Researchers create a paper-thin computer

It's a long way from hitting store shelves, but the new Papertab tablet debuting at CES shows where the technology is headed.

By Kim Peterson Jan 9, 2013 2:09PM
Plastic Logic and the Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab's new PaperTab (human media lab Queen's University Canada)Computers are getting smaller and thinner all the time, and it's not hard to imagine one that eventually looks and feels like a sheet of paper.

One company, Plastic Logic, is demonstrating an early prototype of just that this week at the Consumer Electronics Show. The company's Papertab tablet has a long way to go, but you can see what researchers envision and what that might mean for the next generation of computer users.

The Papertab looks like a thick sheet of paper, but it has a plastic display with a touchscreen. It connects to a high-end processor from Intel (INTC). The Papertabs seem to work best when there are more than one around. A user can be writing an email on one, for example, and then tap another one that contains a photo to add that photo to the message.

"Within five to 10 years, most computers, from ultra-notebooks to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed color paper," Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab at Queen's University, said in a statement. Plastic Logic worked with the university and with Intel to develop the Papertab.

Those paper-thin computers will probably be fairly inexpensive, too, to the point where companies and consumers could have several around that interact with each other. Each Papertab can hold thousands of documents, which researchers say replaces the need for a computer monitor and files of paperwork.
Time Magazine's Jared Newman, who saw a demonstration at CES, wrote that he could see a person throwing a bunch of Papertab sheets in a backpack like a magazine without worrying about damaging them. "I could imagine sending an article to a sheet, then doing some old-school editing with a stylus," he added.

You can't buy anything like this now, and Newman reports that Plastic Logic wants to license the technology to other companies. So perhaps Microsoft (MSFT) or Google (GOOG) might be interested in incorporating the idea into future products. (Microsoft owns and publishes moneyNOW, an MSN Money site.)

"The point of the prototypes is to prove that the technology exists, and to encourage the industry to work on components that can fit within an ultra-thin, flexible display," Newman writes.

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7Comments
Jan 9, 2013 5:11PM
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Finally, a computer I can wipe my a55 with.  Bout time.
Jan 9, 2013 5:33PM
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Talk about being paper trained. :)
Jan 9, 2013 5:51PM
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Why would I want ot go back to using a computer (much less several) that has a bunch of wires coming out of it?
Jan 9, 2013 5:28PM
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Yeah...Step back....or I will cut you with my papertab, punk!
Jan 9, 2013 7:30PM
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Good.  When it breaks down you can just wad it up and throw it in the trash.
Jan 9, 2013 7:02PM
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Wait, isnt that a paper thin display and not a paper thin computer? The computer would be where the wires go to. My desktop has a very thin display (although it is not paper thin) but that is not the computer.
Jan 9, 2013 6:44PM
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"Researchers create a paper-thin computer"

That's great news!

It will be perfect for keeping an eye on our Paper thin Economy................
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