Postcard Player

A prototype to demonstrate how Paper Electronics could enable new interactions with Digital Media

Combining the analogue spirit of vinyl records and music cassettes with the tactile qualities of print production and the breadth of digital data and services, The Postcard Player is a prototype designed to demonstrate how Paper Electronics could enable people to listen to digital music, or interact with other digital data and services in a more engaging way.

As a work-in-progress the Player has been exhibited in many different forms and iterations, each time providing more information about how people engage with it and how it could be improved. It was not conceived as a solution to a problem, it's a prototype to open a discussion about how physical interactions can enrich our engagement with digital media

The Player works with postcards printed using conductive inks. When they are put in the player, people can press the buttons printed on them to hear a piece of music. The cards have no electronic components in them, when they are placed in the player they act like switches that tell it what tracks to play.

The Postcard Player was shortlisted and exhibited as part of the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year exhibition which annually showcases a peer reviewed selection of the worlds best design. It also won two awards at the Big Chip Awards - the Imagination Award and the Anthony Wilson Original Modern award, judged on this occasion by the longstanding chair of the judging panel Michael Nutley and given in honour of the late, Anthony Wilson.

Here’s Michael’s comments about the award:

“The entry I’ve chosen to win this award taps into a growing conversation about the relationship between the physical and the digital. It asks important questions about what we might have lost in the transition from physical artefacts to intangible data, about how we might interact with data beyond the keyboard or touchscreen, and about the importance of metadata such as lyric sheets, cover artwork and lists of musicians to how we appreciate music.

I love the winner’s simplicity and elegance. As a long-time print journalist and a vinyl junkie I love the physicality of the thing itself. But what I like most of all is that it’s a work-in-progress, and that what it’s really about is the continuing discussion of the interaction of humans and machines.”

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