London, Oct 12 (ANI): Scientists have developed a squeezable cellphone - SqueezeBlock - using tiny motors built into the casing to mimic the behaviour of a spring.
The shape-shifter smartphone, developed by Shwetak Patel, a computer science and engineering researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues, would able to alter its appearance to signal an alert in situations where visual and audible cues won't do.
Pressure plates on the device detect how much force is being applied to the casing, while the motors control the amount of resistance exerted in response.
Because the resistance can be tweaked, the degree of squishability can be controlled by some aspect of the phone's status to provide some basic feedback without demanding the attention of eyes or ears.
For example, after the battery is fully charged, the phone might feel as taut as a glutton's post-lunch belly, while a gadget running on empty might be as easy to squeeze as a stress ball.
Alternatively, the stiffness could convey the number of emails marked as important that have arrived in a user's inbox.
"You can imagine squeezing the phone to give you a little bit of information on its status - ring level, messages - without having to look at it," New Scientist quoted Patel as saying.
In trials, Patel asked 10 people to test seven different uses of SqueezeBlock. They were able to distinguish up to four levels of squishiness, suggesting it could provide a basic way of checking battery charge, for instance.
The work was presented at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in New York last week. (ANI)