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Despite their portability and popularity, the tablets have their downsides. Most notably, these devices have displays that could crack or shatter when dropped. A team at Canada's Queen's University working in collaboration with Intel Labs and Plastic Logic is looking not only to redefine the tablet's form, but the way people use them with the development of a flexible touchscreen computer called the PaperTab.
Offering a glimpse into what computers might look like in the future, Plastic Logic has unveiled a paper-thin flexible tablet PC prototype at CES 2013 in Las Vegas.
Dubbed as PaperTab, the tablet features a flexible, high-resolution plastic display that looks and feels just like a sheet of paper. But it is a fully interactive flexible, high-resolution 10.7-inch plastic display developed by Plastic Logic, powered by the second-generation Intel Core i5 processor.
Where the technology aims to differ from your average tablet experience is that users will be expected to run an app per display rather than multiple apps on a single display.
"Instead of using several apps or windows on a single display, users have ten or more interactive displays or PaperTabs: one per app in use," explains Ryan Brotman, a research scientist at Intel.
The idea is that users will then be able to share information between the PaperTabs simply by tapping them next to each other, flick through the document by bending the screen or join screens together to create a bigger display.
PaperTab's interface also allows a user to send a photo simply by tapping one PaperTab showing a draft email with another PaperTab showing the photo. The photo is then automatically attached to the draft email. The email is sent either by placing the PaperTab in an out tray, or by bending the top corner of the display.
According to the company, the PaperTab can also file and display thousands of paper documents, replacing the need for a computer monitor and stacks of papers or printouts.
The ultimate idea appears to be to emulate the natural handling of multiple sheets of paper. The company promises that the PaperTabs are lightweight and robust, so they can easily be tossed around on a desk while providing a magazine-like reading experience.
As of now, there is no word on the pricing of the PaperTab.