Want to play a song on your smartphone? Bend it like (Victoria) Beckham
Interactive “paper computers” could change the way tablets and mobile phones are designed within five years, according to researchers.
The technology is based on a flexible E Ink display which can be programmed to react in different ways when the screen is flexed.
In the concept model – dubbed the PaperPhone – academics from Canada’s Queen’s University navigated the menus by flexing the corner of the 3.7in page and selected apps and songs stored on the phone by bending the page in a different direction.
“Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years,” claimed Roel Vertegaal, the director of Queen’s University Human Media Lab. “This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper.
“PaperPhone features an array of thin film bend sensors on the back of the display that trigger software actions on the device. Our prototype was designed to allow users to build their own bend gesture vocabulary, allowing us to study their preferences for mapping specific bend gestures to specific actions on the flexible display.”
The demonstration model looked clunky to operate using the bending technique and is not as intuitive as a touchscreen, but the fact that it works on the thin, flexible display could appeal to manufacturers from a variety of fields.
“In an office, everything can be stored digitally and you can place these computers on top of each other just like a stack of paper, or throw them around the desk,” said Vertegaal.
However, the scientists said they expected the technology to appear in smartphones first, because initial technical limitations would prevent larger screen sizes and the electrophoretic displays used no power when they are idle, which would help prolong smartphone battery life.