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Muggle Magazines Catch Up With The Daily Prophet’s Moving Pictures

Once video killed the radio star, it went on to menace other media. On the Internet, magazines and newspapers have long been tarting themselves up to look like television with video clips and interactive features — but it’s nothing like the wizards’ newspaper of choice in the Harry Potter series, which has up-to-the-minute scoops and jazzy shifting front page photos (although they’re still in old-school black and white). Until now, there hasn’t been a real-life muggle equivalent of The Daily Prophet.

That’s about to change, and unsurprisingly, advertising is leading the way. Entertainment Weekly subscribers in New York and Los Angeles (sorry, heartland residents and newsstand purchasers) will find something extra in the September 18 edition of their magazine: A video promo for CBS’s fall line-up. A 2.7 millimeter-thick screen that’s a little over four inches square will display clips from various CBS fall shows when a reader turns to the page in which the player is embedded. However, even though presumably the magazine knows who you are (your address is on the label, after all), the video ad will not address you by name, the way those creepy Lexus and Guinness spots assailed Tom Cruise’s John Anderton in Minority Report as he strolled through the mall.

The company that developed the new technology, Americhip, reports that the video player can store up to 40 minutes of footage, and its battery — rechargeable with a mini-USB cable — lasts for over an hour. The company ran dry creatively, though, when it came time to name its new product: It’s called VIP, for Video in Print. Eh. Hopefully, future exploiters of this process won’t be tempted to include subliminal messages, although they probably could. Imagine if we donned 3D glasses to view the latest spiffy animated ad and were confronted with sinister (and somewhat contradictory) phrases like “Watch T.V.” and “Stay Asleep,” as George Nada is in They Live. Don’t get any ideas, CBS.

Still, to actually have your news delivered the Rita Skeeter way, you’ll have to wait just a bit longer. A group of scientists at the Cavendish Laboratory, part of the University of Cambridge, expects to introduce a flexible electronic screen for e-readers early in 2010. At least initially, it will have The Daily Prophet‘s drab palette and be without any fancy moving images, but it will survive being dropped (and maybe even folded). Martin Jackson, a vice president at Plastic Logic, which will produce the device, says “color is a year or two off, and video will be a few years later.” But the new e-reader will be easy to update wirelessly, which to our knowledge is still beyond even a powerful wizard like Voldemort. Score one for the muggles!

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