Users can take paper sheets from a notebook and turn them into a music player interface or make food packaging interactive.


A simple printing process was developed that renders any paper or cardboard packaging into a keyboard, keypad, or other easy-to-use human-machine interface. The process makes the paper repellent to water, oil, and dust by coating it with highly fluorinated molecules. This omniphobic coating allows the printing of multiple layers of circuits onto paper without the ink smearing from one layer to the next one. The innovation facilitates the fabrication of vertical pressure sensors that do not require any external battery, since they harvest the energy from their contact with the user. The technology is compatible with conventional large-scale printing processes and could easily be implemented to rapidly convert conventional cardboard packaging or paper into smart packaging or a smart human-machine interface.


Purdue University, College of Engineering, West Lafayette, IN


The technology could enable the user to interact with food packaging to verify if the food is safe to be consumed. It also could let users sign for a package that arrives at home by dragging their finger over the box to properly identify themselves as the owner of the package. Simple paper sheets from a notebook can be transformed into music player interfaces for users to choose songs, play them, and change the volume.


The team has patented some of the technologies related to robots and other design innovations. They are currently looking for licensing partners.