IP3 Today - Editorial

Dear Member

The silicon chip has been plotting the downfall of the paper and print industry for some time now. It has long had a vision of a paperless office where electronic data flows seamlessly through computer networks. The e-book, with its huge memory and searching and indexing capabilities consigns the paperback to the history book. Printing presses lie dormant as the world and his uncle surf the web, downloading pdf brochures, video and e-zines.

Despite the chip’s best efforts, paper and the printer have flourished. Now, in a bizarre Hollywood blockbuster twist, paper and print look set to overthrow the chip. From what I can make out, the term is organic or printed electronics. In basic terms, you slap some metallic ink on a printing press and print out electronic circuits by the pallet load. You print it on cartonboard, you print it on a nice woodfree glossy paper. While you are at it, you print an antenna for the electronic circuit so it can send out radio waves of data to anything that wants to listen. You may even want to print a video display on the side of the packet so the electronic circuit can write its message big and bold. Everything you print has an electronic circuit on it. And printing these electronic circuits cost next to nothing – 0.1 pence. The technology improves and these circuits become more and more complicated until they can do anything a silicon chip can do – only cheaper.

The visionaries cannot come up with fantastical scenarios fast enough. The milk carton sends out a signal to the refrigerator complaining that it’s not cold enough. The movie poster beams out cinema locations and viewing times to passing mobile phones. The display on the side of a pill bottle turns red when the expiry date is reached. The goods in the shopping trolley beam out their price to the automatic cashier.

Soon these tough, flexible organic circuits make the silicon chip look brittle and dated and expensive. The silicon chip is consigned to the history book. It’s a hard backed history book but the electronic circuit on the cover allows you to download the text onto your mobile or laptop, should you wish to.

Duncan Place


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