Innovation | The PaperTab

Bernhard Warner


Form and Function A possible future competitor to the iPad ditches tablet conventions in favor of a flexible “electrophoretic” display that functions like digital paper.

Innovator Roel Vertegaal

Age 41

Title Director of Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab in Kingston, Ont.

Size At 400 microns (0.4 mm), PaperTab is an 18th as thick as an iPad mini (7.2 mm).

Scale Place two or more PaperTabs side by side to connect images seamlessly. With a single tap, users can attach a photo from one to an e-mail on another.

Clarity The high-resolution 10.7-inch screen, developed by Plastic Logic in the U.K., is about as vivid as a Kindle Paperwhite, though not quite equal to the iPad’s 264 pixels per inch.

Use PaperTab can display thousands of documents and keep track of their locations. Files shift from thumbnail to full-screen when touched. Users scroll by bending the display at its edge.

Battery Life PaperTab doesn’t consume power while resting on a single page, allowing for days of heavy use between charges.

CPU The device runs on an Intel Core i5 processor and stores almost all of its files in the cloud.

Next Steps

PaperTab may not appeal to consumers who want to use their tablet as a second screen for games or movies, but it could find a niche in the less entertainment-driven business market, says Futuresource Consulting analyst Oliver Rowntree. Vertegaal says he’ll compete by pricing the displays at about $20 apiece, though he’s still seeking funding and production partners to help meet his prospective price.


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