Will the Paper Phone Bring Books to Life?

A “PaperPhone” that flexes and doesn’t feel like metal or glass will make e-reading feel more like reading a paper book says its creator, Roel Vertegaal of Queen’s University.

Vertegaal predicted his PaperPhone would make the current iPhone obsolete within 10 years.

Dr. Vertegaal unveiled his paperphone at the Association of Computing Machinery’s chi 2011 (computer human interaction) conference in Vancouver on May 10. The conference is the premier international conference of human-computer interaction.

“This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper. You interact with it by bending it into a cell phone, flipping the corner to turn pages, or writing on it with a pen,” said Dr. Vertegaal.

“The invention heralds a new generation of computers that are super lightweight, thin-film and flexible. They use no power when nobody is interacting with them. . . ” said Dr. Vertegaal in a press release about his paper-like computer.

The debut of the prototype paperphone inspired a creative vision from book lover and Discovery News blogger Tracy Staedter that I’d like to share with you.

Tracy wrote, “. . .wouldn’t it be cool if you could combine a regular book with an electronic book? My idea is this: a paperback that’s about 250 pages long, give or take. It would be made of paper. You could leaf through it and read it the way one reads books. But the whole thing would be electronic. The cover might have a touchpad interface not unlike the iPhone. The user could scroll through the list of books stored in memory. Once they chose the book, the 250 pages of electronic paper would automatically fill with the words and/or pictures. . . “