Preston News prototype

Imagine a newspaper that talks back to you. A newspaper, on actual paper, that allows you to 'broadcast' content back to the publisher. A newspaper unlike any newspaper that has ever existed. Paul Egglestone from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) presented an early prototype of just such a newspaper at the BBC Connecting Communities conference in Salford today.

The concept utilises digital ink. As one commenter on Twitter said, "It's mind-blowing." It was also possibly the most exciting concept presented at this one-day conference.

An ordinary looking newspaper with swipeable audio content, connected to a wifi network. It might sound like Paul is trying to reinvent the iPad, but he insists there's far more to this than a dead tree iPad wannabe.

"This is not an iPad. Clearly, it's not an iPad," Egglestone explained. "The big difference is an iPad costs three, four hundred pounds. This is going to be pennies to produce in the long term... It won't do all the stuff that iPads are doing. It's not an iPad, it's something else. It's a different platform that we hope communities (may choose to) build businesses around."

Listen to Egglestone explain the workings of this prototype (below) and the possibilities he sees for later iterations of it in the future.

I can see how such a concept might well work with geolocation services and the Newspaper Club print-on-demand service. If Egglestone and his UCLAN team are to be believed - the future's bright, the future's print.

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