The PaperFold smartphone is probably the weirdest new development in mobile technology
I’d have made an excellent Puritan, mainly because I dub anything I don’t understand ‘witchcraft’ and distrust it without further inquiry. This applies to a number of modern inventions including (but not limited to) Bluetooth, wireless printers, face recognition technology, TGV trains and shoes with lights on them. However, now and then a piece of technology comes along that is so cool and interesting that it forces me to attempt to understand it. This was one of those occasions.
PaperFold is a foldable smartphone. Using “up to three flexible electrophoretic displays” the PaperFold smartphone can “provide extra screen real estate when needed”. Which is fancy-talk for: ‘It gets bigger or smaller depending on what you’re using it for’. So, say you’re looking something up on Google maps, just fold out an extra display screen (the display will automatically extend to incorporate this screen) and suddenly your map is much larger and clearer. And, unlike a real map, the place you’re trying to go can’t vanish into the crease in the page. If, half way through your map fun-times, you mum decides to call, no problem, fold the display back under and chat away as normal. You can detach the display screens and reattach them to activate various functions. For example, fold the screens into the shape of a notebook and the bottom screen will display a touch-screen keyboard to interact with the upper screen. And, great news for lazy architects, folding the device into roughly the shape of a building on Google Maps will cause the device to access a Google SketchUp model, which is transformed into an architectural model and can be 3D printed. Gah!
Still confused? It’s like this. It’s all the technological hijinx of a smartphone and notebook, with all the foldy-outy-ness of paper. No more scrolling. With the inevitable, and very annoying, accidentally clicking on something that goes with it. I accidentally bought cinema tickets for the wrong date that way once. The cinema refused to give me my money back. Deliver me from such modern miseries, PaperFold. Check out the video and all will become clear:
It’s the work of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Canada, who are responsible for a lot of scary/useful (depending on your outlook, I guess) technologies, including eye-track sensors and Smart Pause. As you can tell from the ghostly black and white display, PaperFold is still in prototype and is being revealed at the ACM CHI 2014 conference in Toronto on Monday.
Image: Human Media Lab