Tablet computing takes shape of flexible interactive paper sheets

January 10, 2013 // By Julien Happich
Intel, Plastic Logic and Queen's University work together to revolutionise tablet computing by developing the PaperTab tablet, a concept that looks and feels just like a sheet of paper.

The multiple sheet computer is fully interactive with a flexible, high-resolution 10.7” plastic display developed by Plastic Logic, a flexible touchscreen, and powered by the second generation Intel CoreTM i5 Processor.

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. Ryan Brotman, Research Scientist at Intel elaborates “We are actively exploring disruptive user experiences. The 'PaperTab’ project, developed by the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University and Plastic Logic, demonstrates innovative interactions powered by Intel Core processors that could potentially delight tablet users in the future.”

“Using several PaperTabs makes it much easier to work with multiple documents,” says Roel Vertegaal, Director of Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab. “Within five to ten years, most computers, from ultra-notebooks to tablets, will look and feel just like these sheets of printed color paper.”

For example, PaperTab’s intuitive interface 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. Similarly, a larger drawing or display surface is created simply by placing two or more PaperTabs side by side. PaperTab thus emulates the natural handling of multiple sheets of paper by combining thin-film display, thin-film input and computing technologies through intuitive interaction design.

PaperTab can file and display thousands of paper documents, replacing the need for a computer monitor and stacks of papers or printouts. Unlike traditional tablets, PaperTabs keep track of their location relative to each other, and the user, providing a seamless experience across all apps, as if they were physical computer windows. For example, when a PaperTab is placed outside of reaching distance it reverts to a thumbnail overview of a