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Canadian Researchers Create Thin-Film Flexible Paperphone

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the staple-it-to-a-moose-for-long-distance-calls dept.

Canada 81

fergus07 writes "Researchers from the Human Media Lab at Canada's Queen's University have created a fully-functioning floppy E-Ink smartphone, which they also refer to as a paper computer. Like its thicker, rigid-bodied counterparts, the Paperphone can do things like making and receiving calls, storing e-books, and playing music. Unlike them, however, it conforms to the shape of its user's pocket or purse, and can even be operated through bending actions."

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Stupid Canadians (1, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044786)

Floppies are dead; don't you read?

Re:Stupid Canadians (-1, Flamebait)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044818)

American eh?
Forgot to click the AC button?
FU douchebag.

Re:Stupid Canadians (1, Offtopic)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044838)

What's this? 200++:1 odds of others thoughts and opinions from this forums vs. your mere no PHD in English trolling goof's "unprofessional opinion"?

No. "Say it ain't so":

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2080454&cid=35795420 [slashdot.org] [slashdot.org]

But... it is!

Right up there in black & white. U? "U Got 'P L A Y E D!'", & you only played yourself by trolling others first for no reason.

I mean, who are YOU, anyhow, as far as telling anyone how to write and most importantly, if you are outnumbered here by 200 to 1 odds against you from some of the people here which is one of the most highly literate and rated forums out there there is, with the largest crowd registered (many are multiusername trolls though) of which that crowd's members said quite otherwise, vs. your "opinions" (thinly veiled word for your trolling)?

Even IF you had a PHD in English for Pete's sake, because in case you hadn't noticed? The topic was not about that. There is also no such forums here, for that either.

Above all else, if you had a PHD in English, you should be able to understand words within the framework of the context wherein they are used, and "catch the drift", not henpeck - it's not a class for a grade in academia here, not a job thing, not a legal document we write here. Get it?

So, gee, after that? Well, do You know what THAT, makes YOU? A troll. The lowest of the low. End of story.

[ sniff, I kinda miss that guy ]

Re:Stupid Canadians (1)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044872)

You are absolutely right the inbred Americans outnumber the inbred Canadians 200:1.

Re:Stupid Canadians (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044894)

you kinda sound like the troll with talk like that.... #justSayin, it's not good to stoop to talk like that...

Re:Stupid Canadians (1)

phearless (2040630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045018)

What is this post talking about? Anybody? Did I wander into an episode of the "Young and the Restless"? Forget it. Don't care.

Re:Stupid Canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045108)

I think you're confusing SquirrelDeth with APK. They're different people. You can tell the difference because SquirrelDeth didn't write a 40 page treatise on how you aren't qualified to criticize his ramblings.

While his rantings may look completely incoherent, APK very likely has full blown asperger's (or at the very least is schizophrenic). Here is one of his greatest hits. [thorschrock.com]

James Joyce called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045132)

He's suing you for plagiarising Finnegans Wake. Though the original is much easier to read and makes more sense.

Re:Stupid Canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045162)

sup, apk

Re:Stupid Canadians (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044938)

Redundant, like "ATM machine."

Re:Stupid Canadians (1)

phearless (2040630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045028)

Douche.

Re:Stupid Canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36046028)

..... the floppy eared bunnies are dead?

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Re:Stupid Canadians (1)

cosmas_c (1079035) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046694)

we hate the swiss (popular canadian comedy series quote) ! You are not german are you? #southpark #funnybot

Hoo boy (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044792)

That's a real stylish watch there.. It'll go with my Elton John glasses

the point in near term.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044796)

is that it doesn't break if you drop it.

think about it.

but the problem with current screens is just the stupid gorilla smudge glass on top. resistive plastic screens are more sturdy to drops and bends of the frame.

and this prototype is lame, lame lame lame.

Re:the point in near term.. (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044852)

In the very near term, maybe. To me, what makes this much more interesting is the ability to have a display that's just about any size you want. Fold it up and stick it in your pocket; when you just want to make a phone call, you leave it as-is, but if you want something larger, you just unfold it. I agree that the prototype's not much, but I can easily envision something the size of a large desktop display that you can fold up to phone size, 5-10 years down the road.

Re:the point in near term.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044946)

Yeah...I can see it now. It'll be just like those paper road-maps....once you unfold it, it's seemingly impossible to get it folded back just right.

That's a technology full-circle I don't want to see.

Re:the point in near term.. (1)

halowolf (692775) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045194)

A technology somewhat like this was used in Caprica. You can then get to thinking about the dynamic newspapers in Minority Report and the uses that such technologies could be put to. Its at least worth a try.

Re:the point in near term.. (0)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048894)

A technology somewhat like this was used in Caprica.

FTFY: A technology somewhat like this was envisioned/portrayed in Caprica.

The fiction part of science fiction is... fiction. Keep talking like it is real all the time and you'll never make it out of your parent's basement.

Re:the point in near term.. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045044)

this tech doesn't work like that. you fold it 180 degrees angle it's gone. paper isn't the same after being folded either.

that would be some active canvas technology.

Re:the point in near term.. (3, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045580)

Right, I really want paper creases down the middle of my screen... Actually this seems more like thin flexible plastic than paper. I think maybe the e-Ink display confused the journalists. It doesn't look like it would fold well though, just flex a great deal.

For larger displays what we really need are wireless display standards. Like Bluetooth but for video. When I am watching TV and the phone rings in my pocket the caller ID is displayed in the corner of the TV screen. If I place the phone on my multi-touch table that becomes the screen and keyboard. If I want to present something my phone display appears on a digital whiteboard.

Re:the point in near term.. (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046216)

It doesn't look like it would fold well though, just flex a great deal.

I'm sure if they can figure out how to put a smart phone inside a thin sheet of plastic, they can figure out how to put some kind of hinge where it folds so that it actually folds and remains useful afterwards.

Re:the point in near term.. (1)

ayvee (1125639) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048084)

But maybe you could roll it up into a scroll or something.

Re:the point in near term.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36054462)

The technology in Caprica was borrowed from the first prototype we built... in 2004, before Caprica existed. Check it out on youtube (it predates that too!) paperwindows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVEsIp0BicE

Useful now, but more useful in the future (2)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044998)

In the short term, I can see that tech would be very useful in industries where brittle gadgets don't last long. It looks really tough and hardy.

In the long run, they will be more flexible. Add to that surface capacitance [wikipedia.org] or similar tech, then you can have more practical phones than the one shown, but that roll up or fit into spaces that curren't devices can't possibly fit into.

But hey, why stop at phones? Such devices could be applied to uses that we haven't thought of yet.

Here's a thought that I had back in 2001:
Imagine a phone that when rolled up can be stored as easilty as a pen. When a call comes through, you can use it as an earpiece. But when you need to check you calendar, you can unroll it, continue talking as it doubles as a speaker phone and a use it as a smart device. At the time, my colleagues thought I was being silly. Not quite so silly now, eh?

...or how about (2)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045004)

Or how abut a phone in your wallet? Rather than carrying around both a phone and a wallet, you could perhaps slot a phone into the jacket with the clear pastic. It would be a tiny screen, but it may be all you need. I might look kinda dorky though. :)

Re:Useful now, but more useful in the future (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045052)

the rolling screen is an old idea too.

it's an old idea to use with paper as well. it sucks for use.

Re:Useful now, but more useful in the future (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046632)

Well, see what it needs to be is on spring steel.

Like those "slap wrap" wristbands from the 80s. In fact, there ya go. You fold it it a few times, slap it on your wrist and it's a watch. Or something.

Re:Useful now, but more useful in the future (1)

akh (240886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048044)

Or memory metal [wikipedia.org] .

Re:the point in near term.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045674)

God, resistive touch screens are terrible. Or has the technology improved that much recently?

Re:the point in near term.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36046002)

and this prototype is lame, lame lame lame.

I agree. While seeing this I thought "Oh, joy, the stuck some sensors on the back of existing flexible screens and wrote some software to translate the sensor input to bind it to an action. I could've done that sleeping."

Nokia Morph or Sony Revolution are much more appealing tech-demo's.
This is a hobby-shack project with neglectable software features.

Smartphone? Not Likely (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044808)

I seriously doubt that this is where smart-phone technology is headed. However, this technology is pretty cool, and there will definitely be many applications of this technology. Maybe foldable/flexible e-books? Maybe Apple will find some novel use for this tech.

Think different. (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044816)

What about the porn/self-abuse market? It can respond to, uh, gestures, your rigid touch screen couldn't dream of.

Re:Think different. (1)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044826)

We don't fuck our phones or our cousins, that's the American way.

Re:Think different. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044878)

We don't fuck our phones or our cousins, that's the American way.

We don't have phones so we fuck our cousins, that's the Alabama way.

Re:Think different. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045170)

It's worth noting that in Germany, marriage to one's cousin isn't illegal. Brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents are out of bounds, but the rest of the family is no problem!

Re:Think different. (1)

thebigmacd (545973) | more than 3 years ago | (#36052970)

Same in most, if not all, of Canada

Re:Think different. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044952)

Good to know what Superman stands for -- truth, justice, and not fucking our phones!

Re:Think different. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36047482)

I suppose that the benefit of selling to the self-abusers is that you can set your prices ridiculously high. They'll pay it and like it.

I may have just had a epiphany about Apple...

Re:Smartphone? Not Likely (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044956)

I seriously doubt that this is where smart-phone technology is headed.

Smart-phone? I always wanted that shoe which acts like as a phone, except that I never liked the idea to slide the sole out. With this, maybe I don't have to.

Re:Smartphone? Not Likely (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045056)

Less smartphone, more tablet. They have a serious disadvantage right now: Tablets will not fit in your pocket like a phone can. Make the screen flexible and they could furl or fold up. A long way to go though - the flexiscreen needs to be made bigger, higher resolution, color and touch-sensitive. Or it could just become a fold-up Kindle.

Not viable yet (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044926)

There's a few things wrong with this prototype.

1. No touch screen. Sure, "bend gestures" are an interesting idea, but that doesn't make up for the lack of touch screen. Touch screens are standard equipment on all of today's smartphones for a reason -- it's super easy to use. I'm not sure what would be involved in creating a flexible touch screen, but it could be a useful invention.

2. No color. Sounds dumb, but a black and white web browser is not going to fly. I imagine this is going to be in the 2nd gen "e-ink" but that may be a while.

3. The battery pack/logic part. The screen itself is great, but if there's a big "handle" attached to it that contains the battery, CPU, memory, etc. that's actually more cumbersome than just having a thick phone. My iPhone fits in my pocket, but this device would be tricky to squeeze in there. The size problem seems insurmountable due to the battery. Perhaps in a few decades we'll have incredibly small, flexible batteries, but that's a much, MUCH harder problem to solve.

Re:Not viable yet (0)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044954)

Fit the human centipad in your pocket.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=URfc4q7dmvY

Re:Not viable yet (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044994)

Perhaps in a few decades we'll have incredibly small, flexible batteries, but that's a much, MUCH harder problem to solve.

Well, actually... [powerstream.com]

Re:Not viable yet (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045020)

I think you're missing a point here. This isn't a polished end product, but a proof of concept. It doesn't have to have any of the features you describe as such - it only needs to demonstrate that it works.

Re:Not viable yet (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045230)

Sure, I realize I'm missing the point, as it were. Educational institutions do research on crazy new technology, they don't develop products.

But in terms of whether this could ever be used in a product, there's a lot of loose ends that they're glossing over (at least in what was posted here, I haven't read their research.)

Re:Not viable yet (1)

tortovroddle (1969948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045068)

The bending gestures are really awkward. Touching a screen is a lot more practical than bending it.

Re:Not viable yet (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045706)

The bending gestures are really awkward. Touching a screen is a lot more practical than bending it.

Bending is my middle name, you insensitive clod.

Re:Not viable yet (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048610)

Sure thing Mr Rodriguez.

Re:Not viable yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045254)

1 and 3 are true, but your 2 is bollocks. The Kindle is doing perfectly fine in black and white.

Re:Not viable yet (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046860)

Yeah I think the article and the actual source material are both pretty fuzzy on whether they've implemented a whole phone in this technology or merely the display. I'd say the display is nice but there's a long way from a display to the whole gadget, and a lot of the mass of your typical smart phone is devoted to things (battery, power management, flash) that are going to be hard to implement in the same flat, flexible tech.

Ultraviolet (0)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045042)

Call me when it does 3D video calling, Bluetooth, can drive my car, and I can get it by swiping my credit card in a streetside machine!

Re:Ultraviolet (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045998)

Bah, you and your simple phones...

Call me when it's got AC3 7.1 surround sound calling. I need that when in a conference call.

Re:Ultraviolet (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36055258)

I guess you haven't seen the movie Ultraviolet...

Cool, lets wait a couple years though (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045046)

As someone who does research in this area of technology, let me be the first to tell you that this is balls to the wall fucking awesome!! However, one issue they do not address is fatigue. As these displays are subjected to bending throughout their use, the nanoelectronics on the surface of the screen substrate are subjected to low strain cyclical stresses which fatigue the electrical components Eventually, fatigue failure occurs and the screen will die. This is a major issue in flexible electronics and is the only reason why there are not flexible displays in your pocket right now.

Re:Cool, lets wait a couple years though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045654)

It's fine, you'll just have to buy a new one every 6 months, just like with the current cells anyway ;)
More seriously, I'm interested in the manufacturing/recycling of those kinds of devices, would they represent something more sustainable than the current devices which are becoming a serious issue as they face very short life cycles?

Re:Cool, lets wait a couple years though (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045990)

Cellphone recycling is easy, give your old cellphone to a local hacker or donate to a cause or sell it for chump change on ebay.craigslist. It's the greedy that squirrel it away in a drawer for 8 years and then throw them in the trash that cause the most harm.

Re:Cool, lets wait a couple years though (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36049552)

Indeed. Your local neighborhood drug dealer or terrorist can make good use of your old cell.

Re:Cool, lets wait a couple years though (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046020)

It's fine, you'll just have to buy a new one every 6 months, just like with the current cells anyway ;)

You laugh, but wouldn't that be part of the point? If they can print the phone using a modern printing press, then they could run off thousands of phones per minute.

Display != Smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045094)

And I need to replace my coffee-soaked keyboard!

Interesting tech demo though.

blah (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045126)

That's not a phone. It's an appliance. Like many so called phones these days, it's too damn huge and not really good on batteries. (Wouldn't a battery defeat its selling point)

Now get the hell off my lawn

Re:blah (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045266)

That's not a phone. It's an appliance.

With this technology I can think of a number of appliances that could come with visual and tactile feedback.

Not a flexible phone (2)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045156)

It is a flexible screen, not a phone.
The screen is sticking out from a rather huge plastic housing, that includes the actual phone and battery.
This may be a demo app for using flexing as an input method (which looks completly useless in the video), but calling it a flexible phone that "conforms to the shape of its user's pocket" is really stupid.

Re:Not a flexible phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36081920)

I note on the videos that a Beatles tune is playing when the Kinks' Father Christmas is selected. Fucking awesome. Also, note the random selection of selections made when a bunch of buttons is displayed. Sorry, HOW is this an improvement on anything?

MAKE A PAD!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045432)

Just sandwitch this thing between two sheets of plexyglass, add a little bulge for the batteries and you will get an sturdy, slightly flexible, thin, light and completely convenient pad that I can actually *throw* in a bag without fear of breaking an expensive toy.

Re:MAKE A PAD!!! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046038)

Into a bag? Yeah right!

Hmm... (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045828)

"Within five years" seems a bit fast for "everything". My first thought, however, is that the keys that are also in my pocket would quickly make interesting holes in the device. Interesting in the sense that they'll clearly show where the vital points are :-D

Re:Hmm... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046052)

that the keys that are also in my pocket would quickly make interesting holes in the device

... as they would on any other large-screen phone (well, scratches). I know, happened to my Nokia E61i :-(

Now I'm lots more careful, and use one of those leader pouch thingies for my keys.... Or am just really careful to put keys into right pocket if phone is in left.

Re:Hmm... (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046094)

Yep, which is why I have screen protectors. A device that thin and supple, though, might be a lot easier to plain perforate.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36049558)

That's why I still use a flip-phone, I had an old candybar style, that the keys broke, since then I have been a flip-phone adherent. Sadly, it seems that I am nearly alone in this day and age.

I love the partial truths.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045974)

"it feels like a thick piece of paper"

Except for the Cellphone RF section and the Battery, those are still thick and not flexible so that you can have more than 30 minutes talk time and a range larger than 200 meters...

Advances in battery tech and RF tech have not increased to the point where the claims of this "phone" can be a reality as a real product.

Once the get a Li-Polymer battery that will not 1, Explode and 2, survive repeat flexing plus that pesky power capacity issue dealt with along with elimination of the need for any heat dissipation for the RF section along with significantly improved receiver sensitivity and transmitter efficiency... It's just a demo of vapor ware.

that's what i'm waiting for (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046352)

fuck tablets. i want something i can fold up or roll up and stick in a pocket

essentially, a smaller form of the traditional morning newspaper, except i only need one plasticy page and one copy, forever. something with the consistency of those durable hiking maps

phone, text, video, camera, audio: yeah, it's all in there too. batteries? pfffft, we don't need no stinkin' batteries: it runs off you. the thing will be low power enough that it will tap something about our biology unobtrusively to derive some power. walking maybe?

basically, a piece of eInked paper that Gutenberg himself wouldn't see anything out of the ordinary about, until the images started moving on their own or the paper made a sound

so we have our star trek tricorders already: smartphones. fuck that

we have our R2D2 3D projections: 3D tv. fuck that

i want a mangy piece of plasticy paper. and i want to carry it in my pocket, and i want to wallpaper my rooms with it

that's nirvana

star wars and star trek got it wrong

Re:that's what i'm waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36047766)

that's what i'm waiting for ... fuck tablets. i want something i can fold up or roll up and stick in a pocket

Ewww ... TMI

Great. Just what I need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36046412)

A phone that get's dog-eared after a week of use.

Looks like it's running Android, eh? (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046616)

check out The top status bar.  doesn't say in TFA.

What happens if it gets creased? (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046752)

What happens to it if you accidentally put a crease in it? Like, you have it rolled up or folded or something, and something heavy lands on it?

Cue the jokes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36046782)

and can even be operated through bending actions.

You really had to add that last part, did you???...

I've met the researchers, this story is overblown (1)

jj13 (974374) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047250)

I've met some of the researchers in this lab, and I've attended talks on their work. They definitely don't mean this prototype to be represented as a practical paperphone device to be sold anytime soon. The prototype is being used simply to investigate bending gestures as a means to UI navigation, complementary to touch and buttons. From what I recall their results have been promising for certain types of behaviour, and it certainly is great to have this level of basic investigation being done long before these types of devices hit the market.

So many uses! (1)

Dan212 (2118982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047770)

If you get bored with the apps on your paper phone, you can practice origami or play paper football.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36054352)

Did no one else see this idea in Ultraviolet? Am I the only one who watched that movie? They have disposable cell phones you can get out of a vending machine, This is the ultimate in anonymous calling!.

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