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Intel Envisions Shape-Shifting Smartphones 79

An anonymous reader writes "It's not sci-fi, but rather advanced robotics research which is leading Intel to envision shape-shifting smartphones. 'Imagine what you would do with this material,' says Jason Campbell, a senior researcher at Intel's Pittsburgh Lab who's working in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. 'If you want to carry the device, you'd make it as small as possible by making it pack itself as densely as possible. When you go to surf the Web, you're going to make it big.' The material being studied is transparent silicon-dioxide hemispheres, which can roll around each other under electrical control to create different shapes. The lab has built 6-inch long actuators, which it's working to reduce to 1-mm tube-sized prototypes. When will we see a shape-shifting phone? 'In terms of me being able to buy it, that's a difficult forecasting problem, because I have to guess about manufacturing costs,' Campbell said. 'I won't do that. But we hope the science will be proved out in three to five years.'"
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Intel Envisions Shape-Shifting Smartphones

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  • 'I won't do that. But we hope the science will be proved out in three to five years.'

    I think that's an overly optimistic figure and I wish he would have commented on the date it would hit shelves as it's likely many decades into the future.

    I'm probably captain obvious for saying this but as the complexity of our inventions reaches new highs (and requires more teams of people than just inventor-geniuses) it may increase the amount of time between inventing and actually marketing the product.

    You may be able to argue that this has always been a long time with people like Charles Babbage or Nikola Tesla but I suspect it's going to get to the point where a lab researcher invents a way of doing something that does not hit everyday usage until well after his/her death. The ability to cheaply fabricate a device may be a bigger feat than development of the device. I seem to recall from some book (Three Cups of Tea?) that a man who worked on fabrication of computer chips & boards thought of a novel way to accomplish the task when he was in his shower and noticed how water ran off his skin. He somehow applied this to making computer boards more cheaply and effectively ... and subsequently became very very rich (patents). A utilitarian might argue that this is the way it should be.

  • Re:ringtone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday March 09, 2009 @11:04AM (#27121395)

    I think it's better to risk someone not getting it (and then get a second run "WHOOSH" joke out of it) than to non-comically explain a joke immediately after telling it . . .

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire