• North American Champion Speed Cuber Anthony Brooks and TV personality George Duran attend the Cake-Off At Liberty Science Center In Honor Of Erno Rubik's Birthday on July 11, 2014 in Jersey City City.

North American Champion Speed Cuber Anthony Brooks and TV personality George Duran attend the Cake-Off At Liberty Science Center In Honor Of Erno Rubik's Birthday on July 11, 2014 in Jersey City City. (Photo : Getty Images/Bennett Raglin)

A team of researchers from the University of Bristol's Interaction Group (BIG) have designed a prototype a touchscreen that can be repositioned like a Rubik's cube. The touchsreen contains six flexible display cubes that are chained together.

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The BIG project, dubbed Cubimorph, is an interactive, modular device that has touchscreen on all its six faces. The device uses hinge-mounted turntable technique to reposition itself in the hands of its user.

The entire vision of the project is to create a programmable matter wherein the interactive devices such as smartphones can reconfigure itself into any shape to fit in the requirement. For example, the idea is to create a smartphone that can be re-shaped to form a functional gaming console when required.

Cubimorph is a result of a collaboration between Dr. Anne Roudau of the University of Bristol and academics from Lancaster, Sussex and Purdue universities in the US. Even though the prototype of the device is still in the initial stage, the researchers are planning to present their idea in front of a panel at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which will kick off this week in Stockholm.

The Cubimorph not only changes itself into any shape that an individual desire, it also selects the best morphing route with the help of an algorithm automatically. That is, for users who find origami or spacial reasoning difficult, there is an algorithm that can help them find out a better way to fold their screen in the shape they want.

The algorithm feature enables Cubimorph to avoid configuration that might leave it's user's fingers trapped or other cumbersome configurations. At the conference in Stockholm, the researchers are expected to show three Cubimorph prototypes that demonstrate key aspects associated with it, including probabilistic roadmap algorithm, miniaturization and embedded touchscreens and turntable hinges.

"Cubimorph is the first step towards a real modular interactive device," Roudau said, in a press statement. "Much work still needs to be achieved to put such devices in the end-user hands but we hope our work will create discussion between the human computer interaction and robotics communities that could be of benefit to one another other."

The following video explains how Cubimorph functions: