Thin Is In

Tools

This may be the computer of the future - one that will make your PC or tablet seem like an old clunker.

"These things are extremely thin, and thus very lightweight," said Dr. Roel Vertegaal, professor of computer science at Queens University.

Climb to the top floor of Jackson Hall at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and you'll find its computer lab hard at work on the PaperTab.

It's  thin and light because it uses a new flexible display.

"Which means you can toss them around on the desk without breaking them and you can have many of these on a stack or in your file folder or wherever you might want to take them or carry them," said Dr. Vertegaal.

Use one PaperTab for each program you're running - each app. 

"So here I have a map application and I want a little more screen real estate so I can see a bigger map. All I need to do is grab the second display and boom, we've got a bigger map," said Vertegaal.

Want to email a photo?

Touch and transfer.

Bending the corner means "send."

Want to read an article?

Grab it and go.

The lab exists among old stone buildings at Queens University.

Like the university itself, the PaperTab is a mesh of the old and new.

They like to think of it as more of an advance in paper, instead of computers.

"So I think there's an advantage to going back to the way we were handling sheets of paper," said doctoral student Aneesh Tarun.

Now, the PaperTab isn't actually doing a lot of computing - at least not yet. 

"Well, of course we're going to have to get rid of those wires," said Vertegaal.

Right now, wires connect the PaperTab to a processor.

But Vertegaal says it could be fitted with a mini processor within a year or two and that could get the PaperTab on the market.

Down the road, the brains of a computer may get just as thin and flexible as the PaperTab already is.

"And that will allow us to put the entire chip set underneath the display as an extra layer," said Vertegaal.

Every advance in computers has been amazing - especially now, when thin is in.

Sunday, April 20, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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