Harry Potter-style animated photos are closer than you might think. A U.K. company is working on technology that prints electronic circuits onto incredibly thin layers of plastic—so thin, they can be attached to paper and you’d hardly notice they were there.
The team at PragmatIC have got together with a greeting card company to put their technology to work.
Right now that means simple flashing lights and animations of messages like “Happy Birthday!” but in the future, the ideas could be put to use making animated images on paper, just like you see in the Harry Potter movies.
PragmatIC CEO Scott White told Techland, “You can already get greetings cards with flashing lights on them, but they’re expensive and bulky. As soon as you pull them out of the envelope, you can feel the tell-tale bulge of electronics inside. Our system is printed straight on to the card itself. It looks, feels and bends like a normal card.”
So why hasn’t it reached the animated photograph stage yet?
“The technology isn’t as mature as making electronic circuits in silicon, which has been going for 50 years. We’re still at the early stages,” said White.
But it’s a possible future for this kind of technology?
“Oh, definitely,” said White. “All the technology to achieve that already exists. There’s e-ink, which is what they use inside Kindles. There’s the drive electronics, which is what we make. And it’s possible to print batteries. It’s possible, but some way off yet.”
In the meantime, PragmatIC is busy doing deals, seeking out paper and card products that could do with an interactive boost. Don’t be surprised if your cereal packet starts flashing jokes at you some time soon.