WiredÂ Gadget Lab: Microsoft unveiled Courier, a tablet that sports two 7-inch multitouch screens, at IDF (Intel Developer Forum). The two screens fold like a booklet. Unfortunately the two screens are physically separate and a rather large hinge is in the middle. You can use your finger or a stylus to write, draw and do gestures. The picture above is a late-stage prototype. This coincides with rumors that Microsoft is developing a tablet with Surface-like features. Dell and Intel are also collaborating on a tablet due next year. Add Nokia, Fusion Garage, TechCrunch and HTC to the list of companies. If Apple brings out its much-rumored tablet device next year as well as Microsoft and others, we’re looking at an exciting 2010.
Schools might be the largest target market for a device like the Courier. Textbooks can certainly be replaced but I am sure we can all see other possibilities such as a notebook, a real one where you scribble and draw stuff on like the picture above. For art students, the display must have pressure sensitivity, a feature that capacitive touch implementations do not have. On the other hand most resistive technologies lack responsiveness and deteriorates over time. I have seen a multitouch resistive technology that was very impressive: Stantum. Microsoft and others should take a serious look at its touch technology. Stantum’s implementation allows for very responsive multitouch as well as many levels of pressure.
Drexel University just announced yesterday that more than 300 nursing students traded in their books for Apple’s iPod touch. The university plans to make vital medical information readily available to students and professionals via the iPod touch. The faculty focused on patient safety when they decided to switch to the iPod touch devices. The weight advantage alone might have been compelling: 40-lbs of books versus 4-oz of electronics. The iPod touch is used mostly for information consumption but the Courier concept can be used for both consumption and creation.
The shift from paper-based books and notebooks seems to be accelerating. We have Amazon to thank to prove that it is possible with its Kindle devices. But that’s just the start as you can see from what Microsoft has done with Courier and you can’t completely appreciate what the Courier can be until you’ve seen the video over at Gizmodo.