Wonderful Engineering

This Touchscreen Tablet MagicScroll Can Bend And Roll Out Like A Papyrus Scroll

A lot of tech companies and researchers are working on flexible display technology. Developing this tech will mean that the smartphone of the future has been designed. Recently, researchers have produced something unique. A team of researchers at the Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab has developed a touchscreen prototype which is half a tablet and a rolled up manuscript. The MagicScroll is inspired by an ancient scroll which can be found at an archeological dig site. It is a cylinder which can be unrolled into a 7.5-inch touchscreen. You can merely twist a wheel on one end of the cylinder to scroll the screen. Instead of dragging on the touchscreen to scroll down, you can unfurl the scroll to see the lower half at the same time.

Roel Vertegaal, the director of the lab, said in a statement, “We were inspired by the design of ancient scrolls because their form allows for a more natural, uninterrupted experience of long visual timelines. Another source of inspiration was the old Rolodex filing systems that were used to store and browse contact cards. The MagicScroll’s scroll wheel allows for infinite scroll action for quick browsing through long lists. Unfolding the scroll is a tangible experience that gives a full-screen view of the selected item. Picture browsing through your Instagram timeline, messages or LinkedIn contacts this way!” Despite having the tricky design for which the developers needed a 3D printer, the display gives an impressive 2K resolution.

One problem is that the entire scroll is a bit too large however it is still a prototype and improvements can be expected in the future. It will not be hard to bring the design to smaller devices once the design and technology are perfected. The team also claims that it already has an advantage over the current devices in the market. The phone is lightweight and easy to handle with a single hand and can quickly roll up to fit inside the pocket. Apart from an audio mic, the developers have also included a camera using which the MagicScroll can be controlled with gestures. There are some robotic actuators for the rotary wheels. Vertegaal added, “Eventually, we hope to design the device so that it can even roll into something as small as a pen that you could carry in your shirt pocket. More broadly, the MagicScroll project is also allowing us to examine notions further that screens don’t have to be flat and anything can become a screen.” The team aims that this technology can be applied to many consumer products in the future.