Nokia's Morph, a rare concept


Nokia's Morph, a rare concept

Is Nokia's concept phone, Morph, a rare bird of flight? By design standards and innovation alone the answer is a resounding yes, but what is perhaps even more remarkable about the stretchable, flexible, self-cleaning device is that it's just a concept phone. And yet, it's already gotten more ink than any other handset commercially launched this year.

Artists and design firms release concept phone ideas everyday: Textually does a good job of rounding up the more interesting designs, but I can't remember the last time a concept phone garnered its own full-length write-up in the New York Times. The Morph concept phone even has its own exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Nokia Research Center and the University of Cambridge announced the partnership that led to Morph last March, but "elements" of the Morph could find their way into commercially available mobile phones within the next seven years, according to the partners' press release. These elements would only be available on high-end handheld devices at first but the nanotechnologies that would enable Morph could lead to low cost manufacturing solutions and the integration of complex functionality at a low price.

While it's clear that today's high-end feature phones are the results of manufacturers spending more time and money on design, Morph is still in a class of its own when it comes to most concept phones.

This week saw the Toaster Phone (photo) concept from Brazilian designer Renata Quintela and the Softphone (photo) concept from designer Quian Jiang that makes use of cotton fabric. Last week brought the Rubik's Cube-like Coco Chanel (photo) concept phone and the boring-looking Edge (photo) concept phone by designer Chris Owens.

Nokia didn't stoop to conceive a phone that looks like a toaster or fashion a squeezable phone out of cotton, and for its efforts the Morph now has its own exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Too modern for 2008, but if Nokia has its way, we could be stretching and flexing our phones by 2015. -Brian