Paperphone; Tomorrow’s Most Popular Gadget, or Today’s Biggest Nightmare?

By Andrew McTaggart, Grade 7, W.H. Morden PS

There have been numerous advances in mobile techology over the decades, but the Paperphone is a real game-changer.

Dr. Audrey Girouard has been developing the phone for almost a year with colleaugues from Queens University, in Kingston Ontario. She told us that to control the screen, you bend certain parts of the flexible unit in a certain way to create an input, which produces an action. The Paperphone is made of a thin, flexible, plastic-like material.  Inside, are bend sensors about five centimeters long that detect where the unit is being bent, and if it’s being bent forwards or backwards. To create the display, the phone uses e-ink; a substance that conducts electricity and raises or lowers small dots of ink up or out of the “screen” depending on whether it has a current running through it. An advantage for e-ink is the fact that the ink isn’t hard on your eyes like light-emmiting screens. But because it’s ink like, on paper, you can’t use it in the dark. Also, e-ink takes a while to refresh, a major dis-advantage of the substance. But currently, it is the only available product for the purpose.

Currently, the phone has applications similar to what phones have on their home screens today, it also makes calls through a wired connection to the internet. Dr. Girouard hopes to install a flexible wifi antenna in the future to make the Paperphone more portable. Other next steps for the phone include colour e-ink, a camera, and among other things, a battery. Today, there is no such thing as a flexible batterry. Finally, in the long run, Dr. Girouard would love to incorperate touch in the Paperphone. She thinks having bend and touvh would make for the ultimate user experience.

A bright side of the Paperphone is if you drop is, it won’t break or dent like current phones. There fore, you don’t need a protective case. Furthermore, because it’s so thin and flexible, the Paperphone is easy and comfortable to have in your pocket. Also the size of the deivce could change from phone to table sometime in the future.

Dr. Girouard said that the Paperphone could be on the market as soon as five to ten years from now. But then again, who really knows how much the mobile market will have changed by then.

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