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Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 4 months ago

Holosphere: With a sigh Pauline plucked one data plaque from a jumble of the wide wafer-thin reading devices. This one was dialled to the latest issue of Nature...



For a long time, the paperless office has been beckoning us with the prospect of an uncluttered workplace.

However, such a prospect has to work hard to overcome the sheer convenience of a sheet of paper!


The data plaques in the novel appear to be an attempt to reconcile the two: a paper like web interface that is as cheap to produce, and which results in the same level of clutter!

Plus ca change...!


Status: Likely

However, I suspect there would be one or two per person: you can stack windows on a *virtual* desktop as well as a real one, can't you?



The technology is already available. The real concept under discussion here is a portable and convenient web interface. PalmPilots, blackberry notepads and the like are a start but are still rather primitive compared with what Brin describes.

Prototype 'flexible' screen technology has existed for some time. Couple this with touch sensitive technology to allow annotations, and what more do you need?


The favourite contender for this idea is currently LED. However, Organic LEDs (OLED) are also showing promise. A better match to what was depicted in the novel may be electronic ink, which has low power requirements, but which is also very slow to refresh.


Pixel Qi, a commercial offshoot of the OLPC project, is investigating how to reduce the cost of screen technology. To quote from their homepage:

Pixel Qi has a new take on the future of the computing - it's not about the CPU or the OS - It is about the screen. We contend that new displays, with integrated touchscreens, and wireless capability are the future...


On Nov 24, 2006, TechWorld reported on "rainbow technology", which allowed data to be encoded into colored geometric shapes and stored in patterns on paper or or plastic sheets at a density of 2.7GB per square inch and and then played back through a computer with a special scanner attached..... It raised a lot of interest at the time... and as a consequence, was almost immediately debunked (by Techworld: we futurists took a little longer to catch up ;-)

This is impossible, as some simple arithmetic will show. Assume 600 DPI printing, four colors of ink, perfect accuracy, every single droplet is a bit: 600*600*8.5*11*16/8 = 67,320,000 bytes or 67MB per letter-sized sheet, given ideal, impossible assumptions. "Rainbow" is a hoax.



  1. OLED's: The Future of Light? - Jeremy Faludi
  2. Electronic Ink - How Stuff Works
  3. A discussion of Graphics Tablets
  4. First A4 colour e-paper unfurled
  5. Pixel Qi
  6. Rainbow Technology: 256Gb on a sheet of A4 paper? - Techworld, Nov 24, 2006
  7. ...no way! - Techworld, Nov 27, 2006

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