Electronic Skin Changes Gadget Colors On the Fly

Remember when Leeloo painted her nails in many colors at the touch of a button in The Fifth Element? Yeah, me neither, I was too busy falling in love with Milla Jovovich. This invention, however, will make that possible.

What you are seeing in this image is a cellphone that has changed its color from purple to blue at the touch of a button. It can actually change to eight colors using an electric current, but it doesn't need power to stay in that color. Once it is changed, it remains that way.

This prototype uses a technology called cholesteric liquid crystal display (chLCD,) but treated in a special way to adapt its shape to any kind of surface. Using heat, three red, green, and blue layers of chLCD are shaped around whatever object you want. In between those layers there is a resin that seals the substrate, protecting the chLCD and making sure it doesn't break.

The company that makes it—Kent Displays—says that there's no practical limit to the pixel resolution of this kind of displays, and points out that, in the next version, it will be possible to display pixels in up to 4,000 different colors. Rainbow-colored iPod nano, here we come. [Nikkei via Ubergizmo]