A book that speaks volumes

A picture is worth a thousand words – but how about pictures that actually speak to you and tell real stories? The T-book combines high quality printed photographs with embedded printed loud speakers. When a reader turns a page, the loudspeaker turns on and tells a story, providing rich and engaging background information about the image’s origin and meaning.

A picture is worth a thousand words – but how about pictures that actually speak to you and tell real stories? The book accompanying the World Press Photo Award 2015, called the T-book, is such a book: It combines high quality printed photographs with embedded loud speakers. When a reader turns a page, the loudspeaker turns on and tells a story, providing rich and engaging background information about the image’s origin and meaning. The sound files also incorporate the voice of the photographer and at times the voices of people who witnessed the scene, providing a deep emotional experience that was previously impossible.

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To produce the unique book, the agency Serviceplan Campaign contacted a research team around Prof. Arved Hübler at the Technical University in Chemnitz, Germany, who had worked on this technology for the last seven years. Hübler had already presented its printed loudspeakers at drupa 2012 but at that time, nobody seemed to be ready to employ this innovative technology.

Thus, Hübler waited for the ideal project to integrate printed pictures and sounds while perfecting the technology and working on other projects such as printed solar cells. The World Press Photo Award Book 2015 seemed like the perfect candidate to present the technological breakthrough that has the potential – excuse the pun – to open a whole new chapter in book publishing.

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The innovative printing process involves printing electronic components onto flexible substrates. The pages consist of two parts and the ultrathin loudspeaker is embedded between the two parts. An SD card in the book cover conveys the data to the speaker. A printed sensor indicates which page the viewer is opening so that the correct sound file can be played.

Hübler believes this technology will be widely adopted in the future. He even envisions tablets printed on paper. Since the printing technology is less expensive that manufacturing conventional electronics, this scenario seems at least in part realistic. And until then, the “T-book”-technology may catch on, showing not only important images but taking viewers on a journey.

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