How Fabric PCs Will Work

Flexible Computer

The Fabric PC is completely flexible -- it even has a fabric keyboard.
The Fabric PC is completely flexible -- it even has a fabric keyboard.

To understand how a laptop computer could be designed to be flexible, let's first consider why conventional laptops aren't flexible. To do this, we'll need to understand how current laptops are structured.

Basically, the laptops with which we're all familiar consist of many individual components, each fixed within a metal frame. The entire structure opens and closes like a book. Not only does a traditional laptop's metal frame form a rigid shell, but most of its internal components are bulky and rigid, too. The largest of these components is the screen, or display. There are several different types of modern computer displays, each built with different technologies, but most of today's displays are inflexible, bulky and surprisingly fragile. The hard disk drive, used to store memory, is another large and rigid component of a traditional laptop. The list continues and includes many other components you're probably familiar with, such as the CD/DVD drive and the battery.

How could a Fabric PC get around the need to be rigid, with multiple bulky components all fixed into a metal frame? There are at least three main components to the Fabric PC design that will allow this to happen. First of all, the computer display will be constructed from a cutting-edge technology called e-paper, allowing the display screen to be paper-thin and bendable. We'll come back to this concept on the next page.

A second essential feature of the Fabric PC's flexible design is that its individual components will be built into a pliable fabric-like backbone rather than a metal frame. While the components themselves will still be rigid, the device as a whole will have some flexibility if the components are spaced apart within the fabric -- somewhat similar to how rigid rhinestones can be sewn into a fancy dress.

One final key to the Fabric PC's design is straightforward -- its individual components will be as small and lightweight as possible. Also, non-essential components will likely be left out. This minimalist approach to computer design has already been the trend for some of today's laptops that are designed to be small and lightweight. For example, lighter "flash" memory has been used in place of bulkier hard disk drives. With the ability to quickly download files wirelessly, the CD/DVD drive can be left out entirely. The e-paper display that Fabric PCs will use potentially has much lower power requirements than conventional displays, so even the battery might be a target for downsizing.

You may be wondering about one key point that we haven't covered yet -- the flexible display screen. Keep reading to learn just how flexible the Fabric PC will be.