Science fiction buffs have long dreamed of replacing books, magazines and even computers with a digital flexible display that can be rolled up and stuffed in a pocket or bag. According to some Canadian researchers, this dream may soon come true.
Researchers at the Queens University Human Media Lab in Kingston, Ontario, have developed a prototype flexible computer and display that is completely bendable and comes with a built-in touch screen.
In a press release issued by the university, Dr. Roel Vertegaal, the director of the media lab and inventor of the new paper computer, called flexible displays “the future,” predicting that in five years, everything “will look and feel this way.”
“This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper,” Dr. Vertegaal said in the release. “You interact with it by bending it into a cellphone, flipping the corner to turn pages, or writing on it with a pen.”
The researchers said the new technology could be used in new versions of tablets, smartphones and other products.
Flexible multitouch devices would offer a number of benefits; for example, they can be dropped and aggressively handled without the fear of cracked screens. Also, with flexible devices like a smartphone or e-reader, people could carry a large screen in their pockets without the bulky weight of a device made of glass or metal.
A number of technology companies have been racing for several years to create other products that could become completely flexible. Sony showed a prototype last year of a fully flexible, transparent display. And E-ink, a start-up based in Cambridge, Mass.,has also demonstrated prototypes of flexible e-reader devices it hopes to offer in the near future.