Could tomorrow's phones be made from paper? That's the exciting prospect presented by a research team at Queens University here in Canada.
Researchers from the University's Human Media Lab have developed a fully functional smart phone using a type of digital paper called E-Ink. Ealing is the same stuff used in the Amazon Kindle, but this experimental device, called the Snaplet, is bendable. It can also make phone calls, and play music.
With its 3.75 inch display, layered onto a flexible printed circuit board, the device can be controlled by bending. For example, you could flex the device and have your contact directory pop-up. This creates some interesting new possibilities. How about an e-book application that lets you bookmark a page by tweaking the phone's top left corner?
The researchers developed the prototype device to recognise different kinds of bending gestures. It can be worn like a wristwatch, and is smart enough to know that when worn in that way, it should display the time. When the user bends it the other way, making it concave (as you might do when holding it to your ear) it knows enough to become a phone. And it operates as a PDA when sitting flat.
The particularly funky thing about this phone is that it consumes no electricity when it isn't being used. That would potentially increase the available battery life of the device exponentially.
As if all that isn't enough, it also incorporates a built in Wacom tablet, which enables users to draw on the screen. How much more paperlike could you get?
I can't wait to see technology like this popping up in real-world devices, rather than languishing in the lab. Hopefully, in a few years, we might see these sorts of things displayed on the shelves of Future Shop or Best Buy.
Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets