The Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Canada has been working on Organic User Interfaces, which means they have created devices with unusual shapes and modes of display. Back in February, researchers unveiled ReFlex, a smartphone with a flexible display.
“When this smartphone is bent down on the right, pages flip through the fingers from right to left, just like they would in a book,” said Roel Vertegaal, director at the Human Media Lab. “More extreme bends speed up the page flips. Users can feel the sensation of the page moving through their fingertips via a detailed vibration of the phone. This allows eyes-free navigation, making it easier for users to keep track of where they are in a document.”
The Human Media Lab has now one-upped themselves by producing two new pieces of technology with unusual displays. The first is the Holoflex, which can render holographic images through being bent and manipulated by the user. No 3D glasses are required to operate the phone and take advantage of its holographic properties.
The second new piece of technology is the MagicWand, a device with a fully cylindrical interface. According to Vertegaal, “you can rotate MagicWand and see a gaming character inside it from all sides, as if it were 3D. Smartphones are flat and not ergonomically suitable for use as a controller or pointing device. MagicWand is the first handheld with a 340 degree high resolution display to have the regular physical affordances of a pointer stick.”
Potential consumers shouldn’t get too excited yet, as this technology is still a few years away from being ready for commercial production.