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In future, smartphones could have shape-shifting displays and physical keyboards

By Kenny Yeo - on 28 Apr 2023, 2:06pm

In future, smartphones could have shape-shifting displays and physical keyboards

This technology could enable Apple's Dynamic Island physically raising itself off the display, making it even more prominent and easy to interact with.

Researchers are working on an amazing piece of display technology that could enable displays of the future to change their physical shape and create notifications that could physically rise up from the display itself.

This piece of technology is currently being developed by the Future Interfaces Group at Carnegie Mellon University and it's being dubbed as "embedded electroosmotic pumps for scalable shape displays."

To change the shape of the display and cause it to rise, the group is proposing the use of tiny hydraulics-based pumps that can be positioned behind an OLED panel. These pumps would gently push on the back of the OLED panel, causing it to rise. You can see how it works in the demo video below:


Apart from using it to create raised notifications, the researchers also said that it could allow for more engaging and dynamic forms of interaction such as raised power and volume buttons, thereby reducing the need for physical buttons and switches.

Researchers at the group say the pumps could be made to be as small as 2mm in diameter and could react individually and support very fast update rates – meaning they can react to inputs precisely and quickly. With these qualities, it's plausible for smartphone makers to use these pumps to create physical touchscreen keyboards.

While this all sounds very enticing and exciting, it's still early days for this technology and it remains to be seen if it can actually be commercially viable.

Source: TechCrunch

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