Harry Potter’s magical moving photographs is now the future of paper—and this will be made possible by the University of Surrey.
Harry Potter’s magical world continues to enchant and charm many fans all over the world, even years after its final chapter came to a close. In fact, the Harry Potter universe that J.K. Rowling has built continues to thrive in many spin-offs and adaptations, from legitimate material such as the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series, which will reportedly span 19 years, to adorable fan creations as Harry Potterlipsticks and food.
We all have our own Harry Potter world favorites, too, like the infamous Butterbeer, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and even the Hogwarts castle—favorites that have transitioned from the Harry Potter canon to the real world.
But one of this writer’s favorite creations inside the Harry Potter universe is the phenomenon of moving photographs and paintings. And while it sounds legitimately magical, one particular professor in Surrey, England is actually trying to make this happen already—and he sounds very optimistic.
Get Surrey reports that Professor David Frohlich from the University of Surrey has been awarded £1.17 million in funding from the Digital Economy program to research and develop paper materials “that would allow readers to interact with printed materials like Harry Potter portraits.”
Surrey, you ask? Doesn’t that sound oddly familiar? Well, coincidentally, Surrey is actually often mentioned in the Harry Potter books and movies since Little Whinging, the fictitious place that is home to the Dursleys, is supposedly located in Surrey, England. Now, Surrey may as well be the new home to the birth of a new Harry Potter phenomena.
The Digital Economy grant that has awarded Professor David Frohlich the funding to research and develop the possibility of interactive papers is part of the Research Councils UK. The Digital Economy arm aims to “support research to rapidly realize the transformational impact of digital technologies on community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy.”
Professor Frohlich tells Get Surrey:
“We plan to give physical paper a whole new lease of digital life. Elements of interactive paper have been around in prototype form for some time, but we hope our research will help create a mass market next generation paper for the 21 century.”
Professor Frohlich calls this little Harry Potter project “next generation paper” and it aims to develop a new form of paper that could be enhanced with hyperlinks to the web. The premise is that readers will be able to obtain more information about the text or photographs on the page by turning a page or touching the surface of the page.
The interactive element of this paper works in a way that the documents could respond or interact with the reader, much like how people from the Harry Potter universe can interact with portraits.
Imagine a paper that’s a hybrid of print and digital information, allowing hyperlinks, animations, music, and other commands to play at the touch of a printed button. Professor Frohlich aims to make this happen by planting electronic sensors and chips on the paper itself so it reacts the same way a screen of a cellphone would to human touch. He explains:
“The project will create new business opportunities for the digital economy that we will research in parallel with the technology.
For example, publishers will be able to add value to print products and services by connecting them to digital material, while web companies will be able to use paper as a tangible interface to online information.”
Will Professor Frohlich succeed? We think and hope so. More than one million pounds for this kind of research is a very bold move for the Council, which means they can feel good results coming out of this Harry Potter-inspired project.
In 2016, we saw a Harry Potter-inspired photo album where images would alternate in a slideshow. There’s also an app, Radio Times reported, which lets you create your own moving newspaper, also in 2016—although it’s just a digital newspaper. Close enough!
How long do you think will it take the professor before finally succeeding in recreating these moving and interactive photographs? And what Harry Potter phenomenon are you next hoping for?
[Featured image by Warner Bros.]