On one hand, you have coloring books, for your mindless moments of Zen. On the other, you have a pile of wires, batteries, and buttons, all of the maker-style code crafts.
What if you could merge the two?
That’s the vision of Papier Machine, a new, working concept by Raphaël Pluvinage and Marion Pinaffo. The machine looks a lot like an adult coloring book, but it’s actually filled with paper circuits–or what are essentially sheets of paper that have been screen printed (like T-shirts!) with conductive ink. By cutting, rubbing, and yes, even coloring, you can create all sorts of tiny, interactive paper crafts: Basketball hoops that light up when you shoot a tinfoil ball, guitar-synths that you play with a battery, and all sorts of weird stuff I honestly don’t even know how to categorize.
“Papier Machine is not exactly a pedagogical toy. You don’t play Papier Machine to learn electronics. You play with it because it’s fun, or fascinates you. You don’t even need to understand it,” says Pluvinage. “And then, if you become curious, you can start looking at the circuit, analyzing, and understanding it. So I guess we want to fascinate people and make them curious with these toys.”
Each of the 13 sheets of paper has a distinct sensor at its core, including a wind sensing page, a gyroscope (tilt sensing) page, and a color sensing page. There’s even a page in which you can connect circuits by drawing in pencil, given that a pencil’s graphite is slightly conductive. But there’s never anything as intimidating as soldering or programming. Much like Sony’s recent Toio kit, Papier Machine’s interface is as much about crafting as it is science.
In theory, a commercial version of the concept might give you some direction as to how to play with the Papier Machine, but ultimately, you’d have to decide how you combine these pages, much like the possibilities of a pile of construction paper are bounded only by your imagination. “One big advantage of paper [circuits], is that you can color them, cut them, and customized them if you want,” says Pluvinage. “Maybe in a second version, we will give more space to this idea.”
I’m really rooting to see that second version: a more commercially focused product, ready for mass production, that would debut on, according to Pluvinage. If you are, too, you can sign up on the Papier Machine page to get updates as they come.