Audio ads in newspapers?

Oh no, lets hope this little gimmick doesn’t catch on. Volkswagen has put out an advertisement in an Indian newspaper that plays an audio file when you unfold the paper. This appears to work much like those greeting cards that play a song when you open them. There’s a sensor that detects the newspaper opening, probably just a piece of plastic or paper that slides out from between two contacts. This allows power to the circuit and the audio file is played.  Can you imagine how obnoxious this could be? Especially if your newspaper was riddled with these and those E-paper screens.  Then again, that speaker looks like massive overkill for this kind of thing and might be a decent piece electronics to keep in the reuse bin. You can see a video of the newspaper after the break.


  1. MigSantiago says:

    They should add a Mute button… and make a smaller device :s

    If you guys ever get one of those audio devices, take it apart and show us how they work ;)

  2. Tom says:

    It’s like something out of the Futurama universe.

    It’s beginning!!

  3. mosheen says:

    Great idea. Like there isn’t enough electronic waste in landfills right now.

  4. Eric says:

    Just another reason to cancel your newspaper subscriptions (if you haven’t already).

  5. cpmike says:

    So that stupid thing starts talking on repeat as soon as the paper is folded flat? How are you supposed to read the rest of it without this thing bothering the entire room? IMO this particular ad was a BAD idea. Though it would definitely be something that made it into the parts bin…

  6. Peter says:

    That speaker doesnt look that bad for the size

  7. osgeld says:
  8. tropicwheels says:

    I bagged one of those. Would be nice if they used a standard chip so you could reprogram it to say what you want. You can’t get to whatever is under the (epoxy?) blob (or can you?). Still, free speaker WOOHOO.

    And yes, it was really annoying reading the newspaper. (Although, it was only the magazine section…but still, annoying while reading morning comics)

  9. Brennan says:

    Osgeld, do you live in Iowa by any chance? (Iowan here)

  10. osgeld says:


  11. space says:

    cellulose is piezoelectric.
    specially printed pages with flat step up transformer and flat battery could truly bring audio ads to the newspapers.

    a drop or two of salty water could block the ads

  12. Luke says:

    That reminds me of an electronic ad that Chevron used for a while. When you’d start pumping gas this sign above the pump would start talking to you about gas cards, credit cards, and stuff that was on sale. Needless to say I stopped buying gas there.

  13. HARaaM says:

    But . . can it listen?

  14. smoked says:

    “There’s a sensor that detects the newspaper opening, probably just a piece of plastic or paper that slides out from between two contacts”

    No, its much more advanced. Its an LDR! lol ;)

    (Yes, I get this newspaper)

  15. But…. Will it blend?

    Sorry couldn’t resist.

  16. Smokingman says:

    Wait…..What’s a newspaper?

  17. svofski says:

    @Smokingman: some people subscribe to toilet paper. It comes with print then.

  18. Rollyn01 says:


    I just buy the Sunday edition for the coupons. At least I get some kind of value out of it.


    IIRC the shack carries a kit for 2 or 3 buck with the voice recording. You can get your own without having to deal with the b.s. that is printed toilet paper. lol

  19. jeditalian says:

    good thing i always run over my newspaper before i read it. not long now until we see the news story about the person who swapped out the speaker for some C4, well more likely about the person who was going to read the newspaper and then “lost face”

  20. jeditalian says:

    what’s wrong with paper? i was thinking about signing up for loads of junk mail and saving it up lol recycle it, build a house out of junkmail or something. too bad the spam from my inbox isn’t physical junkmail because i would build a mothafuckin island and a boat and a castle and a great wall..

  21. signal7 says:

    Despite what the other comments have said, I’m amazed that no one complains about websites doing the same exact thing! We’ve been living with this nuisance for years now, but there’s an uprising when it takes physical form? Fer crying out loud, we should have been sending the message that this crap is annoying for the last 10 years!

  22. vonskippy says:


    It’s called Firefox with Adblock plus and noscript – might want to look into it.

  23. sexiewasd says:

    How will this affect my dog when he is peeing on it?

  24. Branno says:


    I think the reason people are annoyed that the newspaper did it and don’t care about web ads is that they paid for the newspaper, but not to view the online content.

    It’s also easier to mute your computer speakers :)

  25. Travis says:

    What about the papers that do not sell ? The units kind of go to waste.

  26. Whatnot says:

    It’s just a one-time gimmick, nothing to worry about.

  27. Ego Viator says:

    Here in Canada, just the other day on the way back home, I picked up one of those free newspapers and guess what… Audio ads. I manage to scare my dog and entertain my kid for the entire evening.

  28. jaded says:

    Despite the slams here, I think it was damn effective advertising. They got READERS to video the thing and post it on the web, and here I am halfway around the globe, watching their commercial. That’s viral marketing at its finest (from a marketing point of view, of course.)

    But I’m still not buying a Volkswagen. If I can ever convince myself to give up my utilitarian pickup truck, the next stop is the BMW dealership.

  29. sanjeev says:

    I also collected 3 of those. Plan to use them for s a project. These have a LDR so when light falls on the LDR the sound starts playing. If you close the newspaper again, the LDR goes in dark and sound stops. Cool idea but very bad for environment. Millions of these devices will be in bin in next few days.

  30. Anuj says:

    It was a simple light detector, and 2 cells powering the circuit, but a pretty nice and effective way for marketing.Had opened the newspaper and torn this thing out to examine what it was.

  31. too bad its the unknown “black spot” chip…

  32. PocketBrain says:

    Don’t forget, you get two button-cell batteries and their holders for your next micro-power project.

    Also, I have never seen more people complain about getting something for free.

    And the unit price of newspapers is heavily supplemented with advertising. The price you pay is a token amount that discourages you getting multiple subscriptions and, say, building a house out of them.

  33. projectbluebook says:

    yes this is very wasteful, wish they had used a re-recordable chip and then at least people could recycle them as message recorders or something..

    on the flip side, free button cells, speakers and other goodies.
    I did wonder why they don’t just use a piezo speaker and a microphone to “feed back” the audio and fine tune the output for the speaker being used so it also doubles as a recorder after N playbacks.

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