The inventors call this PaperPhone, but the concept can also be used in other portable devices, like tablet computers. "This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper. You interact with it by bending it into a cellphone, flipping the corner to turn pages or writing on it with a pen. It can be best described as a flexible iPhone", commented creator Roel Vertegaal, the director of the Human Media Lab.
From what we see in the pictures and video below, this thing is actually running some sort of Android, and the idea about flexing the screen around to invoke actions from the mobile OS can certainly come in handy - if you are wearing gloves, for instance. In the research paper PDF there appears to be a whole set of suggested bend gesture movements for various navigational functions, based on user input, so you can hit the source link for some bedtime reading on the matter.
While we are seeing some pretty rigid contraption to be attached to the PaperPhone, where presumably some of the non-elastic circuitry is, the flexible E-ink display, which transfers its shape-shifting into software commands, is a step in the right direction for our dream future of bendable smartphones. We'd still place our screen type preferences on Samsung, with its foldable AMOLED screen concept that doesn't leave a crease in the middle, but perhaps the bending gesture idea can co-exist in concepts like the Samsung Skin, coupled with those flexible transparent batteries as well.
source: HumanMediaLab via LATimes