Stretchable phones of the future

Mobile phones of the future will be able to stretch and flex, Nokia believes. They could be worn as wrist bands or used as keyboards, and able to twist into different shapes.

"Nokia Research Center is looking at ways to reinvent the form and function of mobile devices; the Morph concept shows what might be possible," said Dr. Bob Iannucci, chief technology officer, Nokia. Morph is a joint concept developed by Nokia Research Center and the University of Cambridge, and was launched alongside the 'Design and the Elastic Mind' exhibition, on view from 24 February to 12 May, 2008, at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

Dr Tapani Ryhanen, head of the NRC Cambridge UK laboratory, Nokia, commented: "We hope that this combination of art and science will showcase the potential of nanoscience to a wider audience. The research we are carrying out is fundamental to this as we seek a safe and controlled way to develop and use new materials."

Morph is a concept that demonstrates how future mobile devices might be stretchable and flexible, allowing the user to transform their mobile device into radically different shapes. It demonstrates the functionality that nanotechnology might be capable of delivering: flexible materials, transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces.

Professor Mark Welland, head of the Department of Engineering's Nanoscience Group at the University of Cambridge and university director of Nokia-Cambridge collaboration added: "Developing the Morph concept with Nokia has provided us with a focus that is both artistically inspirational but, more importantly, sets the technology agenda for our joint nanoscience research that will stimulate our future work together."

The partnership between Nokia and the University of Cambridge was announced in March, 2007 - an agreement to work together on an extensive and long-term programme of joint research projects. NRC has established a research facility at the University's West Cambridge site and collaborates with several departments - initially the Nanoscience Center and Electrical Division of the Engineering Department - on projects that, to begin with, are centered on nanotechnology.

Elements of Morph might be available to integrate into handheld devices within seven years, though initially only at the high-end. However, nanotechnology may one day lead to low cost manufacturing solutions, and offers the possibility of integrating complex functionality at a low price.

Image: A Nokia concept phone in wrist wearable mode

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