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Paper-thin computer debuts at CES

posted 11 Jan 2013, 02:23 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Jan 2013, 02:23 ]

Plastic Logic's "PaperTab" spurs the imagination with first paper computer tablet.

LAS VEGASNEVADAUNITED STATES (JANUARY 09) (REUTERS) -  Imagine a computer paper-thin and flexible, with the ability to interface with other sheets of electronic "papers" on your desk with just a bend of a page or a tap of a corner.

That sci-fi vision is close to a reality...and one that is making it's debut at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Plastic Logic, unveiled this week a prototype of its, "PaperTab" tablet, with the goal of changing the paradigm behind the way we use computers.

The company, which specializes is polymer transistors and plastic electronics, has teamed up with Ontario's Queen's University research team in creating the futuristic paper.

"What we are really trying to show is a desk top scenario where you have multiple displays on the desktop, where you will be able to transfer the information between the displays using different interfaces, different sensor technology," explained Mike Banach, a research manager at the company.

The PaperTab tablet looks and feels like a plastic sheet of paper. The tablet, though, is fully interactive with a flexible, high-resolution plastic display, a flexible touch screen, and powered by an Intel Processor.

The game changing idea behind the technology is that it streamlines the effort when working with multiple documents, by emulating the natural use of multiple sheets of paper, thus, allowing users to have ten or more interactive displays or "PaperTabs" in play, instead of working off of a single display.

PaperTab can file and display thousands of paper documents, replacing the need for a computer monitor and stacks of papers or printouts. Unlike traditional tablets, PaperTabs keep track of their location relative to each other, and the user, providing a seamless experience across all apps, as if they were physical computer windows.

Aneesh Tarun, one of the researchers on the project at Queen's University, explained the simplicity behind it.

"To give you an example, take a look here," said Tarun, in offering up a demonstration.

"I have my e-mail inbox here and I want to be able to read my e-mail while also wanting to keep an eye out for new e-mails. I can do that by simply taking this piece of paper and tapping it and picking up the e-mail that I just got. Now, I want to reply to this person by sending them a photo. First, I just bend to reply and then I pick up the photo that I have and I just tap it here and it gets attached. Now, I just bend it and the e-mail gets sent. It is as simple as that."

Further, when a PaperTab is placed outside of reaching distance it reverts to a thumbnail overview of a document, just like icons on a computer desktop. When picked up or touched a PaperTab switches back to a full screen page view, just like opening a window on a computer.

PaperTabs can easily be tossed around on a desk while providing a magazine-like reading experience. By bending one side of the display, users can also navigate through pages like a magazine, without needing to press a button.

And they are re-usable.

Before everyone gets too excited, Plastic Logic believes the technology behind electronic paper is still 5 to 10 years away from finding its way into most computers and tablets.