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Thursday
May052011

'PaperPhone': Cellphone of the Future?

Courtesy of Human Media Lab, Queen's University, Canada(NEW YORK) -- Tired of cracking the glass on your smartphone screen? Or carrying around the extra weight in your pocket? If a team of computer researchers is right, your future cellphone will be as thin, light and flexible as a sheet of paper.

At a computing conference next week, Roel Vertegaal, associate professor of computer science and director of the Human Media Lab at Quee's University in Ontario, Canada, will officially unveil the "PaperPhone."

Developed with help from researchers at Arizona State University, the prototype of what the researchers call a "flexible iPhone" is made of super-thin, ultra-light bendable film, but makes calls, stores books and plays music.

"This is not a maybe. This is a definite," said Vertegaal. "This is what your phone will look like."

Like Amazon's Kindle e-reader, the PaperPhone uses electronic ink to display content. But instead of using glass, the PaperPhone relies on high-tech bendable plastic material developed at ASU's Flexible Display Center.

The futuristic phone is about as thin as a credit card (but more flexible), less than one-sixth the weight of an iPhone 4 and has a 3.7-inch diagonal screen. Not only is it easy to hold, Vertegaal said, the durable material is better for the environment.

But some features still need work. And then there's the price -- the current PaperPhone prototype cost $7,000-$10,000 to make, he said. But Vertegaal emphasized that the point of the prototype is to demonstrate the possibility and the different ways of interacting with a smartphone or computer, not necessarily make a commercially viable product...yet.

In the next five to 10 years, he said he believes that the flexible interactive display will move from the lab to the mainstream, as smaller smartphones, computing devices and readers.

"This is definitely going to replace the iPhone, there's no doubt about that," he said. "But it only happens when Apple thinks it can make a profit."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio