The future of tablets
Tablets are becoming part and parcel of our everyday lives. When tablets first emerged, a lot of people had difficulty in working out what role they had in our lives. The smartphone did everything a tablet could do, but was smaller, more portable and more convenient to carry around. Laptops had greater processing power and they had the advantage of a fully functioning keyboard. In fact, the tactile nature of laptops as opposed to the new technology of touch-screen tablets seemed to hold sway over the market for an inexplicably long time, given how the public had seemed more than willing to embrace the touch-screen technology on smartphones.
But tablets hung on in there, and slowly, the public started warming to them. Now, tablets are one of the fastest selling ‘everyday’ technologies, and are now commonplace.
But they do still have some disadvantages, not least of which is their fragility. Drop a tablet and you’ll see what we mean – that delicate glass screen breaks all too easily. This is the issue that tablet manufactures are now trying to address, by moving away from the traditional heavy and incredibly fragile glass screen and towards flexible plastic technology.
Leading the charge in developing this new technology is Plastic Logic, who have been working quietly in the background for several years developing robust, flexible plastic display technology that eliminates this very problem. For some time though, it was the development of a colour screen that was holding the industry back, and whilst the frame rate of displays aren’t yet fast enough to be used for devices like iPads, they are progressing in the right direction. Hues are still a little muted, but the expansion of a full colour palette is not far off. Plastic Logic CEO Indro Mukerjee explains: “Plastic Logic’s development of a colour flexible plastic display is particularly significant, since the same process could enable unbreakable, flexible display solutions with other media such as LCD and OLED.”
Why change what works?
The current design of tablets is good, but it’s not perfect. Apart from the obvious disadvantages (a shattered screen from a relatively low-level drop), they’re also much more cumbersome and heavy to carry around than they could or should be. Using thinner, lighter flexible plastic displays will not take away any of the aesthetic values of tablets, but will mean that they’re even more user-friendly than before. It will also allow them to interact more openly with other technology such as electronic paper, and could eventually completely transform the entire look of the tablet. So could the tablet’s days be numbered?
The next generation of tablets represent a groundshift in how we use technology, and how we use the resources available to us to produce them. It will require manufacturers in particular to re-examine their production processes, but in a world where resources are running low the use of low-impact manufacturing techniques and reusable resources is a must.
Tablets of the future could be as thin as a sheet of paper that are bendable, foldable and flexible enough to put in our pockets. They could find their way into a whole new range of applications, from in-car usage through to medical, military and even use in the energy industry. Tablets will be around for many years to come, but they may not be in the same recognizable form that we have become used to up until now.