The sound of print

If you believe the doomsayers, print is dead. But for UK-based company Novalia, which has just helped DJ Q-Bert release what it’s calling the world’s first interactive DJ decks on an album cover, its technology is bringing it back to life. 

Last year, Shine called on Novalia to help bring its Beck’s Playable Poster campaign to life for NZ Music Month (and, as an indication of the posters’ popularity, they were “disappearing like sausage rolls at a birthday party“). Novalia also created the poster for ‘The Sound of Taste‘ via Grey London and the Drum Poster (both were paired with a mobile device and connected to a sound system to generate the sound, whereas the Beck’s Playable Posters generated the sound themselves by reverberating). And, similarly, the Kickstarter-funded Extraterrestria album features a set of working Bluetooth MIDI decks and controls that connect to iOs and OSx. Touching the paper connects to the Algoriddim DJ app, which allows the user to scratch, mix and fade any songs they load into the software.

Novalia’s Dr Kate Stone says the decks demonstrate the possibilities for interconnectivity between the physical and digital in a way that can enhance user experience. And, with the increasing prevalence of technologies like NFC, it’s something many media owners are getting excited about. 

“We believe the future will look more like the past than the present, where beautiful old school things we love and are nostalgic about will not die as many have said,” she says. “We hope to breathe life into things like books and album covers, keeping the creativity in physical products alive. We work at the interface of the digital and physical, taking the essence of the digital world and putting that digital DNA into beautiful physical objects which have intuitive touch, connectivity and data beneath the surface and are manufactured by processes such as regular print.”

Novalia plans to sell an initial limited release of a MIDI piano keyboard, 4 x 7 array and drum pad, which are all compatible with Apple MIDI protocol. Music nerds can register their interest and see the tech in action here

There’s no doubt this fusion of old and new is pretty damn cool, but if you appreciate the old-school, then check out another playable poster. 

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