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University of Tokyo turns real paper and ink into a display, could share doodles from a distance

Technology has brought us screens that looks like paper, but the University of Tokyo has invented paper that acts like a screen. Writing or doodling on this magic future paper is just like drawing on a touchscreen, letting your share your thoughts at a distance in an instant.

The division’s new research has budding artists draw on photochromic paper with Frixion’s heat-sensitive ink, turning the results into something a computer can manipulate. A laser ‘erases’ the ink to fix mistakes or add effects, and an ultraviolet projector overhead can copy any handiwork, fill in the gaps or print a new creation. The prototype is neither high resolution nor quick — you won’t be living out fantasies of a real-world A-Ha music video — but the laser’s accuracy (down to 0.0001 inches) has already led researchers to dream of paper-based, Google Docs-style collaboration where edits in one place affect a tangible document somewhere else.

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