Shapeshifting device of wonders: the Nokia Morph

The Morph is a concept device designed by Nokia and the United Kingdom's University of Cambridge that explores the future of portable gadgetry when married with nanotechnology, and its creators really went wild. It can take various shapes such as a tablet, handset, headset and wristwatch — thanks to the morphing nano-bits composing it — and has an impressive, unheard of list of features: it's self cleaning, durable, changes the feel of its surface to your liking, and is covered with grass-like fibers that absorbs energy from the sun. The fibers also allow it to "sense" the world around it, providing you with information about your surroundings.

Ever wonder what technology designers see when they dream at night? This is it. You know the drill — explore the gallery below or jump right into Nokia's six minute presentation above. Press release after the jump.

From the press release:

Nokia and University of Cambridge launch the Morph – a nanotechnology concept device

New York, US and Espoo, Finland — Morph, a joint nanotechnology concept, developed by Nokia Research Center (NRC) and the University of Cambridge (UK) - was launched today alongside the “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition, on view from February 24 to May 12, 2008, at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Morph features in both the exhibition catalog and on MoMA’s official website.

Morph is a concept that demonstrates how future mobile devices might be stretchable and flexible, allowing the user to transform their mobile device into radically different shapes. It demonstrates the ultimate functionality that nanotechnology might be capable of delivering: flexible materials, transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces.

Dr. Tapani Ryhanen, Head of the NRC Cambridge UK laboratory, Nokia, commented: “We hope that this combination of art and science will showcase the potential of nanoscience to a wider audience. The techniques we are developing might one day mean new possibilities in terms of the design and function of mobile devices. The research we are carrying out is fundamental to this as we seek a safe and controlled way to develop and use new materials.“

Professor Mark Welland, Head of the Department of Engineering’s Nanoscience Group at the University of Cambridge and University Director of Nokia-Cambridge collaboration added “Developing the Morph concept with Nokia has provided us with a focus that is both artistically inspirational but, more importantly, sets the technology agenda for our joint nanoscience research that will stimulate our future work together.”

The partnership between Nokia and the University of Cambridge was announced in March, 2007 - an agreement to work together on an extensive and long term programme of joint research projects. NRC has established a research facility at the University’s West Cambridge site and collaborates with several departments – initially the Nanoscience Center and Electrical Division of the Engineering Department – on projects that, to begin with, are centered on nanotechnology.
Elements of Morph might be available to integrate into handheld devices within 7 years, though initially only at the high-end. However, nanotechnology may one day lead to low cost manufacturing solutions, and offers the possibility of integrating complex functionality at a low price.