‘Morphees’, the proposed self-actuated flexible mobile devices conceptualized by Bristol University researchers could transform while a game is being played to simplify the exercise, or just bend itself to hide your private messages from that nosy bystander. Whoa!
The research group has come up with six prototypes of next generation smartphones that change shape on-demand to analyze different materials and actuation systems that could be employed to develop these morphees, including dielectric electro active polymers (DEAPs), shape memory alloys (SMAs) and materials like wood. DEAPs are plastic substances which change shape when properly squeezed by an electric field between two electrodes, while SMAs are metallic items which could be transformed and returned to their original shape when heated.
Among these prototypes, the one which has materials safest to use and one which consumes the least amount of energy shall be finalized. This research, led by Dr Anne Roudaut and Professor Sriram Subramanian, introduces the term ‘shape resolution’ along with its ten features to represent the resolution of an interactive device along with its touch and display resolution- including curvature, stretchability and granularity (the density of points where movement occurs).
“In everyday life we interact with lots of different shapes that tells us how it is to be used, for example a door handle, a bottle mouth. And mobiles are just rectangular, they don’t fit to their functionality. There are a lot of different interesting materials that are growing in research labs that we are not especially aware of. We investigated how materials that change shape, expand or shrink when you apply a voltage,” stated Dr Anne Roudaut.
The team’s also working on further challenges- like developing flexible batteries and other flexible mobile components. This project is a part of EU-funded GHOST (generic, highly-organic shape-changing interfaces) programme that aims to conceive better shape-changing computer interfaces.
Check its video below:
Source: The Engineer