Hacker Connect: Imagine a 'magically interactive' future

Dr. Kate Stone, founder of Novalia, is merging paper objects with the sense of touch

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NEW YORK — Imagine a run-of-the-mill notebook with a working keyboard, or a cardboard pizza delivery box that doubles as a DJ’s turntable, complete with volume nobs and sequencer buttons.

A 10-year-old Cambridge, United Kingdom-based company is creating just that by combining sophisticated technology with old-fashioned print and cardboard to develop touch-pad displays for the likes of Disney, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’ Donuts and other globally recognized brands.

Dr. Kate Stone, founder of Novalia, who spoke during Inman Connect New York’s Hacker Connect Monday, which also included speakers from Keller Williams, Opendoor, Zillow and others, believes the next generation of touch-sensitive tech will rely on paper and cardboard, instead of plastic and glass, and those who could benefit most from her imaginative products toil in the brokerage, development and architectural sectors.

“What we’re trying to do is add another sense to our spaces and places so that we add the sense of touch. Those spaces and places, they’re our homes, they’re our offices,” said Stone. “We’re all about adding the next sense to our spaces and we want to do that through touch.”

For the real estate industry, Stone imagines a world in which brokerage firms deploy interactive marketing brochures and futuristic signage, and architects work in tandem with developers to build digital walls and windows and other touch-sensitive surfaces.

“The destiny of the computer is to disappear,” said Stone. “I believe the future will be more like Mary Poppins and Harry Potter where everything around us is just magically interactive.”

Since launching a decade ago, Stone, who resides in Woodstock, has worked on projects for globally recognized brands like Bud Light, McDonald’s, Disney and Pizza Hut, for which she created an interactive pizza delivery box that could be unfolded into a working turntable. For Ikea, the company created a cardboard mailer in anticipation of the furniture store’s Memphis grand opening, which converted into a miniature popup of Beale Street, complete with music.

Get a full rundown of Hacker Connect highlights here.

Email Jotham Sederstrom