Computer sceens coming to Coke cans, paper

Interactive disposable computer on a Coke can, developed at Queen's University

Flat screens for computers? They will soon be passe if the vision of Queen's University computing professor Roel Vertegaal takes off outside the lab.

The Ontario school's Human Media Laboratory is cooking up futuristic computer screens on Coke cans that can receive RSS feeds and videos (as seen above) and even on paper (as seen below) that blow away some of the other PC form factor improvements on the market or in the works (see our recent slideshow on Desktops of the Future).

Paper computer from Queen's University

The lab describes its mission as being: to develop disruptive technologies and new ways of working with computers that are viable 10 to 20 years from now.

popularized by Apple with its iPhones and one that Microsoft is also touting for its upcoming Windows 7 .

Vertegaal also sees lots more in the way of touch screens, a notion hugely


"What we're talking about here is nothing short of a revolution for human-computer interaction," says Vertegaal, who writes about "organic user interfaces" in the June issue of the Association of Computer Machinery publication called Communications of the ACM.

Touch technology (such as a tank top user interface being tested this summer in the lab), flexible displays and the really out there Kinetic Organic Interface, which involves computers that can change shape depending on what they're displaying.

"We want to reduce the computer's stranglehold on cognitive processing by imbedding it and making it work more and more like the natural environment," says Vertegaal, in a statement. "It is too much of a technological device now, and we haven't had the technology to truly integrate a high-resolution display in artifacts that have organic shapes: curved, flexible and textile, like your coffee mug."

More must-reads from Bob Brown:

* What "The Sopranos" taught me about technology (plus our Sopranos tech quiz)

* Behind the scenes of MIT's network

* What makes Harvard's net tick

* The network industry's most colorful story ever

* Alice and Bob: Security's inseparable couple

* A brief history of the Bob-ification of the computing industry

* When animals attack...corporate networks

* Earthquakes, fire and lightning: Must be a NEBS test

* For the record: Guinness book open to industry's greatest hits

* Whirling through the world of propeller beanies

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