PaperFold Flexible Smartphone Demoed in Toronto, Canada

May 5, 2014 - Written By Jeremiah Nelson

Last week, a professor and a student from Queen’s University in Toronto, Canada, unveiled what they believe could be the future of smartphones. The professor, Roel Vertegaal, and the student, Antonio Gomes, showed off their prototype foldable smartphone last week. They even put together a hands-on video for it, which you can find below. You should watch the video from start to finish. It’s pretty impressive.

The foldable smartphone prototype, called a PaperFold, has three e-paper screens that display images and text in monochrome. The screens can be unfolded when you’re using the device and then folded in when you’re done to make it easier to carry. What’s cool is that the displays are interchangeable. They can be removed, or new ones can be added, turning the smartphone into a tiny laptop or something similar to a tri-fold brochure.

PaperFold also prints 3-D sculptures. The flexible displays can be folded into the shape of a globe, and if you’re in the Google Maps app, the unit will automatically launch Google Earth when you do that. From there, you just pick a building and then fold the PaperFold into the shape of that building. It will then 3-D print that building for you.

Obviously PaperFold is a one-of-a-kind unit that is in the early prototype stages. Real world uses for a device like this could be endless, but there are drawbacks here. The e-paper displays are not what consumers expect from their screens, these days. The upside of these displays is flexibility. They can be shaped into almost anything you want. Unlike Samsung’s flexible displays, PaperFold’s e-paper displays are being demoed on a smartphone. Samsung hasn’t made it that far, yet. Foldable display technology isn’t the issue, though. The problem for Samsung and other OEMs has been making the rest of the device components flexible too.

PaperFold is an impressive piece of hardware, and shows where smartphones and portable devices could be headed in the future. Check out the video below and drops us a line in the comments to let us know what you think.