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CES: Papertab backed by Intel offers glimpse of future tablet innovations

08 Jan 2013

LAS VEGAS: One of the best things about the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is the chance to see exciting new, ground-breaking innovations that could lead to future, everyday technologies.

A project that caught the eye this year is Papertab, a fully interactive 10.7in plastic touchscreen display.

Developed by Plastic Logic, which has worked with Intel Labs and Queens University to develop the technology, the tablet is powered by a second generation Intel Core i5 processor and aims to replace the need for paper.

plastic logic flexible display

"Plastic Logic's flexible plastic displays are completely transformational in terms of product interaction," Intel research scientist Ryan Brotman said.

"They allow a natural human interaction with electronic paper, being lighter, thinner and more robust compared with today's standard glass-based displays."

The interesting thing about the Papertab isn't just that it can bend and flex while in use like a magazine and is robust against drops, but it also doesn't work in the same conventional way as standard glass-based display technology on the market today.

Instead of having several apps or windows on a single display, users would have 10 or more interactive displays or "paper tabs", one for every app in use.

For example, the Papertab's interface allows a user to send a photo simply by tapping one Papertab showing a draft email with another Papertab showing the photo.

The photo is then automatically attached to the draft email. The email is sent either by placing the Papertab in an out tray, or by bending the top corner of the display, a function that allows users to navigate through pages like a magazine, without needing to press a button.

A larger drawing or display surface can also be created by placing two or more Papertabs side by side. The flexible tablet then emulates the natural handling of multiple sheets of paper by combining thin-film display, thin-film input and computing technologies.

"Using several Papertabs makes it much easier to work with multiple documents," said the director of Queen's University's Human Media Lab, Roel Vertegaal.

The Papertab can file and display thousands of paper documents, replacing the need for a computer monitor and stacks of papers or printouts, keeping 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.

Plastic Logic believes its freshly developed flexible display will revolutionise the way people work with tablets and computers in the future.

"Within five to 10 years, most computers, from notebooks to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed colour paper," Vertegaal added.

Paper Logic maintained that other applications are currently being worked on together with partners so there will be more in store for us as it plans to showcase these in the coming months.

While at present the technology appears limited - it appears to require being plugged in at all times, based on the video above - with backing from the likes of Intel it could well grow in development in the future.

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Lee Bell

Lee joined as a reporter on The INQUIRER in April 2012.

Prior to working at The INQUIRER, Lee was sponsored by the NCTJ to do a multimedia journalism course in London. After completing placements at local magazines and newspapers in both print and online he wrote for an online gaming news website, and it was here where his love for technology grew.

Lee's main coverage areas include processors, internet security, PCs, laptops and tablet news and reviews.

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