Sony Develops 'Digital Paper' for Academic Use

May 15, 2013
Naoki Tanaka, Tech-On!
An image of the prototyped "digital paper" device
An image of the prototyped "digital paper" device
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

Sony Corp developed a 13.3-inch (A4-size) "digital paper" device in the aim of replacing paper educational materials and documents and improving learning effects, productivity, etc.

Sony intends to propose new learning and working styles by using the device and delivering, storing, writing and sharing electronic files via a network, it said.

For the digital paper, Sony employed a 13.3-inch flexible electrophoretic display using its own technology that forms TFTs on a plastic substrate with a high resolution (so-called electronic paper). It can display 16 levels of grayscale and has a pixel count of 1,200 x 1,600.

The thickness and mass of the digital paper are 6.8mm (excluding its pen holder) and 358g, respectively. It can be used for up to three weeks per charge (when the wireless LAN function is off and PDF files are viewed for an hour per day (including the use of the hand-writing function for five minutes)).

The touch panel of the digital paper was developed by combining an optical method and an electromagnetic induction method. As a result, it became possible to use the menu screen or turn a page by touching the panel as well as to write characters and draw diagrams with a stylus pen.

The digital paper supports the PDF format and can save handwritten characters, highlights and added comments with texts. It has wireless LAN capability, and Sony is planning to provide an application for sharing files on a network. It is equipped with a microSD card slot.

Sony aims to commercialize the digital paper within fiscal 2013. Sony and Sony Business Solutions Corp will start field tests in the latter half of fiscal 2013 by using it in class in cooperation with Waseda University, Ritsumeikan University and Hosei University. The aim of the tests is to improve the efficiency of teaching processes and learning effects by, for example, replacing paper textbooks and learning materials with the device.