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Shape-shifting mobile prototype is half smartphone, half Rubik's Cube

The Cubimorph, cooked up by academics at UK and US universities, is a prototype made up of folding cubes that can form themselves into a variety of shapes.

The future of phones could be shape-shifting blocks that transform in your hand -- at least according to one prototype mobile gadget that's set to be demonstrated soon.

The Cubimorph is a chain of cubes, each of which is capable of swivelling in any direction automatically, to form a blocky lump in any shape. Touch screens could eventually cover every facet of the device, while one possible use, its creators suggest, could be a smartphone that morphs into a game controller when a gaming app is launched.

As the above video demonstrates, not only could the Cubimorph change itself into any shape, it could select the best morphing route algorithmically, avoiding a cumbersome configuration like a straight line, or one that risks trapping its user's fingers.

The Cubimorph is the work of Dr. Anne Roudaut from the University of Bristol's Computer Science department, created in collaboration with academics from Purdue, Sussex and Lancaster universities. It'll be shown off in primitive form at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, which kicks off this week in Stockholm.