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In The Fold: 10 Futuristic Folding + Flexible Computer Ideas
By Delana,
Web Urbanist, 30 April 2013.

The concept of computers has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. They have gone from room-sized monstrosities to desktop beasts to laptop machines to tiny powerhouses that we can carry in our pockets. But it would be a mistake to think that computers are done evolving. The materials we use to build computers are constantly changing, and their form factors will undoubtedly change rapidly as well. These concepts show just what might be possible in the very near future of computer design.

1. Napkin PC Concept

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Operating on the idea that most great ideas start as napkin sketches, designer Avery Holleman decided to design a computer system that looks just like a group of napkins. A stack of napkin-like screens and a set of “pens” are kept in a handy holder, allowing collaborators to simply grab one of each and sketch out an idea.

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The holder is actually a base station and computer, allowing all of the processing to be done in the case so that the “napkins” themselves can remain small and easy to handle. A couple of napkins can roll up and be secured with a kind of napkin ring that holds two pens, letting the system go with you to impromptu meetings or anywhere great ideas might strike.

2. Feno Foldable Notebook

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Designer Niels Van Hoof had a compelling vision for the modern laptop: why not eliminate wasted space and make the screen itself fold up to make the entire machine smaller? The screen would use OLED technology to let it fold in half without damaging the display.

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The keyboard could then shrink significantly, allowing just enough room for the keys and eliminating the vast amounts of space under the keyboard that is usually dedicated to the trackpad. A pop-out mouse takes care of that, letting you navigate naturally and then store the mouse inside the laptop’s body when you’re done.

3. Macbook Touch Concept

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Designer Tommaso Gecchelin absolutely had his finger on the pulse of the industry when he came up with his Macbook Touch concept several years ago. He envisioned a computer that could be a notebook when needed but also completely hinge around the other way to become a two-sided table-top display. And for those times when you only need a tablet, the notebook swings all the way open to give you a single usable touchscreen surface. In the years since he designed this incredible machine, a lot of the technologies he predicted for it have become not only possible but commonplace.

4. B-Membrane Computer

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At first glance you might expect this bizarre device from designer Won-Seok Lee to be a speaker, or a lamp, or even an ashtray. But surprisingly, it is actually an innovative computer unlike any the world has ever seen. It requires no monitor because it just projects its display onto a nearby flat surface. A curved touch keyboard occupies the bottom portion of the machine when it’s in computer mode. When the computer portion of the gadget is switched off, the device doubles as a pretty sweet mood lamp.

5. iWeb Laptop with Folding Keyboard

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When netbooks became popular, the biggest complaint people had about the miniature laptops was their impossibly tiny keyboards. Designer Yang Yongchang designed a computer that had a small screen, but a gate-folding keyboard that extended out into standard size. Of course, one thing about portable computers is that people tend to actually like the larger screens…so although it’s a good idea we don’t expect to see this type of computer out in the wild anytime soon.

6. Rolltop Computer Concept

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What if taking your laptop along with you were as easy as slinging your yoga bag over your shoulder? The creative minds at Orkin Design conceived of a laptop that would be unlike anything else out there. The rolled-up machine consists entirely of an OLED screen; when you want to use it as a laptop you simply fold up the top portion to be used as a screen. The bottom portion becomes a touch-screen keyboard.

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The core that the Rolltop Computer is rolled around becomes the power source for the machine. When you’re done working and ready to move on, you just roll the whole thing up again, put the strap over your shoulder and go, knowing that you’ve got a crazily unique laptop on which to do your work…and play Candy Crush.

7. Sony Nextep Computer Concept

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Wearable technology is a field that’s sure to take off in the near future as we figure out how to make electronics smaller and more durable. The Sony Nextep concept from Hiromi Kiriki is a computer that would be worn on the wrist like a bracelet. A screen displays important information or decorative designs when the device is idle. But when it’s unfolded and laid flat, a keyboard emerges from the case almost like magic, letting you use a nearly full-size computer that also just happens to be a fashionable accessory.

8. Flexbook Concept

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The Flexbook from designer Hao-Chun Huang is a digital device with multiple personalities. By folding, unfolding, swivelling and moving it, the Flexbook can change between a tablet, laptop, PDA (remember those?) and gaming device. It’s a wild departure from the form factors we are used to for these objects, but it could very well be the future of all-in-one, on-the-go technology.

9. Displax Flexible Anywhere Display

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Although touch screens seem to be part of nearly every new gadget made today, there are still plenty of places we could add them. How about your kitchen table, or a wall, or even the window of the bus you take to work? Portuguese company Displax is developing a product that could turn any non-metallic surface into a touch screen. The product is called Skin, and at a mere 100 microns thick it has the potential to turn the entire world into one humongous touch screen.

10. The Flat-Pack Hiding Mouse

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It’s not only computers being folded up into new shapes and functionality - even mice are getting in on the action. This incredible mouse from designer Taewon Hwang fits into the CD drive of a laptop computer - a feature most people hardly ever use anyway - and then pops out, origami-style, into a fully-functional mouse when it’s needed.

[Source: Web Urbanist. Edited.]



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