McDonalds turns paper placemat into a DJ touchpad called McTrax

Connect your phone to paper.. why not?

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McDonalds are leveraging technology to draw in new customers. On April 22nd, McDonalds in the Netherlands offered customers a meal with a difference. The paper placemat provided with in-store trays is traditionally used for advertising McDonald products and promotions, but on this day, they got a musical surprise instead.

McTrax was a placemat created using a special printing method using conductive ink, the placemat created an electric circuit between areas on the placemat. Customers could connect their mobile phone to the placemat to control the McTrax work.

To get started, you’d start by downloading the dedicated music app for iOS, helped by McDonalds in-store WiFI, now well established around the globe. Once connected, to play the placemat, you can start with a default set of beats, then layer on your own custom sounds and vocals (using the microphone in your phone) but tweaking your music gets easy with an effects option.

Clearly the cost to print using this conductive ink is far more expensive than regular ink, so this isn’t new placemat-tech you’re going to see become standard. Is it a marketing ploy, sure, but is it a creating use of tech that opens the minds of everyday people to the possibilities, absolutely.

Leveraging technology is starting to become a trend at the fast food restaurant, with McDonald Sweeden recently offering Happy Meal boxes that also doubled as a VR headset. The Google Cardboard was again another marketing effort with the big M splashed all over it, but opening up the minds of kids to virtual reality early in their life, could indeed spark a passion from a young age.

Nice one Maccas.. if you want to get create in Australia, we’ll be happy to tell your story.

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The technology in the McTrax is developed by ThisPage from Amsterdam. The placemat is powered by a small battery and converts your taps into digital signals, fed into your phone with an integrated circuit board. This creative agency also has plenty of other interesting technology experiments, one of them being an experience called ‘run like a refugee‘ which places you on a treadmill and an Oculus Rift headset to be immersed in the challenge of being a refugee, well worth checking out.

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Watch the McTrax in action in a video McDonalds is calling ‘Play the Placemat’.

More information at ThisPage.

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Hardware