When tablets first came on the scene, everyone was, to be honest, just a little bit skeptical.
We have smart phones and we have laptops, so why have something in between that has some but not all of the functions of each? Tablets seemed to be trying to be all things to all men, and failing in the attempt.
What made them successful was the ‘lifestyle’ that came with being a tablet user – on the go, trend-setting and stylish (especially as the first tablets to really catch the public’s imagination came from the Apple stable), tablets were aspirational acquisitions rather than business necessities.
What a difference a couple of years and a whole lot of advertising make. Now we have tablets of all sizes, mini-tablets that sit in between normal sized ones and their smaller smartphone cousins, and tablets with detachable keyboards.
We watch movies on them, do presentations to the board of directors using tablets and they’re even being used as menus in some upmarket restaurants. Tablets have made a considerable impact on our lives – but where can they go from here?
The next stage of development in the evolution of tablets has to be the use of flexible electronics.
Currently, tablets have one big disadvantage, and it’s a problem that’s shared by nearly all modern technology.
Tablets are incredibly fragile, due to the use of glass screens. Drop a tablet, even from a relatively low level, and you’re looking at a cracked screen at best, a broken and inoperative tablet at worst.
And with the top of the range tablets still weighing in at several hundred pounds, that’s a very expensive mistake to make.
Flexible technology is currently going through something of a revolution. Companies such as Plastic Logic have been at the forefront of R&D in the field, and now by partnering up with manufacturers who are taking the end product to market, the public is starting to experience just how important to our technological future plastic electronics will be.
The development of bendable, flexible screen displays that use organic transistors printed on plastic means that the boundaries set by the use of glass screens can be breached. Flexible screens would mean lighter, stronger tablets that are more suited to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that modern life tends to throw at them.
But not only would it mean more robust and longer lasting tablets. The use of plastic technology could alter the format we’re used to. A flexible, bendable tablet is a concept that, once the world of metallurgy catches up with its electronic cousins, is not beyond the realms of possibility.
So when can I buy a flexible tablet or Future tablet?
Currently, flexible technology is in its infancy. Companies such as Plastic Logic are making huge strides in the research and development of flexible screen technology, and have already industrialized the process, but it is then up to manufacturers to see the potential and incorporate these advancements into their own designs.
Leading the charges are Samsung and LG, who have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of flexible electronics not just for tablets, but for perhaps the more commercially advantageous field of communications, including smartphones.
There are still some obstacles to overcome, but the era of glass-screened tablets may be coming to a rapid end, and you could be replacing your current table with a flexible one within few years.