Researchers create Rubik's cube-like touchscreen display

Imagine a smartphone made of building blocks.

While modular smartphones like Fairphone or Google's Project Ara are still works-in-progress, a group of researchers from the University of Bristol's Interaction Group have designed a slick new reconfigurable form for touchscreen displays. The Cubimorph, as BIG calls it, is a single display built out of smaller, six-sided display cubes that are daisy-chained together and can be repositioned not unlike a Rubik's cube with a little more flexibility.

In a case proposed by the research team, a device like a flat smartphone could be folded and reconfigured into the shape of a game controller. Or, in a less practical example, you could simply roll your phone out into a rectangular log with a postage-stamp sized display on one end. For users who were never very good at spatial reasoning or origami, an algorithm will help determine the best way to twist and fold the screen into the desired shape.

While the device is still in the awkward prototype phase at this point, the research team will present it to a panel at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Stockholm later this week.