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Engineering Materials
Flexible Tablet Prototype Is Electronic Paper
1/22/2013

The PaperTab flexible tablet PC splits a tablet's windows into separate sheets of user-editable electronic paper that store a lot of data and communicate with one another. (Source: Human Media Lab, Queen's University)
The PaperTab flexible tablet PC splits a tablet's windows into separate sheets of user-editable electronic paper that store a lot of data and communicate with one another.
(Source: Human Media Lab, Queen's University)

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Elizabeth M
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I think I'm going to need a bigger desk
Elizabeth M   1/22/2013 6:35:09 AM
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If I'm understanding this right, it should relieve the "eye crunch" of having to look at and consume myriad information adn files on a tablet screen...is that correct, Ann? That would be cool, though I'm not sure what to do with all of that intelligent paper!

apresher
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Flexible Tablet Prototype
apresher   1/22/2013 8:24:53 AM
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Ann,  What is your take on the ability of a device like this to provide a good level of reliability? The idea is intriguing but it's difficult to foresee how it would handle the heavy stresses of daily use.

tekochip
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Wireless?
tekochip   1/22/2013 9:51:58 AM
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I really like this idea because it's intuitive and replicates what we are all used to doing.  The only downside I see is that the system is presently tethered with quite a few cables.  If they could reduce the system down to be wireless I think they would have a fantastic system.  Of course, it means we'll all be going back to having an overly cluttered desk.


TJ McDermott
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Re: Wireless?
TJ McDermott   1/22/2013 10:48:49 AM
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tekochip - 

Think of them as a single large sheet of paper (say, C or D sized) that you could unfold or unroll.  The individual sheets may still be connected via the cables, but they'd be unobtrusive, I would think.

Several science fiction authors (Robert Heinlein in "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" comes to mind first) describe such displays.  In Heinlein's the two characters "unroll a game board" to while away some time.

The future cannot get here soon enough!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: I think I'm going to need a bigger desk
Ann R. Thryft   1/22/2013 11:49:53 AM
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Elizabeth, this does not reduce the number of windows you have to look at for a given app and a given task. It makes it possible to lay them out like sheets of paper, each of which can access multiple windows. I suggest checking out the video--this is tough to describe in words.

Elizabeth M
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Re: I think I'm going to need a bigger desk
Elizabeth M   1/22/2013 1:09:54 PM
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Ah, OK, Ann, I will take your advice! It did seem like a difficult thing to describe but you did a very good job of it anyway. Still sounds quite intriguing; I am sure the video will answer my remaining questions.

Elizabeth M
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Re: I think I'm going to need a bigger desk
Elizabeth M   1/22/2013 1:32:52 PM
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OK, so I watched the video and this still seems rather complicated! Maybe it's just something you have to use to understand...still seems like there is a little bit too much of a "paper" trail for this to be practical...but that's just an opinion! It is just a prototype, after all, so perhaps it will be a bit more streamlined by the time it's ready for commercial release. Still quite interesting to see what's being hatched by clever minds!

NiteOwl_OvO
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Re: Flexible Tablet Prototype
NiteOwl_OvO   1/22/2013 3:06:25 PM
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I wonder if they would survive the dropped stapler test? It's an interesting technology. It looks like they've put quite a bit of thought into it. The ability to transfer data from one page to another by touching them together is cool. Unfortunately, I don't see these helping most people get their work done. I would like to see a Pen computer with a roll-up screen. Something about the size of a Sharpie with a touch screen that is semi-rigid when unrolled. Maybe someday soon.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Flexible Tablet Prototype
Ann R. Thryft   1/22/2013 4:03:23 PM
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Good question, Al. E-paper display technologies have been around for several years, at least in a prototype stage like this one. The flexible plastic display substrates and flexible plastic electronics are surprisingly sturdy, from what I saw years back when covering the subject. Some are being used now in flexible sports and health monitoring "watches", which sounds like at least some of these materials must be pretty rugged.

apresher
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Flexible Tablet Prototype
apresher   1/22/2013 4:06:09 PM
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Thanks, Ann.  The technology is definitely interesting but between the flexible tablet and connector interfaces, I guess I'm somewhat skeptical it will emerge given the competition already in the marketplace. Thanks.

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