There's a lot of consumer electronics news flooding out of CES in Las Vegas this week, but one of the more interesting technology stories we're seeing is trickling out of Ontario, Canada, where Queen's University researchers working with partners in the UK as well as at Intel Labs and Plastic Logic have developed a tablet computer that is both paper-thin and flexible. And while we've seen concept prototypes for flexible e-ink screens and the like previously, what's most intriguing about the so-called PaperTab is the user interface.
The idea behind PaperTab isn't to make your iPad flexible, but to rethink the way we use tablet computers--and to make them more like the actual pieces of paper we shuffle around our desks. Designed to work in clusters of up to ten tablets, the user can control various screens at once, with one or more PaperTabs for each app in use. So you can have several documents or apps running at once and work across several PaperTabs to execute tasks while moving things around between them. You can use several together to make a larger PaperTab display, or shuffle them around like you would actual paper documents. Touch two PaperTabs together and you can swap data between them (this is all far better explained in the video below).
Rather than relying on buttons or swipe gestures, PaperTabs respond to the flexing of the actual screen in certain ways--bend the right side of the display to page forward and the left side to page backward, for instance. And while it feels like this might be easier to master in theory than in practice, the folks in the video demo make it look pretty simple. But the point is, PaperTabs create a really interesting workflow--something like taking the various windows on your PC desktop and breaking them out on your physical desktop while retaining the ability to quickly move data and programs around from page to page. Figure out how to untether these things from those unsightly cords (they'll need a paper-thin, flexible battery) and this Queen's U. team might be onto something here--if not a consumer product just yet, at least a very cool interface idea.
"Figure out how to untether these things from those unsightly cords (they’ll need a paper-thin, flexible battery)...."
A paper-thin flexible battery is one option. Another would be inductive charging (if the desk includes an inductive charger, similar to the ones already marketed for cell phones, etc.) Yet another option would be beaming the power directly to the tablets (as Tesla proposed).
I want one.
Hmmm.. its a nice tech demo, but IMO it creates a LESS productive environment then the current PC.
IE. When I want to check an email I mouse to the email icon, click it, and then another click makes the reply, and I can then drag pictures into the email to attach them.
With paper tab. I have to have an "Email" paper tablet open on email, and then have to have a "blank" paper tab to "Tap" the email to brind a single email message onto that paper tab, I then "dog ear" the paper tab to reply, type using a what appears to be a very unresponsive paper tab keyboard, and then also have the picture I want to add already open in a paper tab, then pick up that tab and "Tap" it into my email message...
So.. to be this is "Cool" and all in a "Hey we can do this" kind of way.. but completely impractical in that:
A) I'm limited to using them at this special desk.
B) I'm limited by how many paper tabs I have (physical constraint).
C) Assuming they eventually get rid of the cords, this still represents an organizational mess as paper tabs "pile up" on the desk.
D) With "simple gestures" like "dog earing" and "tapping" I can only imagine the frustration of "accidental" dog earing as you are picking up the paper tab from the desk or accidental tapping as you put it down..
Again tho... nice tech demo.
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We will get to the point where you can wallpaper your house with this stuff. (cheaply) I think the applications are more decorative then work based.
shut up and take my money!
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Still inefficient, but freakin' cool nonetheless. I see we're inching toward that Microsoft 2019 video. Keep it comin' guys.
WOW, this is one of the best way i could get my work done . the papers on my desk . i am in love with paper tab .