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Hi-tech mission to bring adverts alive
Interactive portraits, as seen in the new Harry Potter film, could become reality if an Oxfordshire company's ideas come to fruition.
Electronics engineer Stephen Clemmet and electronmicroscopy expert Debbie Stokes have set up a company called Polymertronics, at Bloxham Mill, near Banbury, to develop and patent an idea for making luminescent advertising billboards.
Mr Clemmet said: "Street advertising is becoming all touchy-feely, to give the passer-by more of an experience, whether they're trying to sell Nike trainers or Quality Street."
Their technique uses nanotechnology, and they worked with sub-microscopic particles to allow electronics to be printed on to vinyl, plastics, glass or metal by ultra-violet curing. It means embedded lights or touch-sensitive interactive panels can be used to enhance poster advertising, without the eight-week lead time needed at the moment.
The company has raised £150,000 from a business angel and £75,000 from a research grant, thanks to Thames Valley Investment Network, a business angel investment network that specialises in helping growing companies to raise funding.
Mr Clemmet said: "Polymertronics products add a new dimension to the advertising industry.
"We can offer unparalleled interactivity and marketing opportunities that can be changed and reworked as quickly as printing technology allows - something that simply hasn't been possible before now.
"Given that there are more than 10,000 commercial printers worldwide, which produce over 780m square metres of advertising posters using the UV curing process every year, there's a huge potential market where our products can easily be retro-fitted and used."
The new investment will allow the company to develop semiconductor components with Reading University.
He said: "Once we have working products, then we'll be looking for further investment to get them to market in 2009."