Queen’s Human Media Lab unveils shape-changing smartphone

MorePhone’s flexible electronics and shape memory alloys give users visual cues to incoming messages.

Comments Off on Queen’s Human Media Lab unveils shape-changing smartphone April 30, 2013
Mike McLeod

13-april-Queens-morephone-HML-360Building on its previous flexible electronic creations, the PaperPhone and PaperTab, researchers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab have developed a new smartphone, called MorePhone, that changes shape to signal incoming phone calls, text messages or emails.

“Users are familiar with hearing their phone ring or feeling it vibrate in silent mode,” says Roel Vertegaal (School of Computing), director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University. “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.”

MorePhone is made of a thin, flexible plastic electronics layer — manufactured by British plastic electronics firm, Plastic Logic -– bonded to an electrophoretic E Ink display as found in eBook readers. Shape memory alloy wires, sandwiched beneath the display, contract and curl the phone’s entire body, to signal an incoming call, or a individual corner, to signal a new text message or e-mail. Corners can also repeatedly bend up and down to convey messages of greater urgency, the researchers say.

Queen’s researchers will unveil the prototype at the ACM CHI 2013 (Computer-Human Interaction) in Paris on April 29th. The annual conference is the world’s premier conference on all aspects of human-computer interaction.
www.hml.queensu.ca