Vodafone Group R&D commissioned the Linz lab-atelier to come up with an interaction concept for their eInk-Newspaper Project Papyrus. The result is a context-sensitive device featuring a double-page eInk display that can be folded together. Navigation through the paper’s content dispenses with menu functions and other conventional user interface elements, and works on the basis of physical interaction metaphors we’re all familiar with from reading ink-on-paper dailies: turning the page, skipping to the next section, rotating an image (portrait/landscape format), swapping pages and articles with other readers, marking and describing, cutting out and archiving, folding up and putting away.
This e-Newspaper device is an attempt to design utilization characteristics and utilization scenarios of future cultural technologies in such a way that new cultural practices can establish themselves in conjunction with familiar media. The combination of the interaction concept with state-of-the-art eInk technology is a reaction to the inability of devices currently on the market to replace a centuries-old cultural technique with mini-PCs and multifunction cellphones. The concept developed by Vodafone Group R&D and the Ars Electronica Futurelab places the distinctive aspects of reading a newspaper at the focal point of the product and interaction design processes. The device’s high degree of context sensitivity is meant to afford the reader intuitive haptic interaction with the newspaper’s content and to shift the device itself as a physical artifact into the background. Thus, thanks to the double-page eInk display, all the reader needs to do to browse through the newspaper’s sections, pages and articles is to rotate the open eInk newspaper once on its vertical or horizontal axis. And all it takes to swap newspaper content is to stack the sending and receiving devices.
This concept also embodies the Ars Electronica Futurelab’s specific approach to the theory and practice of interaction design. Conceptualizing a human-computer interface doesn’t take the end points (device and user) as its starting point; rather, it begins with the aesthetic, substantive and functional dramaturgies that develop within the interaction. Thus the technological solution is a secondary consideration in the design of the interaction process, since the technological solution is actually derived from the demands placed by the content on the interaction, so that the content and the physical medium that transports it can be perceived as identical.
Vodafone Group R&D has presented the prototype concept for its “Papyrus” project developed jointly with the Ars Electronica Futurelab March 4-9 at CeBIT 2008 (Booth Vodafone D2, Future Zone).