3 February 2012
Foldable displays have long been talked about as a convenient way to make larger displays more portable and easier to slip into your pocket. And in 2008 they very nearly even made it to market with PolymerVision’s Readius.
But researcher Juergen Steimle reckons that perhaps we’re missing a trick. Steimle has recently left the Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany, to join the Fluid Interfaces group at MIT’s Media Lab. He has developed a range of ways to use the folds in foldable displays to create some quite novel forms of interaction.
Steimle created projection-based display using six overhead infrared cameras and two high-definition digital projectors to track the movement of and project onto a passive white tablet, which the user holds. With a number of different designs, Steimle created a range of tablets containing sets of spring-loaded, reversible hinges so that they could be folded like a book or a pamphlet.
By monitoring the way the tablets are folded, Steimle’s system uses the act of folding and the resulting form of the tablet as a means of interaction. So hold the tablet flat and it is treated as one display, like an iPad. Start to bend it in the middle like a book and it will switch to a two display mode.
Steimle also uses the back of the tablet. So close the tablet like a book and menu options can be displayed on the “cover” which when selected will alter the contents inside the book. And because the cameras are able to detect the angle of rotation of the hinges it is possible to even use them to adjust things like the colour, contrast or volume.
Steimle will be presenting the work later this month at the Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction Conference in Kingston, Ontario.