PaperPhone Bends, Flexes, Makes Gumby Jealous

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[Photo: Queen's University of Ontario]
We’re all familiar with touchscreen terms such as "swipe to unlock" and "pull down to refresh," but could the introduction of a paper-like smartphone have us soon being told to ‘squeeze to take call’? Researchers at Canada’s Queen’s University of Ontario seem to think so.

Professor Roel Vertegall and the team at the University's Human Media Lab have been engaged in creating a working prototype of a paper-thin phone, which comes complete with many smartphone style functions. The slim and flexible device can take calls, play music and act as an e-reader, just like your iPhone or Android device.

[Photo: Queen's University of Ontario]

The interesting concept is claimed to be the world’s first electronic ‘paper’ based phone, however the idea at least is by no means a new one.

But what makes it work? The Paper Phone integrates an e-ink display, similar to that found in Amazon’s Kindle, however unlike the Kindle the Paper Phone’s display is flexible. This pliable e-ink display has been mounted onto a supple sheet of bendable sensors. Due to this marriage of display and sensors the prototype phone can react to your movements, triggering certain actions as you squeeze and bend the device. Check it out:

The prototype is in its early days yet, but it offers an interesting look into what might be possible--and soon. Now, I’m personally not too sure if I would like a bendy and flexible smartphone, but a ‘book’ made with a similar tech would be interesting. You’d still get that page turning sensation, but you could load it with hundreds of books, all of which could be changed at the "front page."

Professor Vertegaal said that he expects “all phones to be like this within five to 10 years.” Do you agree?

[Queen's University of Ontario via Daily Mail]

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