Introducing the PaperPhone

by Jordan Richardson on May 9, 2011

The more technology evolves, the smaller the objects seem to get. It stands to reason that we would see something like the PaperPhone sooner or later, but implementing this little guy is going to be a challenge – to say the least.

The PaperPhone is a piece of e-paper technology developed by a research team at Queen’s University. It’s just a prototype at this point, of course, but the “bendable iPhone” has people excited about its potential. The PaperPhone measures in at 9.5 centimetres diagonally. The inner workings are kept in a thin, flexible film that can, believe it or not, be rolled up.

In terms of a screen, the PaperPhone rocks a grayscale E Ink screen that’s an awful lot like the display found on an Amazon Kindle e-reader. Currently loaded with a few apps that can actually make phone calls and play music, the PaperPhone is an interesting prospect.

But the problem, especially if YouTube comments are to be taken as an indication, is in the mechanics. While smart phones use touchscreens and computers use buttons, the PaperPhone relies on a series of bends. The commands are actually triggered by bending or folding the corners of the paper-thin device. Rolling the right edge back will trigger certain commands, while bending it forward will activate others. There’s also a stylus for those not into the whole bending thing.

The plan is to eventually mass market the PaperPhone with an upgraded high-resolution colour display, but the tech behind the product has a long way to go before that can be produced on a large scale. Touchscreen controls could also be on the way.

Creator Roel Vertegaal says that he’s aware that the technology to mass produce the PaperPhone products is at least five years away, but that’s not stopping him from being optimistic. In fact, he sees it as nothing less than revolutionary. “It’s a replacement for the computer as we know it, it’s going to change everything,” Vertegaal says.

For now, the prototype of the PaperPhone cost $7,000 to make. Vertegaal says that the technology will become more affordable in time, adding that the cost factor could eventually contribute to PaperPhone products being made in various sizes. And folding, too, is set to become part of the game.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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