmingly friendly connectivity - an interactive printer

Inspired by BERG’s ‘Little Printer’, this wall mountable print stream can be interacted with via touch. The colour printer prints 8x8cm squares onto a roll of heavy GSM paper, each square lines up with a touch panel on the wall behind it to allow for interactivity. It really adds a new meaning to the term ‘paper computer’.

Print your instagram feed as it arrives for a great looking wall hang - then tap on a photo to like it! Have weather reports give you the option to call a taxi. See a missed call on paper, and return the call with a press (using google voice). Each 8x8cm touch panel is split into two has a second, separate touch sensor on the bottom quarter. This allows the printer to print ‘buttons’, which can be pressed (see the example of calling an Uber taxi above.

Inspiration: I’ve always loved the feeling of powerful and smart objects in natural and unassuming guises. This project came out of five interviews conducted with owners of the Little Printer, four themes emerged.

1. Repurpose: A small form factor made it easy to change where it cold go and what it could do.
2. All-in-one: It was as easy to get a ‘word of the day’ as it was breaking news.
3. Paper: Novelty of paper made people more likely to interact, they liked being able to rip it off and take it with them.
4. Low commitment: It’s form factor is out of the way, it prints as little or as much as you need, and it just works.

How it works:
1. A desktop printer is mounted on a wall, and modified to accept continuous paper feed. The paper tray is removed and a flattened roll of high GSM paper is put in place.
2. A Mac Mini prints all new additions to a dropbox folder (so you can go back through your feed), which are preformed images created on an AWS server (so in future low end hardware could replace the Mac Mini).
3. In keeping with the paper theme, each pressure pad is fronted with a piece of thick cardboard. As the paper feeds down the wall, each square lines up with a sensor.
4. When pressed, a signal is passed to a small Arduino Uno, which relays the signal to the Mac Mini and depending on the content, executes an action using mail and web hooks. These are passed onto services such as IFTTT that have aggregated other API’s and fulfil the request.

Future work: The current printer is a repurposed desktop printer, switching to a small and inkless printer would make this a feasible product. The interactivity is currently handled by an Arduino Uno and a Mac Mini. Switching to a Raspberry Pi would keep the size and power consumption down.

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