04.09.18

Research team develop rollable tablet device - MagicScroll

AUTHOR: Apac

A rollable digital display inspired by ancient scrolls could indicate what the smart device of the future might look like.

Despite recent advances in flexible display technology, and a number of concept videos from the likes of Samsung and LG; a truly useful rollable device is still elusive. But a team of researchers from Queen’s University in Canada believe they’ve come closer to reaching that. A paper, available online, details a rollable touchscreen tablet with a 7.5-in 2K flexible display. 

The device, called MagicScroll, can be rolled or unrolled around a central, 3D-printed cylindrical body.
Magic Scroll rolled up
Housed in the body is the device’s computer, while two rotary wheels at either end allow the user to scroll through information on the touchscreen. When a user wants to examine content in more depth, the display can be unrolled to function as a tablet. 

The device is lightweight and that fact, coupled with its cylindrical shape, makes it easyMagicScroll unrolled person typing to hold with one hand. It can also be put in a pocket and used as a phone or pointing device. And it features a camera, allowing it to be used as a gesture-based control device (think Nintendo Wiimote). Robotic actuators in the rotary wheels mean the device can physically move or spin in place. 

“Eventually, our hope is to design the device so that it can even roll into something as small as a pen that you could carry in your shirt pocket,” said the aptly named lead researcher Dr Roel Vertegaal, in a statement. 

The project will make people challenge the notion that screens are flat and promote the idea that anything can become a screen, according to Dr Vertegaal. 

MagicScroll unrolled showing a map“Whether it’s a reusable cup made of an interactive screen on which you can select your order before arriving at a coffee-filling kiosk, or a display on your clothes, we’re exploring how objects can become the apps,” he said. 

Dr. Vertegaal’s Human Media Lab collaborator Juan Pablo Carrascal is presenting MagicScroll at MobileHCI, an international conferences on Human-Computer Interaction with mobile devices and services, in Barcelona, Spain today  (September 4, 2018).

All photos courtesy of Human Media Lab