Paperless … uh … papers

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By Benjamin Kwiecien

By Benjamin Kwiecien

Throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, scientists had promised many revolutionary inventions. According to all the old “Tomorrow land” shows I watched late at night on the Disney channel as a small child, we should have Jetpacks, a timeshare on the moon, and a flying car. Oh, and all of our clothes should be made out of latex and have odd rings and jutting edges that make you look like a Final Fantasy Cosplayer….or a huge tool.

Surprisingly, one of these promises is set to become a reality by 2008. Newspapers made out of actual paper may cease to exist. Imagine buying a laptop screen that you can roll up like a newspaper. You wont have to worry about damaging it or anything else; since it will be a fairly inexpensive item you can take on your commute to school or work.

Developed by E Ink, these screens rely on microcapsules that consist of oppositely charged black and white pigments floating in a clear fluid. The pigments rise or fall in the fluid, depending on an electrical charge. Thousands of microcapsules sandwiched between a piece of steel foil and a piece of clear plastic become the dots that form a black and white page. Unlike liquid crystal displays (LCDs), they don’t need to be backlit for an image to be visible.

This thin screen will not break like glass because it was designed with extreme flexibility in order to carry around. Imagine leaving this type of “E-Paper” connected to the internet while you’re not using it, and getting up to the minute news downloaded throughout the day, or until you decide to take it somewhere. It has to be seen to be believed, since it is literally paper-thin.

Now, the determining factor in all of this is price and convenience. The printed newspaper, as of now, is diminishing even without this type of digital newspaper. Many people have stopped reading newspapers altogether, and get their information from the television and the Internet. In my own eyes, this digital newspaper would need free service after you purchase the device, or something very exclusive, that consumers cannot get anywhere else. Free service would be fairly easy, since it could be supported by ads on the sides of the articles you downloaded, much like the banners on news sites on the Internet.

The possibilities of such a device are limitless. The manufacturers could add a headphone port and add a streaming news channel you could listen to or watch. The ball is left in the developer’s corner, and hopefully they wont drop it.

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