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Talking newspapers invade Indian breakfast tables

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(Jochen Eckel/Bloomberg)

On Tuesday, thousands of Indians got a rather jarring surprise when they opened their morning newspaper: a voice started hawking a Volkswagen vehicle.

"The new Volkswagen Vento, crafted with so much care, it's hard to let it go," the voice said.

Some people thought a cellphone had landed in their paper. Others didn't know what to make of the interruption.

Welcome to Modern Media 2010. What people were hearing, in fact, was a small voice box embedded into the back page of the Indian newspapers Times of India and the Hindu. When readers opened the paper, the box was light-activated and the voice started talking about the new Volkswagen car. The voice would play on an endless loop until the reader shut the paper.

The voicebox alternately delighted readers and frightened them, according to Raja Murthy at the Asia Times. He reports that even the Mumbai police bomb squad reacted to the talking advertisement. They had to investigate suspicious noises coming from a trash can after a reader threw the paper away.

Volkswagen spent more than $1 million on the campaign, according to the Indian newspaper Economic Times.

The response seemed to be generally positive from the online community, but the idea of chattering newspapers frightens me. Even Harry Potter's moving newspaper photos had the sense to stay silent.

By Melissa Bell  | September 23, 2010; 6:06 PM ET
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Comments

This is a cool technology that, once it becomes cheap enough, might be applied in many ways. For example, I can imagine opening a package of medicine and having certain critical warnings and key information immediately announced. Although this might get embarrassing if you do so on the bus.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 24, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

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