Dirt-Cheap Touchscreen Tech Means They'll Be Everywhere Soon

You can operate your tablet and your smartphone by touch, but what if you could do the same with say, nutritional labels or price tags?

A research team headed up at Harvard University has developed paper electronic touch pads that cost just 25 cents per square meter. That means a small screen would be so cheap you could throw it out when you don't need it. Not exactly something people are doing with their iPads.

These inexpensive displays are made out of paper that has been coated in aluminum and a transparent polymer. With the aid of an external circuit, the metallized material becomes a capacitive surface. While the paper is super cheap, the challenge now is in finding equally affordable power sources, as well as reasonably-priced, flexible electronics.

Dirt-Cheap Touchscreen Tech Means They'll Be Everywhere Soon

The fields where this invention could be used run the gamut from entertainment to medicine to education. Imagine answering multiple choice questions on a test printed on touch paper. The researchers have already come up with a secure box with a keypad that makes you type in a code in order to enter it. Perhaps this is the kind of piggybank our kids will be using to protect their pennies. [Chemistry World via PhysOrg]

Image credit: Top: violetkaipa/Shutterstock, Bottom: Aaron Mazzeo/Harvard University