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After iPhone, Here’s The PaperPhone


Article first published as After iPhone, Here’s The PaperPhone on Technorati.

If you thought that the iPhone was the game-changer, here’s something to prove you wrong.

A bunch of Canadian researchers have invented a a smartphone prototype which is paper-thin, flexible and has a low-powered e-ink touchscreen display (Amazon’s Kindle also uses an e-Ink display). The phone can be rolled up to fit into your pocket.

So, we won’t have broken glass on our phone anymore and no extra weight in our pockets.

The PaperPhone will be officially be unveiled at the Association of Computing Machinery’s CHI 2011 in Vancouver, Canada by Roel Vertegaal—an associate professor of Computer Science and director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Canada.

PaperPhone

In an exclusive interview, Vertegaal said,

“This is the future. Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years. The computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper. You interact with it by bending it into a cell phone, flipping the corner to turn pages, or writing on it with a pen. This is not a maybe. This is a definite. This is what your phone will look like.”

The prototype developed does absolutely everything a normal smartphone can do. It can store e-books, play music, make phone calls, etc. This futuristic phone is as thin as a credit card and is much more flexible than one! It has a 9.5 cm diagonal screen and is one-sixth the weight of Apple’s latest iteration of the iPhone. The smartphone is very robust (“You can hit it with a hammer,” Vertegaal says) and uses less electricity to charge itself.

Instead of pushing buttons, the user has to bend the phone to navigate. If the phone is bent on both sides, an application is opened up. If you dog-ear the top right corner, the next page will come up.

But, along with such next-gen features, there are a few problems, as well. While the flexible board circuit was used for the bendable input and power, the processor and other rigid electronics had to be attached via an external handle to the phone. The next factor is the price. The prototype alone costs about $7000-$10000 to produce.

But, Vertegaal says that price won’t be an issue in the next 10 years or so since the product will eventually go mainstream and cost of production will eventually decrease for a normal, middle-class consumer.

Along with the PaperPhone, Roel Vertegaal’s team has also invented a computer which can be worn on the wrist! It is called Snaplet and has a 3.7 inch flexible E-ink display. Like the PaperPhone, Snaplet has to be bent to navigate and use. Phone calls can also be made using Snaplet! Snaplet can be removed from the wrist band and curved. The call can be cut by snapping the Snaplet (that sounded weird) back into its original shape! A special pen can be used to write on Snaplet!

This invention marks a whole new era in the history of computing. Computers that are lightweight, flexible and that use absolutely no power when not being used is an idea a technological geek like me, could only think of in my dreams!

Apple’s Going Down!

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