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May062011

‘Paperphone’: Flat, Flexible e-Paper Display Smartphone and Tablet Unveiled

Researchers at Queen’s University in Ontario Canada, unveiled a prototype of their “paperphone,” a smartphone that has a flexible e-paper display instead of an LCD/TFT touchscreen.

“The prototype consists of a 3.7″ electrophoretic E Ink display rigged up with 2″ bi-directional bend sensors so that the user interface can respond when the screen is bent. The machine was built with E Ink’s Broadsheet AM300 prototyping kit, Gumstix processor and Arduino microcontroller. All of the sensor recognition takes place in a connected laptop running Cycling 74’s Max 5 programming environment.”

Not only is the device a fully functional phone, complete with voice and texting capabilities (in fact, if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s running Android), it is thin enough to fit inside a wallet. The Paperphone isn’t just capable of being bent, it actually uses bending and flexing as a form of input.

Under the thin-film E-ink display is a printed circuit board that contains resistive bend sensors, which can be programmed to determine various bending gestures. This allows you to, for example, bend the top corner to turn a page or navigate a menu. They’ve even managed to squeeze in a fully functional Wacom tablet to allow for drawing directly on the screen as if it was a regular piece of paper.

Another Advantage the Paperphone has on smartphones is the battery life – when not in use, the Paperphone doesn’t consume electricity and the E-ink display itself will consume very little, even with Active use.

The Paperphone will be given a public unveiling next week at the Computer Human Interface conference in Vancouver.

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