Paper has had a pretty good run. First used in 105AD by the Han Dynasty, paper really came to the fore in the 19th Century thanks to the innovative steam driven presses of the time. It’s cheap, it can be made from recycled materials, and it is readily available in an array of quantity sizes. However, Sony thinks that paper has had it too good for too long and they hope to remove the crown to place it on the head of one of their latest developments, the E Ink slate touchscreen device.
For all the benefits of paper it does have its drawback. No matter how ethically it is sourced, some loss of trees is fairly inevitable while schoolchildren the world over will bemoan the weight of having several text books in their bag. Writing on paper is also quite final – ignoring pencils and rubbers, once you’ve written on paper it has taken a giant leap towards the end of its useful life.
The Sony slate has a so called E Ink screen and comes with a stylus. It will store all of the textbooks and literature a classroom full of students require and if you make a mistake you will be able to delete it and go again. Users will even be able to annotate text books without the fear of having to buy an expensive replacement. The E Ink is currently in development and Sony plans to field test it in Japan with a proposed release date some time before March 2014. Could this be the end for paper?