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Shape-shifting modular interactive device unveiled

Lancaster researchers have helped develop a prototype for an interactive mobile device, called Cubimorph, which can change shape on-demand.

Cubimorph is a modular interactive device that holds touchscreens on each of the six module faces and that uses a hinge-mounted turntable mechanism to self-reconfigure in the user’s hand. One example is a mobile phone that can transform into a console when a user launches a game.

The device will be presented this week at one of the leading international forums for robotics researchers, ICRA 2016 (International Conference on Robotics and Automation), in Stockholm, Sweden [16-21 May].

Dr Abhijit Karnik, from Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications, helped design the interlinking modules of Cubimorph, which resulted from a research project led by the University of Bristol, in collaboration with academics at the Universities of Purdue and Sussex.

There has been a growing interest toward achieving modular interactive devices in the human computer interaction (HCI) community, but so far existing devices consist of folding displays and barely reach high shape resolution.

Cubimorph, made out of a chain of cubes, contributes towards the vision of programmable matter, where interactive devices change its shape to fit functionalities required by end-users.

Dr Karnik said: “For an interactive device, all of the faces of the modules should act as display screens and thus need to be free. Existing modular robotic devices sacrifice one or more of the faces for placing the mechanical connectors."

“Our unique design uses a recessed double-hinged turntable design that connects two Cubimorph modules and still allows all faces to contain embedded displays.”

A video highlighting the research is available on the BIG YouTube channel

Find out more about Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications

Fri 10 June 2016