Paper-thin, flexible phone signals the future of mobile technology

Ever since their worldwide debut in the 1980's, Mobile phones have been getting smaller and thinner. It's a good thing, too, those first phones were quite literally the size of your average house brick. All that has changed and modern smartphones can be as thin as 8.7mm, such as with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc. As impressive as this sounds, it's nothing compared to what researchers at Canada's Queen's University have come up with.

They're dubbing it the "Paperphone" and while it might not have all the features you have come to expect from your average smartphone, such as a color screen or a camera, it has one aspect that beats them all hands down - its size.

Not only is the device a fully functional phone, complete with voice and texting capabilities (in fact, if you look closely, you'll see that it's running Android), it is thin enough to fit inside a wallet. The Paperphone isn't just capable of being bent, it actually uses bending and flexing as a form of input.

Under the thin-film E-ink display is a printed circuit board that contains resistive bend sensors, which can be programmed to determine various bending gestures. This allows you to, for example, bend the top corner to turn a page or navigate a menu. They've even managed to squeeze in a fully functional Wacom tablet to allow for drawing directly on the screen as if it was a regular piece of paper.

Another Advantage the Paperphone has on smartphones is the battery life - when not in use, the Paperphone doesn't consume electricity and the E-ink display itself will consume very little, even with Active use.

Expect to hear more about the device at the ACM CHI in Vancouver later this year, but if you can't wait that long, head over to Gizmag for more information, as well as a Video of the device in Use.

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21 Comments

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wotsit said,
Given that it still has to be attached to something, seems pretty pointless to me.

Stitch that bad boy onto a shirt. If it has GPS, database and music playing capabilities too, got your very own Pip-Boy without the clunking the table evey time you put your arm down.

But with any technology things like this need to be invented as a stepping stone to then expand on so anyone saying this is stupid and is rubbish, obviously has no foresight.

Kinda like oh the first computer what's this clunky slow piece of crap decades on and everythings run by em... stepping stones

Just to be pedantic (as if 0.21mm really makes a difference), but the Samsung Galaxy S II is only 8.49mm thick :-)

That aside, I can't see the benefit of flimsy screens like this aside from the fact it could become part of your clothes - a coat sleeve for example. Much cooler would be a screen that could expand and contract to suit your needs - as big as a watch screen when you're not actively using it, and growing to be much wider and slightly taller when you need to browse the web or check your e-mail...

Tuishimi said,
I am just waiting for the implants. Sooner or later we will all be "networked" with implants.

Yes Please +1

Go Go Gadget Phone

Tuishimi said,
I am just waiting for the implants. Sooner or later we will all be "networked" with implants.

Mark of the beast...

Tuishimi said,
I am just waiting for the implants. Sooner or later we will all be "networked" with implants.

Upgrades are going to suck pretty badly until they have a standard for replacement!

Seizure1990 said,
maybe to you. I'd love a phone with that kind of portability.

Well, it is very cool.. I'm more worried about durability myself. I'm already paranoid about breaking my current phone as it is.. never mind having to worry about it blowing away in a stiff breeze lol.. but adapting that sort of thing leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities for sure.

ranasrule said,
impressive yet pretty useless
The potential is actually quite big. Imagine a small clam shell design that turns into a full 4" display.

That's pretty impressive, but I can't help but worry about the durability of something like this. All that bending is bound to strain those components.

Skwerl said,
That's pretty impressive, but I can't help but worry about the durability of something like this. All that bending is bound to strain those components.

If you read some of the articles dealing with this, the phone thing is only one of its uses. The people doing this are pitched it as a permanent paper replacement to the degree of using it in schools to turn in assignments or in office to hand off reports/memos. If that were to happen, it would mean tons of these things would exist in the numbers of everyone person having hundreds of them. For that to happen, it would mean the things cost less than a few dollars at some point in the future. Even if durability wasn't that great, assuming the prices were low, loading up a new one with the phone software every other month or so wouldn't expensive. We spend $200 on two year contract phones already. Lets say one of these cost $10. Thats $240 over two years. Not much of a price difference.