After several false starts, will this be the year flexible displays hit the mainstream?
The timetable for commercial release is still murky, but the technology continues to advance as evidenced by this week's announcement at CES.
Plastic Logic previewed its much-hyped flexible or bendable display technology a few years ago, but had problems bringing it to market. Now it’s ramping up with chip giant Intel, showing off prototypes of its PaperTab tablet.
Developed at Queen’s University in collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs, the PaperTab tablet is a flexible 10.7-inch plastic display that’s also a touchscreen. The PaperTab is powered by Intel’s i5 processor.
The user interface is unconventional compared to other tablets. Instead of using several apps or windows on a single display, users have ten or more interactive displays or “PaperTabs” to choose from, one for each app.
“We are actively exploring disruptive user experiences,” said Intel research scientist Ryan Brotman.
How the PaperTab works
One example of how the interface works is that it lets a user 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.
You can also create a larger drawing or display surface by simply placing two or more PaperTabs side by side.
Neither Intel or Plastic Logic released details on when the PaperTab would be released commercially, but they indicated it will be at least a few years before the technology is widely deployed bringing a distinctly different portable computer experience.
“Using several PaperTabs makes it much easier to work with multiple documents,” said Roel Vertegaal, Director of Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab. “Within five to ten years, most computers, from ultra-notebooks to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed color paper.”