updated 01:40 pm EST, Fri January 25, 2008
Motorola Rollable Phone
Motorola is developing a cellphone technology that could allow the display or even the entire control mechanism to fold or roll away, according to a recently published patent filing. The application for a User Interface System claims to have solved the problem of such ultra-thin interfaces usable by backing the surface with an electrorheological fluid; when the display or keypad needs to be used, sending electricity through the fluid immediately stiffens to generate a flat surface for viewing or typing. Removing the current would revert the display or controls to their original state to be tucked away.
As the method would only need wiring for the controls in the display, the advancement could be built relatively cheaply or using technology that would not fit in the folding or rolling segment; a separate unit could contain the processors, battery, and other components needed to drive the device. Completely flexible touchscreens would be possible with the invention, the company claims.
Although just published, the filing was originally made in July 2006 and opens the possibility of implementing the technology in a production device, though no leaks so far have suggested the imminent release of handsets or other handhelds that would use the technology. However, a patent grant would effectively bar other companies from using similar processes for their own phones or handhelds. [via Unwired View]