Mobile devices with rollable screens are just around the corner, but one layer takes a little insight into old school schools for how a tablet can use the display technology. MagicScroll is hand-crafted to the Queen's Human Media Lab, combining an innovative 7.5-inch flexible display with the form factor more like an old roll.
Although more companies are known to work with flexible panels and companies like Samsung are expected to bring collapsible devices based on such technology on the market within the next 12-18 months, so far there has been less discussion about what form factor they want adopt. Samsung Galaxy X, as the coming device is widely known, is believed to be a clamshell, taking advantage of the fact that a flexible display can be folded in half without damaging it.
The university's university team, however, presupposes another concept. Their argument is that the actual scrolling screen not only provides a better use of space, but a more effective one. As such, they have borrowed the design of a traditional roll for their MagicScroll.
The 7.5 inch screen, 2K resolution, is wrapped around a cylindrical body. It includes all the electronics – the processor, wireless radios and other components you can expect to find in a modern tablet – and has a pair of rotating wheels for navigation, one at each end.
With these reels and the screen rolled up, you can browse a timeline of information. It may be a list of contacts, Twitter or Facebook feeds, messages, or web pages. However, if you find something you want to look into, you can pull out the screen and use MagicScroll more like a traditional tablet.
"We were inspired by the design of old rolls because their form allows for a more natural, uninterrupted experience of long visual timelines," Dr. Vertegaal, Professor of Human Computer Interaction and Director of the Queen's University Human Media Lab , said about the concept. The design would be easier and easier to hold unicorn than a regular tablet, the team argues there and more easily fits into the pocket.
It's more than just a scrollable display involved mind. The rotary control units also function as wheels, with motors that allow MagicScroll to spin or roll. Dr. Vertegaal and his team suggested that it could be used for more alert alerts.
In the meantime, a camera built-in would allow gesture based control, with MagicScroll waving around like a Nintendo Wiimote. Of course, right now the prototype is the size of a truncheon, but the group aims to shrink it down. "Finally, our hope is to design the device so it can also roll into something as little as a pen that you can wear in your shirt pocket," says Dr. Vertegaal.
If this is a better design than a tablet folded in half – and thus remains flat, albeit less – is likely to be argued. Comments on the YouTube video seem divided on that point, with some liking the cylindrical form factor, while others are not so convinced. Right now, surprisingly, there are no plans to commercialize MagicScroll.
PHOTOS Human Media Lab