Feeds

Boffins herald end of stiff screens

Your iPhone will be obsolete in five years

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Flexible e-ink is, again, being heralded as the future of mobile computing, this time with navigation by manipulation of semi-rigid jabber-slablets, as well as grey-on-grey animated action.

The revolution comes from boffins at Queens University, Ontario, who are demonstrating how flexible e-ink can create a computing surface that can be twisted and bent to issue commands to the device. The electronics required to act on those commands are rather less flexible, but that's not preventing the flood of hyperbole coming from the University's Human Media Lab:

"This is the future. Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years," claims Roel Vertegaal, the lab's director. "This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper. You interact with it by bending it into a cellphone, flipping the corner to turn pages, or writing on it with a pen."

The problem is that the phone is not really like paper at all: the screen is flexible, but the electronics of what the researchers call the "PaperPhone" remain stubbornly rigid, as seen when the prototype is wrapped around a wrist. There's a video too, which also shows just how terrible video can look on an e-ink screen:

E-Ink screen wrapped around a wrist

Don't laugh, you'll all be wearing one in less than a decade

This isn't even the first time we've seen flexible e-ink in action – the Redius (from Polymer Vision) had a screen that rolled up and made it into production before the company went bust. We even had the chance to play with one, briefly, and were impressed by the device.

Another innovator, Plastic Logic, also managed to bankrupt itself with its own e-reader, but is now busy spending Russian money to work out how to make the rest of the electronics flexible. By printing electronics on sheets of plastic, the company still hopes to create a device which really will "shape with your pocket" – something Vertegaal claims of his "PaperPhone" prototype but is really only true of the screen.

The real value of flexible screens isn't in flexing them deliberately, but making them resistant to the flexing that takes place by accident in normal use. A flexible screen (and flexible electronics) will bend, not break, and there's real value there.

Aside from the hyperbole, the University Lab has done some interesting work with navigation by flex, with a video and research paper (PDF) which are worth following up if you're interested in new models of human/computer interfacing. But a phone will need a lot more than flexibility to have Apple quaking in its boots. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft – A jolly little war for lunchtime
Free-to-play WoW turn-based game when you have 20 minutes to kill
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.