Connecting a paper notepad to the Internet of Things


This notepad and pencil use conductive ink to control a Think With Google app.


London-based branding agency MultiAdaptor has designed a paper notepad and pencil that employs conductive ink to control an app for Google’s digital marketing business. The goal of the project was to raise awareness of Think With Google in the creative community by inspiring them to engage with the service’s content in unique fashion. And what better way to do this than by plugging a piece of paper into the Internet?

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In order to make the notepad, industrial designer Roland Ellis developed a special (and quite possibly the world’s first) conductive bookbinding glue that connects an Arduino-compatible board (which appears to be an ATmega32U4 based MaKey MaKey) to printed pages without having to use cables or any other parts. Conductive ink was screen-printed onto the paper, which is activated using a standard graphite pencil.

“The digital experience is also designed to reflect the Google brand — something simple and helpful, but playful and innovative, too,” the MultiAdaptor crew explains. “The audience is time-poor, so we made it faster to discover what’s relevant to them, by creating a bespoke ‘edit’ of content with a few ticks or clicks.”

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To get started, users plug the notepad into their desktop via a provided USB cable, visit the Think With Google website and check off two options from a list of statements using the pencil, such as “increase brand awareness” or “drive sales.” The interface focuses primarily on four different types of content: deck-ready stats, thought-leading articles, Google business tools and inspiring video content. From there, a user selects the platform that they want to leverage, which includes search, video, mobile and display. Content matching their selection is then shown in a dashboard titled My Edit. From there, users can share a link to their edit or virtually ‘rip’ off a page from the pad and create a new one. Aside from that, the dashboard can be accessed independently and the presentation-friendly interface can be employed in an office environments or at an event.

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So far, 1,000 notepads have been printed, assembled and in the process of being shipped to agencies throughout the UK and Italy. Intrigued? Head over to the project’s official page, or watch its overview video below.

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