According to the Human Media Lab website, the PaperTab "emulates the natural handling of multiple sheets of paper by combining thin-film display, thin-film input and computing technologies through intuitive interaction design." PaperTabs "keep track of their location relative to each other" and their user. That seems like some kind of proximity sensor, as does the description of distance determining a PaperTab's active (full window) or inactive (icon) status.
"The location of each PaperTab is tracked on a desk using an electromagnetic tracker," according to the narration on the video. That's an interesting idea. Locational electromagnetic tracking systems are used in military applications and computer-assisted surgery, as well as kinematic research, such as motion tracking. I still don't get how the data moves from one PaperTab to another, and the consortium is not saying. What's hidden in the video is where users plug in all the PaperTabs under the desk. Perthaps that's some kind of communication and/or processing hub.
The PaperTabs can file and display thousands of paper documents, and the displays use E-ink, so they use very low power. The version used in the demos has a 150ppi screen pixel density displaying 16 levels of grays.
I am impressed by the work Plastic Logic is doing. I just wish it would find a manufacturing partner, so we can start using this totally cool, nifty technology sooner rather than later.
Good point, Scott. The mouse itself was a huge step in the direction of making computers accessible to non-engineers, as well as widening their use for everyone. This could be seen as another paradigm breaker in user interfaces.
bobjengr, glad you enjoyed seeing this. I totally agree about moving items from one tab to another being the coolest part--and the hardest to explain. So far, this is described as a concept and a prototype, and neither the company--or Queen's U--has indicated that they intend to develop it commercially. But I hope they do.
This does seem like a cool step in this technology. It certainly employs a unique interface for common tasks. I'm reminded of all the developments that have evolved from keyboard, to mouse, to touch-screen for "conventional" computers. This form factor has created a whole new level of potential user interactions which will likely develop as the technology does. Very interesting - thanks for the article and the video.
Ann--this is definitely the coolest technology I have seen this month. I did go to the web site to take a look at the video. The most remarkable feature, in my opinion, is the ability to drag and drop from one tab to another. Another great feature is touching a document or picture to create an attachment. I did not see any indication from the text in the web site as to when the product might become commercially available but I would suspect it will be a hit when launched. Great post
I'm sure it's just a prototype to show the possibilities with a finished product being wireless. I really love interfaces that mimic the way we currently work, but doing it with new technology and this is an excellent example.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.