Scientists have created what they call the ‘world’s first rollable tablet PC.’
Dubbed the ‘MagicScroll,’ it is a flexible touchscreen that rotates around 3D-printed cylindrical body, or can be popped out to become a flat display.
The working prototype was developed by a group of researchers from the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Canada.
MagicScroll, which is meant to resemble the form of an ancient scroll, wraps around a cylinder and rolls out to become a ‘full-fledged tablet PC,’ that measures 7.5 inches.
The scroll isn’t the only ancient object that the MagicScroll takes inspiration from.
It’s also reminiscent of an old-fashioned rolodex, as the device is fitted with two rotary wheels – one on each end – that allow users to scroll through contacts on the digital display with a turn of the wheel.
When users want to place a call, they just roll the screen back into its cylindrical form factor.
‘As a phone, the cylindrical form factor allows for a better ergonomic fit for single-handed use,’ the researchers explained.
And if users want to see something up close, such as Google Street View, the screen is easily popped out of the casing to view sites like a true webpage.
The screen has 2K resolution, generating crisp images and video.
‘When extended, magic screoll provides a full 7.5-inch, high resolution, multi-touch display allowing ht e user to increase screen real estate and check out the scene,’ they added.
MagicScroll’s creators say the prototype device is small enough to fit in a pocket and is easier to hold with one hand vs. a regular tablet.
Beyond browsing social media and making calls, researchers believe it could also be used as a dictation device or pointing device.
‘We were inspired by the design of ancient scrolls because their form allows for a more natural, uninterrupted experience of long visual timelines,’ said Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab, in a statement.
‘The MagicScroll’s scroll wheel allows for infinite scroll action for quick browsing through long lists.
‘Unfolding the scroll is a tangible experience that gives a full screen view of the selected item.
‘Picture browsing through your Instagram timeline, messages or LinkedIn contacts this way!,’ he added.
MagicScroll also features a camera that’s controlled using gestures, similar to Nintendo’s Wiimote.
The rotary wheels include ‘robotic actuators’ that can move or spin in place, like when the device receives a notification.
In the future, the researchers hope they can create a version of the device that’s as asmall as a pen that could be carried in a shirt pocket.
‘More broadly, the MagicScroll project is also allowing us to further examine notions that “screens don’t have to be flat” and “anything can become a screen,”‘Vertegaal said.
‘Whether it’s a reusable cup made of an interactive screen on which you can select your order before arriving at a coffee-filling kiosk, or a display on your clothes, we’re exploring how objects can become the apps.’
MagicScroll isn’t the only flexible screen prototype created by the Human Media Lab.
They also developed ‘Reflex’, which uses ‘bend sensors’ to control app interactions, and simulates physical forces through detailed vibrations.
Another device, dubbed the TeleHuman 2, is a three-dimensional projector that lets people in different locations talk as though they were standing in front of one another.
The system is meant to bring video conferences to life, letting people see full-length, 360-degree replicas of speakers on a call.
The TeleHuman 2 is a Star Wars-style hologram pod that ‘effectively simulates teleportation’.
It is designed to create a real-time full-length human hologram.
It uses a range of intelligent projectors mounted above and around a human-sized cylindrical pod.
According to its developers, the TeleHuman 2 system ‘effectively simulates teleportation’ by allowing people in different locations to appear before one another in life-size 3D
Designed and created by Queen’s University in Ontario Canada, the idea is to allow for someone to virtually be in the room, with the ability to move around and have all sides captured.
A range of depth cameras monitors the user’s movements in three dimensions, and this data is then sent to it’s sister device over the internet.
This can be in a different room in any location, potentially on a different continent.