Papertab - a flexible tablet

Written by T.A.K.. Posted in Tech

A revolution in tablet computing; for many years there has been talk of the possibility of a flexible/foldable tablet and its all just been hot air from 'futurologists' that is, until now.

A collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs has yielded a working flexible paper computer which was developed at Queen’s University in Canada with graduate students Aneesh Tarun and Peng Wang as its current architects.

Looking and feeling very much like a sheet of paper the fully interactive flexible tablet boasts a 10.7 inch plastic display with touchscreen which is powered by a second generation Intel core i5 processor.

The papertab is designed to be used several pages at a time with each page running its own app instead of running multiple apps or windows on just one display

“Using several PaperTabs makes it much easier to work with multiple documents,” says Roel Vertegaal, Director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University. “Within five to ten years, most computers, from ultra-notebooks to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed color paper.”

The lightweight and robust design allows the tablet to be easily tossed around on a desk while providing a magazine-like reading experience. This is further enhanced by bending one side of the display, where users can then also navigate through pages like a magazine, without needing to press a button.

The Papertab also has many features including the ability to allow a user to send a photo simply by tapping one Papertab showing a draft email with another Papertab showing the photo. Similarly, a larger drawing or display surface can be created simply by placing two or more Papertabs side by side. Thus emulating the natural handling of multiple sheets of paper.

In addition the tablet can file and display thousands of paper documents, keep track of their location relative to each other, and the user, providing a seamless experience across all apps, as if they were physical computer windows. E.g. when out of reach it will revert to a thumbnail view of a document and switch back to full screen when touched.

Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? Well here are some of the drawbacks as we see them now; the lack of a colour display and the fact that the actual paper tablet needs to be tethered to the processor and needs to be plugged in to work, which is not surprising seeing as there are parts that by their nature can't be flexible. These are but minor issues though and don't take away our desire to own one!

Find out more about Plastic Logic and its robust, flexible displays here.

Visit the Queens University Human Media Lab here.

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