Researchers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab have developed a prototype smartphone that uses shape-changing capabilities to let the user know of an incoming call, text or email. Built around a thin, flexible electrophoretic display manufactured by Plastic Logic, the MorePhone can curl its entire body to indicate a call, or curl up to three individual corners to indicate a particular message.
The MorePhone’s curling capabilities come courtesy of shape memory alloy wires that are sandwiched underneath the flexible display and contract when a call, text or email comes in. The curling can be customized by the user, with a curl of the top right corner to indicate a text message and a curl of the bottom left corner to indicate an email, for example. The corners can also curl and uncurl repeatedly to indicate high priority messages.
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"Users are familiar with hearing their phone ring or feeling it vibrates in silent mode,” says Dr. Vertegaal. “One of the problems with current silent forms of notification is that users often miss notifications when not holding their phone. With MorePhone, they can leave their smartphone on the table and observe visual shape changes when someone is trying to contact them."
The MorePhone was developed by School of Computer students Antonio Gomes and Andrea Nesbitt, under the tutelage of Dr. Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab. Dr. Roel Vertegaal is also responsible for the PaperTab tablet and PaperPhone smartphone, which like the MorePhone, are both built around Plastic Logic's flexible E-ink touchscreen displays.
While Dr. Vertegaal anticipates bendable, flexible smartphones could be available to consumers within five to 10 years, visitors to the ACM CHI 2013 (Computer-Human Interaction) conference in Paris can get a glimpse of this possible future when the prototype is unveiled this week.
Those unable to make the conference can check out the MorePhone in the following video.