The Cubimorph's interlocking cubes feature individual touchscreens on each of the six module faces. A hinge-mounted turntable mechanism allows the touchscreen cubes to shift and flip, similar to a Rubik's Cube, but also assume different shapes. Devotees of 1980s time-wasters will recognize this as similar to the Rubik's Snake.
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The current design is essentially a very early prototype for what researchers hope will be a true shapeshifting mobile device, somewhere down the line.
"Cubimorph is the first step towards a real modular interactive device," says lead researcher Anne Roudaut from the University of Bristol, on the project page.
"Much work still needs to be achieved to put such devices in the end-user hands but we hope our work will create discussion between the human computer interaction and robotics communities that could be of benefit to one another other."
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The Bristol research team, in collaboration with contributors from the Universities of Purdue, Lancaster and Sussex, will officially present the Cubimorph at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Stockholm.