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HP Labs to blend digital and physical worlds

HP Labs to blend digital and physical worlds

Director shares the unit’s vision by showcasing plastic displays and the memristor for storage

HP’s central research unit, HP Labs, has revealed that its future direction is focused on morphing the digital and physical worlds with innovations that have enhanced environmental interaction capabilities, evolved storage, and are Cloud-powered.

HP Labs MIX director, John Apostolopoulos, demonstrated the focus at HP Global Influencer Summit 2012.

These innovations take the form of plastic displays which will “make new things possible”, according to Apostolopoulos.

“We believe that we can make displays in the future that are lighter in weight, thinner, more robust, have novel form factors, and are low cost to manufacture,” Apostopoloulos said. “We can do this through self-aligned imprint lithography [SAIL].”

SAIL is a process that works similar to traditional print, whereby it unrolls rolls of plastic and imprints the electronics for a display upon them.

Through this process, HP Labs will be able to create, for example, affordable curved displays, and wearable devices, such as watch-type products, that are 100 microns in thickness and “virtually indestructible” as they flex when impacted rather than breaking.

These displays will be Cloud-connected plastic devices – all processing will be done in the Cloud which aims to eliminate the limitations of the device itself.

As they are transparent, these devices can be placed against the environment as to morph the digital and physical world due to their ability to sense and understand their backdrop – at least, that is the goal.

Another innovation of HP Labs is the memristor, a resistor with memory, which is the “fourth fundamental circuit element found by HP, and was previously missing,” Apostolopoulos said. The memristor aims to meet the demand for storage by making possible extended capacities while reducing power demand and therefore increasing product battery life.

HP Labs foresees the memristor revolutionising storage and perhaps replacing flash, DRAM, and hard disk drives, and is looking to commercialise the technology between 2013 and 2015.

ARN's Nermin Bajric attended the Global Influencer Summit 2012 as a guest of HP.


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