Folding and transforming: Is the multi-device the handset of the future?

06/05/2014

Folding And Transforming: Is The Multi Device The Handset Of The Future?

In a device-driven world in the 21st century, many of us will have a number of different electronics that we use throughout the day, from our staple - the smartphone - to the likes of tablets and laptops when we are commuting, working or relaxing at home after a hard day.

As much as we love our multitude of technology, though, imagine how much more convenient it would be to have it all in one far more handy device. Could that ever be the case? According to a team of scientists working tirelessly to make our dreams come true, apparently so. 

Reports state that a new type of phone is in development that would be used like a normal smartphone, but could also then be unfolded when the user needs something a little bigger, giving them access to a tablet and a laptop all confined within the one handy casing.

The team from the Human Media Lab (HML) at Canada's Queen's University got their inspiration for the device's functionality from the way paper can fold - hence the name given to it - PaperFold. 

The smartphone has three screens, and the fact it can be folded and unfolded means that it can have a fold-down keyboard, a bigger main display and an enviable ability to adapt into different configurations depending on the function required.

"The development of electronic paper computers that can adopt similar qualities to paper has been an enduring research goal for our team," said Dr Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab.

"Books use folding as both a navigational and space saving technique, and paper maps have malleable display sizes. The PaperFold smartphone adopts folding techniques that makes paper so versatile, and employs them to change views or functionality of a smartphone, as well as alter its screen real estate in a flexible manner."

With some of the bigger smartphone companies across the world working on innovations like quad-HD and 3D displays, this sort of technology seems almost space age in its theory.

It may yet be some time until we actually see the PaperFold come to the market, for now it's just a prototype device, but one thing's for sure, once it does get a release date, there will surely be plenty of people who want to trade their phones in to get their hands on one.