PlayPaper is an Imagination Labs project for Fieldguide at Mozilla Festival 2012, that explores connecting paper to the internet using Bare Conductive ink.

Following on from the pioneering work of PaperApps at South By South West earlier this year, PlayPaper demonstrates paper interactions as a physical web input method, turning touch into a digital, online representation. These two implementations are just examples of what can be achieved and are presented to spark new ideas for how exciting physical inputs can influence and create web content.

“Imagination Labs is an incredibly inspiring an inspiration space that co-exists as a lab between the hard-pressures of commercialisation and the need for us as humans to play. The work that balances a coherent demonstration of printed electronics technology with a simple well known paper-based game is simply wonderful. More like this please!”

DR JON ROGERS | Fieldguide and The University of Dundee

The Build

With 12 days notice, Imagination Labs were invited by Dr Jon Rogers to exhibit on the Fieldguide stand at Mozilla Festival. We had been looking for an excuse to build some paper electronics and this was a perfect opportunity.It was a unanimous decision to make a game. Paper is a component in many games – old and new. We aimed to create a game that explored a new interaction with paper. The physical game would exist alongside a website that timed the player’s progress and posted their time to a leader board.

The Bare Conductive Ink has two main sensory properties; resistance and capacitance. In practice, resistance allows for accurate readings across an area or length of line but it does require a ground connection, whereas capacitance does not require a ground but is much less accurate. It was while we were prototyping these two properties that a basic maze example was made;


The Hardware consists of an Arduino (to sense the capacitance) and a Raspberry Pi (to process the data and post it to the web). This was connected to the paper using a hacked bulldog clip inspired by Bare Conductive and Mike Shorter.

After the gameplay was tested and design refined (by @lemonmade) the wonderful Bare let us use their in-house screen to print some prototypes;



The final mazes were screen printed professionally by K2 Screen;


At Mozilla Festival

PlayPaper was exhibited on the Fieldguide stand at the entrance of Mozilla Festival. It was displayed alongside an ipad displaying the game’s live status and leader board. There was also blank maze sheets that allowed visitors to draw and play their own mazes.