Soon, shape-shifting smartphone inspired by Rubik's puzzle

Soon, shape-shifting smartphone inspired by Rubik's puzzle

Soon, shape-shifting smartphone inspired by Rubik's puzzle

 Scientists are developing gen-next smartphones that can be quickly transformed into the shape of an armband, a phone or a tablet to suit your needs.

Researchers at Hasselt University iMinds in Belgium have developed a prototype phone called the 'Paddle', a single gadget that can be deformed physically into different shapes.

The phone is inspired by Rubik's Magic Puzzle, a device that consists eight square tiles that can be flipped and unfolded to form a variety of shapes.

"At the moment our Paddle prototype supports around 15 different shapes but this number increases every day as we are including more and more shapes of the original Rubik's Magic Puzzle," Raf Ramakers, a PhD student in Human Computer Interaction at the university, told 'Fast Company'.

"When unfolding Paddle completely it is nearly the size of an iPad, but when folding it up, it can become smaller than an iPhone," said Ramakers.

The device can be transformed into a book, whose pages you can leaf through to read. Users who need to scroll through a list can simply turn the phone into a bracelet and roll through individual links to scroll through various list items.

The device can be turned into an armband when a user needs to go for a jog.

Paddle's current design makes use of two external components: an optical tracking system and a projector. The tracking system consists of eight infrared cameras that capture light reflected off small infrared reflective markers.

The system calculates the position of every reflective marker in 3-D by combining images from all the cameras. The user's fingers are also tracked to enable touch interaction on the device.

The projector maps the user interface onto the device and also distorts the device in response to the user's movements.

The team plans to create a prototype which is entirely self-contained by replacing the external tracking system with tiny integrated displays that are sensitive to the user's movements.

A working prototype is expected to be ready in another 12 to 18 months.