iPads and e-readers have been flooding into America’s classrooms for years. While the boom in mobile tech has been hailed as a boon to educators and students, critics point to the fragility of these products and students’ general clumsiness as a major obstacle to further implementation.
Scientists at Queens University in Canada, however, have developed what they are calling e-paper, an ultra-thin,bendable display capable of performing all of the functions of current tablet computers, which can render those complaints obsolete.
The current prototype can do everything high-end mobile phones and low-end tablet computers can do, such as display books, play music and make phone calls. The amazing part about these now-mundane tasks is that they are being performed by a device that is no thicker than a credit card, or an identification badge.
“This is the future. Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years,” Roel Vertegaal, Director of Queen’s University Human Media Lab. “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.”
Another benefit of the technology is power consumption. The device doesn’t use any power unless it is being bent.
“Everything can be stored digitally and you can place these computers on top of each other just like a stack of paper, or throw them around the desk,” Vertegaal said.
Classroom applications are endless. Textbooks, computers and media devices would all be reduced to sheets of “paper.” Of course, the technology is just in its prototype phase, and it will be some time before a market-ready version hits shelves. Nevertheless, the potential this technology offers to schools is almost unimaginable.