Playable piano made entirely from paper can be played via your smartphone

21 December 2021, 12:33 | Updated: 21 December 2021, 17:29

A printable playable piano
A printable playable piano. Picture: Prelonic Technologies

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

An Austrian tech company has created a printable piano which requires no power, and can be played using your phone.

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What if you could print your next piano at home? Not with a 3D printer, but with a single sheet of paper?

That’s exactly what an Austrian-based tech company has proved is possible, with the development of its product, PIP (prelonic interactive paper).

Prelonic Technologies originally launched PIP in 2019. The product is a combination of printed paper media and an electronic device.

To demonstrate PIP’s capabilities, Prelonic Technologies recently posted a video on their website where they print out a nine-key piano and play a tune. Listen below.

Read more: This tiny pipe organ is made ONLY from paper and cardboard

The piano keys have been printed onto nothing more than a normal sheet of paper. However, it’s what’s underneath that matters.

The entire product is made up of two sheets of paper. One, which sits on top, is a print out of an eight-key piano, and is backed with layers of conductive carbon. The second sheet sits underneath the piano print out, and houses a printed circuit template.

An NFC chip is then added to the circuit in order to create the interface. NFC chips facilitate contactless communication between two digital devices, which in this case is between the paper piano, and a smartphone.

The paper piano is played through an accompanying app, which can be downloaded onto your smartphone. No power is required to use the paper piano, as the NFC chip draws power from the the phone’s antenna.

When a player taps on any of the printed piano’s keys, the corresponding note is played on the app and sounds through the mobile’s speakers.

Read more: Phone company OnePlus uses 17 smartphones to make a full concert piano

So, is this the future of music? Instruments that you can print out with your at-home office supplies?

Well, the video states that this playable piano is merely a simple showcase of what PIP can do. The demonstration video highlights that the paper – which is not yet available for sale – could also print games, learning aids, and interactive advertisements.

Dr Friedrich Eibensteiner, CEO of Prelonic Technologies, confirmed the piano’s origins, saying: “To demonstrate some capabilities we developed a simple application: the paper piano. It is a mainly printed hybrid device, which allows you to play on an 8-key piano music via your mobile phone.”

However, Dr Elbensteiner adds: “The potential of this technology is so huge, the number of ideas is growing very fast – faster than the realisation”, so we’re not ruling out the possibility of a future paper orchestra just yet...