PaperTab, science fiction technology has come to life at CES this week. As thin as a sheet of paper this 10.7 inch polymer display is a revolutionary glimpse into the not too distant future. A dual revolution at that, not only is the display a leap in technology but the interface is a revolution.
The Human Media Lab at Canada’s Queens University are constantly pushing the boundaries of interface technology. The bend gesture technology was displayed two years ago with the demonstration flexible smartphone and its bend gestures that use the screen itself as part of the interface.
The PaperTab builds on the bend gestures with the addition of proximity sensors and the location gestures it allows. By adding proximity sensors to each of the PaperTabs they become aware of each others position, creating the proximity gestures. Touch tablets together to transfer data or applications. Put an email in the out tray and it’s sent.
The proximity gestures also turn the PaperTabs into a social beast, working better when there are more than one. Operating in packs, with each tab displaying its own application multitasking takes a new twist. Build a multiple pad display by simply laying them next to each other, drag and drop across multiple screens makes for an impressive demonstration, watch the video and prepare to be stunned.
Developing the PaperTab has been a collaborative effort between The Human Media Lab, Plastic Logic and Intel. The display itself is based on E-Ink technology as used by many e-readers, the circuits driving the display are provided by Plastic Logic, built using their very clever conductive polymer technology. Intel drives the whole show with a Core i5 PC tucked away under the desktop.
In many ways The Human Media Labs are taking us full circle, after the shift to the electronic desktop the electronics have now been move back to the actual desktop. With the pads replacing tasks that have long been the domain of paper many industry pundits are digging up the paperless office once more. Credit where it’s due PaperTab is by far the most impressive implementation so far.
Will the future be a plastic bendy gesture filled world, or will we all be cyborg slaves to the machine before the PaperTab take over. The Human Media Labs have once again put together a technological tour de force and as with most leading edge technology it was on display at CES.