Paperfold smartphone unfolds three screens, converts to 3D printer display

paperfold smartphoneWhere some are looking in to how to make smartwatches easier to use, others see that more can be done with smartphones and this innovative prototype, the PaperFold shape-changing smartphone, could change the game once more.

The clever folks from Canada’s Queen University, Human Media Lab, who brought you the curved-display funkiess of the PaperPhone way back in 2011 have done it again with the PaperFold.

The PaperFold smartphone has been designed to enable users to fold open up to three flexible electrophoretic displays as so to expand the size of the screen to suit their requirements.

Described as a multi-display, shape-changing smartphone, the PaperFold allows up to three separate E-Ink displays to be combined into various shapes to support different functions and provide extra screen real estate as when needed.

Unlike traditional smartphone displays that require content that doesn’t fit on a single screen to be scrolled or zoomed, the PaperFold creators took inspiration from paper, which can be folded, detached or combined to view different parts of a document.

The three PaperFold displays are detachable enabling users to fold the device into various shapes that can be arranged creating an ultra notebook shape or a foldout map. Regarding the latter functionality I love the bit in the video below where the user folds amap into a convex globe shape and the view dynamically switches to Google Earth view. Further folding the ‘screens’ so that the shape of the device resembles that of a building the map switches the view to a 3D SketchUp model of the displayed building ready to be sent to a 3D printer. This is the future!

How much would you love your smartphone to be able to pull these tricks?

  • By flattening PaperFold’s 3 displays, the user changes views to a Google map that spans all screens.
  • Shaping PaperFold into a convex globe shows the map in Google Earth view.
  • Folding PaperFold into the shape of a 3D building on the map will pick up a Google SketchUp model of the building and turn the device into an architectural model that can be 3D printed.

Its creator Dr. Vertegaal, a professor in the School of Computing and Director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s explains :

“In PaperFold, each display tile can act independently or as part of a single system,”-”It allows multiple device form factors, providing support for mobile tasks that require large screen real estate or keyboards on demand, while retaining an ultra-compact, ultra-thin and lightweight form factor.”

Check out the video below and then wait til the day this comes to be the norm.

[youtube id=”GJiy7sb6SKw”]

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