Hyperlinks

blueBook’s pages are printed with both normal ink (for text) and conductive ink (for the hyperlinks). Conductive ink is normal ink mixed with electrically conductive particles, which allows for printing circuits and touch-sensitive buttons onto the paper. After evaluating several kinds of inks a silver-based ink was used both due its higher conductivity and aesthetic reasons.

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The chosen touch-sensitive switch concept is based on the principle that one’s finger may act as a bridge to close an open circuit printed with conductive ink. Sometimes, however, the resistance of the human skin is relatively high to let a useful amount of current flow through the circuit. To lower the skin’s relative high resistance even further, a parallel configuration pattern inspired from conventional touch-sensitive switches used in electronics is used.

For aesthetic reasons, but also in order to achieve a level of intuitiveness for the reader, such switch patterns were graphically adapted to communicate their individual functions. This particular aspect of this project is where the boundaries between electronics and traditional book design become unclear.

Electronics

There are two basic options for a Blinked book:

    Networked book; in this case all digital content to be accessed may be stored on the Web or any device in proximity (e.g. laptop, mobile). The book communicates wirelessly with such devices to obtain the desired output.

    Autonomous book; all digital data (in this case sounds or music) is stored on a chip on the book’s cover and is played back via headphones or speakers plugged onto the book’s spine.


    chip in book

    blueBook’s electronics consist of a Bluetooth module and a microprocessor which operate on two coin-shaped batteries. The electronics are placed inside the hardcover, which serves as a sleeve for protection and to keep them invisible. The user never comes in contact with these parts, keeping the user experience as close to holding, reading and browsing a regular book.

    The proposed conductive ink technology is also conveniently suitable for printing electronic components on thin flexible substrates (like paper) a technology that is currently on the forefront of electronics innovation. Recent advances in the Printed Electronics industry could even allow for printing of wireless antennas such as RFIDs, batteries and memory chips.

    Such advances will not only allow Blink technology to become invisible, but will also allow for a single printing process for both content, links and electronic components, significantly reducing cots and ultimately enabling Blinked paperbacks and magazines.

Printing & Bookbinding

The "links" are connected to the electronic circuit embedded in the cover via a novel and patented method that allows printing conductive ink traces along the book’s spine.

This allows for a printing and bookbinding process that is very simple, omits the need for cables and other plastic connections and conforms largely to existing publishing methods. In addition, it allows for an elegant design for digitally-enhanced paper books that look and feel like "regular" books.

stitches in book

Printing is performed in a two stage-process: first the normal content is ink-jet printed and then conductive ink is screen-printed on top as a new layer. This process can eventually be merged into a single stage offset printing for both types of inks. The individual pages are then bound together so that all conductive ink traces form continuous lines along the book’s spine to connect to the electronics in the back-cover. This process is patented.