In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of available rapid prototyping tools, making it easier than ever to create functioning prototypes with minimal technical background and at a low cost. However, most of these tools do not have the flexibility to allow for immediate physical modifications once a prototype has been built or programmed, and are often limited in movement by the size or range of the wired system. Accordingly, simple paper remains one of the most pervasive creative platforms in the world due to its low cost, light weight, freedom of physical spatial manipulation, disposability, and low interaction overhead.
In this article we introduce “Animated Paper,” a new wireless prototyping platform which combines paper, shape memory alloy (SMA), retro-reflective material, and copper foil. This platform makes it possible to create moving toys out of ordinary print paper with minimal modification to the physical composition of the paper itself, facilitating simple trial-and-error modifications. We also introduce a laser control system which allows for precise, wireless motion control of the SMA-enhanced paper by tracking retro-reflective markers on the paper using a laser and photo sensor. Lastly, we present the results of a preliminary user study to demonstrate the usability of our prototype system and also provide possibilities for how to further develop our wirelessly controlled, moving paper platform.