Life Imitates Hunger Games: A Glowing Report
In The Hunger Games books, people in the capital city of the dystopian nation of Panem are wowed by celebrity contestants whose garments glow, blink and pulsate like embers in a fire. As reported in PCWorld this week, we may be moving one step closer to making that technology a reality, with its first application in the world of printed paper.
Scientists in Sweden have developed a way to grow flexible LED lights on paper coated with a conductive polymer, and are pursuing adapting the technology to other materials. Researchers create nanothreads of zinc oxide on paper, which contain electrons that give off energy in the form of light. These nanothreads can then be blown off as a powder. The powder can be used to print the nanothreads on paper and plastic with a regular printing press (we're not making this up).
PCWorld notes the technology could have application in signs, packaging, clothing, decor and consumer electronics. One thing unmentioned is the potential for magazines; imagine cover art that literally shines, cool editorial graphics and advertisers paying a premium for lit-up ads.
We wondered whether magazine editors and publishers would jump at the chance to incorporate this new technology—and who better to ask than Esquire Editor David Granger? Granger rocked the publishing world in 2008 with the world's first e-ink magazine cover and has since continued to push the boundaries of print with fold-out windows, mix-and-match cover images, augmented reality and other enhancements.
"It looks really intriguing," Granger said of the new technology, adding that the two most important questions for a publisher to ask are how quickly it can be made affordable for a mass-produced print product and how durable it is.
"The two barriers to widespread use whenever we play around with the nature of print are always expense and whether the technology can survive the printing and binding process," he said. "If those two hurdles can be gotten over, I'm ready to use it."
If the embedded lights are as cool as researchers describe—"Imagine a white luminous curtain waving in the breeze. Or wallpaper that lights up your room with perfect white light," begins a report—it would make Esquire's rigid, somewhat thick October 2008 cover look downright clunky. Who knows? We may soon be curling up with magazines that glow... though hopefully not as citizens of Panem.