CES 2013: Canadian researchers team up with Intel and Plastic Logic to create ‘paper tablet’
By Matt Hartley, National Post, January 7, 2013
More from Matt Hartley @thehartley
LAS VEGAS • Researchers at Queen’s University have helped to design a flexible paper computer which will be officially unveiled at the International CES here on Tuesday.
The device, known as the PaperTab tablet, was created as a joint project between the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University, Intel Labs and the United Kingdom technology firm Plastic Logic.
According to a release, the 10.7-inch PaperTab is designed to feel just like a sheet of paper, featuring an interactive, and flexible, high resolution touchscreen display.
While tablets today are designed to make use of several applications on a single display, the PaperTab is designed to work with multiple other PaperTabs, each running one application at a time. Users can operate 10 or more of the interactive displays, transferring information between the devices as a way of managing documents.
“Using several PaperTabs makes it much easier to work with multiple documents,” Roel Vertegaal, director of the Queen’s University Human Media Lab, said in a statement. “Within five to 10 years, most computers, from ultra-notebooks, to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed colour paper.”
Users would be able to transfer a photo between two PaperTab devices by tapping one of the PaperTabs to the other. The same could be used to attach a document from one PaperTab to another PaperTab that had an open email screen. Users can then send the email by either placing the PaperTab in a physical outbox or by bending the top corner of the display.
As well, two PaperTabs placed side by side would enable a user to view a larger picture stretched across both screens. According to a joint statement from the Queen’s researchers and Plastic Logic, the idea is that the PaperTab is designed to emulate the “natural handling of multiple sheets of paper.” For example, when reading a PDF documents, users would simply bend the corner of the device in order to turn the page.
Each PaperTab can store and display thousands of paper documents. The devices keep track of their location relative to one another, so that when one PaperTab is placed out of reaching distance, it displays a thumbnail view of its documents. When a user picks it up, it would launch a full screen view.
“We are actively exploring disruptive user experiences,” Ryan Brotman, a research scientist at Intel said in a statement. “The ‘PaperTab’ project, developed by the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University and Plastic Logic, demonstrates innovative interactions powered by Intel Core processors that could potentially delight tablet users in the future.”
Plastic Logic and the Queen’s University Human Media Lab will be on hand at CES in Las Vegas on Tuesday to officially unveil the PaperTab.