The video: Forget the latest Droid — and the iPhone 5, too. Researchers at Canada's Queen's University have created a flexible, super-thin phone made out of electronic paper. (Watch a video about the phone below.) The PaperPhone purports to have all the capabilities of your standard smartphone — playing music, displaying e-books, making calls — but with far less bulk. Rather than relying on a touch-screen interface to type in data, users bend the phone to trigger sensors that navigate through menus. The 3.7-inch screen uses an e-ink display similar to the Amazon Kindle. "Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years," says the phone's creator, Dr. Roel Vertegaal.
The reaction: Just imagine, "tablet computers you can roll up like a newspaper," or "the iPhone 11 that slides neatly into your wallet," says Chris Gayomall in TIME. "Plus, there's all the added benefit of technology becoming more durable when you make it flex, meaning no more spider-webb-ish cracked screens for the especially clumsy." Sure, but it might not be that practical, or durable, says Peter Pachal at PCMag. "Will consumers respond favorably to a bendable product, or will it be dismissed for just 'feeling' cheap?" That's hardly the only problem, says Jennifer Bergen at Geek.com. The number of inadvertent pocket calls could increase "as a result of the user sitting down and the edge of their phone bending upwards." Take a look at how the PaperPhone works:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Internet piracy isn't killing Hollywood
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 10 things you need to know today: August 21, 2014
- The fascinating political evolution of Paul Ryan
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
Subscribe to the Week