This Super-Clean Smart Screen Puts a Newspaper on Your Wall

Amazing DIY engineering project — a wall-mounted digital newspaper display you could make yourself

An example of great self-made products by engineers, this wall-mounted digital newspaper display might be worth your time and effort.

Created by a Robotics and Machine Learning engineer at Google X, Max Braun, it is called “Paper”. The build is relatively simple and looks great.

 

Smart screen newspaper

 

In an article he wrote, Max Braun takes the reader through the process and explains his choice of materials.

“I wanted to preserve this analog feeling and infuse it with the possibilities of smart home technology. That’s why I made Paper, a radically simple prototype that does exactly one thing: show today’s front page on a large e-paper display”, Braun said.

Paper automatically downloads the latest front-page PDF of a paper, converts it to the correct image format, and sends it to the display. All in time for Braun to read it while getting ready for the day.

The “analog pleasure”

There’s something special about the layout of a print-edition newspaper. A news website has infinite vertical scrolling space, but a printed front page is fixed to the same size every day. This constraint creates a very particular aesthetic and — if done well — a sense of typographic balance.

Braun wanted to preserve this analog feeling and infuse it with the possibilities of smart home technology. That’s why he made Paper, a radically simple prototype that does exactly one thing: show today’s front page on a large e-paper display.

Calm technology

Sometimes no user interface is the best user interface. This project, even more so than Accent previously, was created in the tradition of calm technology.

Paper easily blends into the background, because its screen doesn’t emit any light and the content changes quietly when no one is looking.

The display is wall-mounted at eye height, and the nightly front-page update happens automatically, so the only user interaction is simply standing there and looking at it.

Braun has been using different versions of the prototype for about two and a half years now, and he usually reads it while getting ready in the morning. “It definitely and literally passes the toothbrush test for me”, he said.

     

    “Sometimes, no user interface is the best user interface.”

 

The software

The software is very basic in principle: each day, in the earliest morning hours, New York time, Paper downloads the latest front-page PDF, converts it to the correct image format, and sends it to the display.

The V5 system board has Wi-Fi and runs an embedded Linux, so I ended up using a combination of Bash, Python, and cross-compiled C to make things work. E Ink’s NDA prevents me from sharing the source code, but you get the idea.

To create the frame, Braun first built a mold from acrylic. It was held together by screws, so he could easily open it once the concrete dried. He used Portland cement and mixed in some titanium dioxide to achieve a lighter shade of gray. I also embedded a wire mesh inside to prevent the frame from breaking apart.

The system board, Wi-Fi antenna, and power adapter fit into the middle of the frame and are attached to the display through a supporting acrylic sheet.

Google Home Max (famously named after him) had to donate its beautifully designed power cord.

Mix concrete. Pour mold. Let dry. Cut wires. Put it all together.

Want to make your own? Then follow the instruction Braun has shared in this article.


 

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