Hang up the iPhone — here comes paper phone
Bending the flexible device will allow users to make calls and play music
Move over, iPhone; you soon could be replaced by the paper smartphone.
That’s the prediction from Prof. Roel Vertegaal, director of Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab, who will be presenting an interactive paper computer that duplicates many of the functions of an iPhone — from making calls to playing music to sharing books — at the Association of Computing Machinery’s CHI conference next week in Vancouver.
“ We expect all phones to be like this within five to 10 years,” said Vertegaal.
What he’s calling the world’s first paper phone has the look and feel of a small sheet of translucent paper.
Vertegaal likens its look and form to a flexible conference badge, but the prototype phone can carry out computer functions, from playing music to making calls.
“ The e ink screen is similar to what you find in the Kindle except this screen is flexible,” Vertegaal said of the 9.5-cm diagonal, thin-film flexible display screen that uses the technology found in ereaders like Amazon’s Kindle.
To make a call on the prototype phone, you squeeze the interactive paper, which has a layer that senses how it is being bent, and hold it to your ear.
“ Just curving the screen, it knows you want to make a phone call,” said Vertegaal.
He said the intent of the prototype is to demonstrate what can be done with the technology. “ This is very early days,” he said. “ This is, as far as I am aware, the first paper phone.”
The team that created the prototype included researchers from Arizona State University as well as from Queen’s, working with ASU’s Flexible Display Center and the E Ink Corp., a leading developer of electronic paper display technology.
The team’s presentation to the conference focuses on how the device’s functions can be controlled by bending the display in various ways.
Vertegaal said the prototype has limited functionality and it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to take the idea through commercialization.
The prototype offers a peek at a new generation of super-thin and flexible computers that are more like paper than clunky laptops. Instead of windows on a computer screen, we’ll have pieces of electronic paper we can write on, send off the email and stack up, like sheets of paper.
“ This is going to change everything,” said Vertegaal. “ It is going to change the way we work with computers.”
The paper phone has the look of a sheet of translucent paper.