Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New, Flexible Computers Use Displays With Any Shape

Date:
June 3, 2008
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
Computers of the future will change shape, respond to touch and physics, and fold into your pocket. The shape of things to come in the computer world will be anything but flat, predicts one computing professor, who is now developing prototypes of these new "non-planar" devices in his Human Media Laboratory.

Interactive disposable computer on a Coke can, developed in Queen's University's Human Media Laboratory.
Credit: Queen's University Human Media Laboratory

The shape of things to come in the computer world will be anything but flat, predicts Queen's University Computing professor Roel Vertegaal, who is now developing prototypes of these new "non-planar" devices in his Human Media Laboratory.

Not only will they take on flexible forms we've never imagined -- like pop cans with browsers displaying RSS feeds and movie trailers -- computers of the future will respond to our direct touch and even change their own shape to better accommodate data, for example, folding up like a piece of paper to be tucked into our pockets.

"Organic User Interface" -- the concept behind these next-generation computers -- is featured in the June issue of the Association of Computer Machinery's (ACM) flagship publication, Communications of ACM. The special edition is co-edited by Drs. Vertegaal and Ivan Poupyrev, of the Sony Interaction Laboratory in Tokyo, Japan (http://www.organicui.org).

"What we're talking about here is nothing short of a revolution for human-computer interaction," says Dr. Vertegaal. He compares our current use of flat, rectangular computers to the 19th-century satiric novel, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, about people who live in only two dimensions and are narrow-minded as a result. "I think computers are very much like that today," Dr. Vertegaal suggests. "You are essentially looking at a tiny tunnel into a flat, on-line world, and that causes people to think in a two-dimensional way. 'Flatland' interfaces are incredibly limited compared to natural 3D ones."

Three recent developments in computer technology have allowed inventors to move beyond the rigid, rectangular design of current devices. Advances in touch input technologies now allow for any surface to sense two-handed, multi-finger touch. An example of this is smart fabric, such as the "tank top" user interface being tested in Dr. Vertegaal's laboratory this summer.

The second development, flexible displays, is found in flexible circuit boards with organic LEDs (light emitting diodes) used to make electronic paper. These "E-Ink" (electrophoretic ink) displays are formed from millions of tiny, polarized ink capsules, half black and half white. A computer switch sends out minus or plus voltages and the ink will either attract or repel to form a display. Once the display is "painted" the electricity can be switched off. The flexible base layer allows the display to be rolled up and put inside one's pocket, like regular paper.

Kinetic Organic Interface (KOI), the third development, enables the design of computers that adjust their shape according to some computational outcome, or through interactions with users. This is expected to yield "Claytronic" 3D displays capable of displaying not just pictures, but physical shapes in three dimensions.

"We want to reduce the computer's stranglehold on cognitive processing by imbedding it and making it work more and more like the natural environment," says Dr. Vertegaal. "It is too much of a technological device now, and we haven't had the technology to truly integrate a high-resolution display in artifacts that have organic shapes: curved, flexible and textile, like your coffee mug."

Other OUI projects from Queen's Human Media Lab (see http://www.humanmedialab.org) include:

  • The world's first completely foldable paper computer, which allows users to move up or down in a document by folding or turning the pages -- a much more natural experience than using a laptop.
  • An interactive Coke can with a cylindrical display that plays videos on its surface and responds to touch. All the electronics can be detached and recycled separately from the aluminum.
  • A work bench for gadget design that simulates a real computer on ordinary objects of arbitrary shape, like a sheet of paper or a piece of Styrofoam. When displays are projected onto the surface of the paper or Styrofoam, it instantly becomes a computer.

The third project is useful for the design of new gadgets, but could also allow hardware to be downloaded from an on-line store, avoiding the wasteful purchase of new atoms, Dr. Vertegaal notes in his article. "That would be a final frontier in the design of computer interfaces that turn the natural world into software, and software into the natural world."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "New, Flexible Computers Use Displays With Any Shape." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602114700.htm>.
Queen's University. (2008, June 3). New, Flexible Computers Use Displays With Any Shape. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602114700.htm
Queen's University. "New, Flexible Computers Use Displays With Any Shape." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080602114700.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme

Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme

AP (July 23, 2014) Six people were indicted Wednesday in an international ring that took over more than 1,000 StubHub users' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets that were then resold. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Reviews Are In For The Amazon Fire Phone

The Reviews Are In For The Amazon Fire Phone

Newsy (July 23, 2014) Amazon's first smartphone, the Fire Phone, is set to ship this week, and so far the reviews have been pretty mixed. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bigger Apple Phone, Bigger Orders

Bigger Apple Phone, Bigger Orders

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 22, 2014) Apple is asking suppliers to make 70 to 80 million units of its new larger screen iPhone, a lot more initially than its current model. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins