Light as Paper
This invention definitely falls under the “too cool for me to even guess at its most effective applications” category, but according to Design Envy, researchers from HP, UC Santa Cruz, and 3M have created a paper that allows any 2D object printed on it to react to light in the same way that object would in real, 3D space. Basically, that means you can shine a light on the paper and watch it interplay over the printed object’s surface as if it physically existed.
Obviously, somebody in advertising might jump on this just for the wow factor, but this could be an example of how to make printed materials a lot more relevant again. Innovations such as this one could revolutionize printed books and, in a world where even Newsweek is about to throw in the towel on print, help publications find their way alongside digital.