The following is an excerpt from Poornima Gupta and Noel Randewich | 7/15/2012 | msnbc.com |
Tablets with paper-thin screens that can be folded and tucked into your back pocket, artificial intelligence and augmented reality — the stuff of science fiction may be coming to a store near you.
It’s been two years-plus since Apple launched the iPad and spawned rival tablets from the likes of Samsung, Amazon.com, Sony and now Google and Microsoft.
Much of the competition so far has centered on making smartphone and tablets lighter, slimmer, faster and longer-running than their predecessors, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. The increasingly crowded marketplace is also galvanizing hardware designers and software engineers to explore new technologies that may revolutionize the look and feel of mobile devices in coming years.
“We should think beyond just the touchscreen device,” said Lin Zhong, a professor at Rice University who does research on mobile systems. “Why do we have to hold tablets, carry many displays? We should think about wearable computers.”
Some researchers are experimenting with wearable devices, such as Google Glass, a stamp-sized electronic screen mounted on eyeglass frames to record video, access email and surf the Web. Others, like Microsoft, are investigating the use of 3-D cameras to create images that pop up when a person calls. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBCUniversal.)
Samsung has a concept video that shows a bendable, transparent 3-D smartphone-hybrid tablet that can also be used as a real-time interpreter.
Few of these new technologies will hit store shelves any time soon — companies and researchers are more actively working on touchscreen innovations in the near term.
In particular, organic-light-emitting diodes, or OLED, is widely touted as the successor to liquid crystal displays. OLED displays, such as in Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphone, are lighter, thinner and tougher than current displays.
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