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Who would have ever thought that we will live to see a flexible, touch-screen tablet?

Well, scientists at the Queens University human media lab have unveiled the MagicScroll, the world’s first flexible touch-screen tablet inspired by ancient srolls. Dating back to ancient Egypt, scrolls served as the main medium for information storage as they were a logical solution for recording long texts, supporting the continuous nature of the written discourse.

Following this principle, MagicScroll portrays a seamless flexible screen that is set to push the boundaries of flexible device technology into a brand new territory.

Comprised of a high-resolution 7.5’’ 2K resolution flexible display, MagicScroll can be rolled and unrolled around a central, 3D-printed cylindrical body containing the device’s computerised inner-workings. The scrolling is achieved thanks to two rotary wheels at either end of the cylinder. If the users reach certain information that needs closer attention, the tablet can be completely unrolled, resulting in a larger tablet display.

The lightweight cylindrical body can fit a pocket when rolled and can be used as a phone. "We were inspired by the design of ancient scrolls because their form allows for a more natural, uninterrupted experience of long visual timelines," says Dr Vertegaal, professor of human-computer interaction and director of the Queen’s University human media lab.

"Another source of inspiration was the old Rolodex filing systems that were used to store and browse contact cards. the MagicScroll’s scroll wheel allows for infinite scroll action for quick browsing through long lists. Unfolding the scroll is a tangible experience that gives a full-screen view of the selected item. Picture browsing through your Instagram timeline, messages or LinkedIn contacts this way!"

"Eventually, our hope is to design the device so that it can even roll into something as small as a pen that you could carry in your shirt pocket," says Dr Vertegaal. More broadly, the MagicScroll project is also allowing us to further examine notions that "screens don’t have to be flat" and "anything can become a screen."

Have a look at the flexible touch-screen tablet, in action below.

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