popSLATE – an E-Ink second screen for your iPhone 5
By Chris Wood
November 30, 2012
The popSLATE is an iPhone 5 case with a difference. Unlike your standard "dumb" cases, the popSLATE won't just protect your phone, but also provides a rear-facing 4-inch E-Ink display that's capable of displaying images, slideshows and even app alerts.
Having a second screen on the back of a smartphone opens up some interesting new functionality. In addition to being able to display an image (or slideshow) of the user's choice, the option to display notifications, app alerts and other content might be its killer feature. You could have an always-on map of the local area, your daily calendar, a notes screen, or even just the sports scores, all without the annoyance of periodically tapping the screen to stop it dimming, or the negative battery-life implications.
The case uses the iPhone 5's lightning connector for power and data transfer, and the developers even plan to integrate a tactile interface, using the smartphone's accelerometer to implement controls, such as double-tapping the back of the iPhone to cycle through images. Being an E-Ink display, the popSLATE only requires power when switching images, meaning that it will have a minimal impact on the battery life of your device.
The E-Ink screen is also claimed to be “nearly indestructible," a useful feature for a peripheral designed to protect your tech from breaking.
Initially, the app will link with your Instagram photo feed, and the developers will also be providing an API to let other teams work on their own always-on applications. The popSLATE is also touted as an alternative to E-Readers, but while it might use similar tech to your Kindle, at just four inches it might not be the ideal size for reading extensive amounts of text.
If you're interested in picking up a popSLATE, then you'll have to wait until it makes it out of the funding stages in January. The project's first 500 sponsors can secure their case for US$79, with the price going up to $99 thereafter. For now though, you'll have to make do with the promo video below.