People have evolved with paper. We’re familiar with how it looks, how the material feels, what it’s like to write on.
Digital Paper DPT-RP1 ushers that tradition into a new era, infusing the best features of paper into a cutting-edge technology.
Capable of displaying letter-size documents at just about full scale, the device lets you read and write just as you would on real paper.
Fusing analog and digital elements together, the technology creates a reading and writing tool for maximizing efficiency
—a vital capability in the digital age.
Paper plays a big role in certain occupations. If you’re a professor, doctor, or lawyer, for example, you’re always carrying around piles of documents, reading articles, and jotting down notes. Imagine if you could transform that paper experience with a digital tool, one that not only replicated reading and writing text on paper but also gave you a single electronic device to store all your documents in one place. That’s what Sony designers were after with DPT-RP1—a tool that would make paper-heavy tasks more efficient and help people go paperless. As we got going on the project, we did field research in our target users’ work environments. That gave us what we needed to start drawing up a practical tool for the digital age.
Our investigations showed us what makes paper such a great medium: It’s easy on the eyes, easy to read, and easy to take quick notes on. Most offices these days are already brimming with new, multifunctional technology like computers and tablets, which give professionals fast, convenient tools to read and write with. Despite the advantages that all those high-performance devices provide, though, there were still quite a few people who preferred the traditional paper format. For them, there were too many drawbacks—the eye strain of looking at an LCD screen or the clumsy, often limited pen features of the latest tablets, for example, just made for an unpleasant experience. The attachment to the pen-and-paper style wasn’t just about ease and familiarity, either: We saw how the sound and feel of the pen actually meeting the paper lit a creative spark in people, making the writing process more productive. With that, we narrowed our focus to reading and writing functions and set out to develop DPT-RP1 around the kind of smooth readability and tactile pleasure of writing that other digital devices can’t deliver.
To recreate the basic paper interface, we opted for a display that would render letter-size documents in just about full size. The device also features a slim profile, with completely seamless contours keeping the writing experience smooth and stress-free. The non-slip panel, a unique Sony innovation, minimizes parallax error between the pen tip and the writing position and captures the feel of writing on paper. To get the panel to respond to pen input with just the right amount of friction, we modified the surface texturing countless times until we finally arrived at the optimal sensation.
When we designed the user interface, our first priority was to make sure that it wouldn’t interfere with the document display. We gave the document screen a retractable menu, which stays out of view until the user taps it. Users can do basic operations like writing, highlighting, and turning pages without having to open the menu, keeping the interface as simple and intuitive as the standard paper style.
For us, the central goal was to embody the level of user-friendly practicality you’d expect to find in everyday tools. As we kept discussing what a “tool” is at the basic level, our findings began to shape every last detail of the end result. The buttons on the front, for example, are at the top of the device so that the user can’t accidentally touch them while writing. The back of the device features a plateau shape, with the edges ever so slightly thinner than the middle. Not only does that base surface provide reliable support when users hold the device for a long time in either portrait mode or landscape mode, but the tapering from the base to the edge also makes the device easier to pick up off a flat table surface. While the paper-like finish enhances in-hand comfort and reflects the lightness of the product, which weighs just around 349 grams, the power performance adds to the portable convenience—a full charge lasts for around three full weeks1. That central idea of practicality shaping the device finds a visual expression in the product packaging, a simple, elegant container that, like the best tools, emphasizes utility over flash.
To help users work as efficiently as possible, DPT-RP1 transcends the convenience of traditional paper through the power of digital technology. The device has built-in memory with a capacity of around 10,000 files, first of all, eliminating the burden of having to carry pages upon pages of documents around. The benefits of technology also shine through in the new search feature, which lets users mark and find items through handwritten symbols. If you draw stars or asterisks on pages that you’d like to revisit later, the device can bring up lists of all the pages tagged with the same symbols and bring you straight to what you’re looking for—all in the blink of an eye.
The Digital Paper App, meanwhile, lets you send files from your computer to your Digital Paper device wirelessly and read websites, e-mails, and other documents without any hassle. By syncing document files over network connections, as well, the device makes it possible to share and view documents with multiple users. When you think of all the paper that people have always used for academic papers, interview sheets, hospital records, and corporate conference materials, it’s not hard to imagine how much of an impact DPT-RP1 could have: The efficiency of paperless operations and the potential for brand-new solutions would be well within reach.
Digital Paper DPT-RP1 transplants the paper experience into the digital realm.
The timeless functionality of paper—fluid reading and writing—remains intact,
but the device’s ability to connect with computers and networks redefines efficiency. With this textual tool,
a remarkable innovation, people can streamline their work styles in new, exciting ways.