Paper: a media display technology without equal

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If paper were announced today, as an alternative technology to digital screens, its tech specs would be madly impressive. Paper is a media technology without equal:

- Imagine a lightweight display as thin as a single hair, capable of displaying high resolution color images.

- It’s always on and more than one hundred of these paper displays can be stacked together into a $5 information appliance (called a magazine, or book).

- Each display is flexible, tearable, and can be folded into a myriad of origami forms.

- It is very green. It is constructed from a sustainable substrate that is 100% recyclable.

- The material substrate for the paper displays comes from large outdoor production areas that protect tremendous numbers of wildlife.

- It is made through a natural solar powered process that captures massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to slow the greenhouse effect. The waste product is pure oxygen.

- Paper is touch responsive and highly interactive allowing users to quickly thumb through content.

- No batteries required — paper uses ambient light to display its contents. If there is no ambient light available, one of the displays can provide light for the others, through a non-reversible oxidation initiated with a single click of a Bic lighter.

- The displays last for decades and archives can be hundreds of years old and are still legible and legal.

- They are 100% hacker proof.

- DRM features are built-in preventing a perfect copy — but users are allowed to make second-rate copies. Copies of copies gradually degrade in quality unlike in the digital world.

- Paper is resistant to all tracking technologies, commercial and NSA. User privacy is completely protected because there is no history of pages visited, or time spent viewing pages.

- Paper displays extremely rugged. They can be run over by a steam roller with no damage. If dropped, each display will gently flutter to the ground.

- They are water resistant.

- They are shareable.

- They can be annotated with a stylus using any color.

- The displays can be rolled up into a useful dog training tool or crumpled into a fun cat toy.

- Paper displays are available in a 3-D pop-up format that doesn’t require special glasses to view.

- The displays are safe to use in a bath or hot tub.

- Paper can be used transmit data wirelessly to smartphones and computers at the speed of light, using QR codes, or data embedded in images.

- Paper can be scaled to the size of a house and used in giant outdoor displays in all weathers.

That’s a fabulous list of technical specifications for paper and the environmental features are incredible: it is produced in a natural, solar-powered bio-chemical process that eats up carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the waste emission is pure oxygen.

The paper then traps the carbon for decades, sequestering it away from the environment in a normal landfill, unlike special deep wells used for carbon dioxide sequestration efforts, which have caused concerns that they could leak and suffocate people.

Digital displays don’t look quite as good when compared to paper especially in displaying green credentials.

Paper or electron? You can choose both.


This article by Tom Foremski originally appeared on Silicon Valley Watcher, a Burn Media publishing partner.

Image: lowjumpingfrog (via Flickr).

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