Bottom line: Flexible displays feel like a technology ahead of its time for the simple fact that, as this device demonstrates, we still have no clue how to implement them in a practical manner.

Researchers at Queen’s University have developed a roll-up tablet with a flexible touchscreen display inspired by ancient scrolls.

MagicScroll features a 7.5-inch 2K resolution flexible display that’s rolled around a 3D-printed cylindrical body housing the device’s processing hardware. Rotary wheels at each end of the tube allow the user to scroll through information on the screen. When the user comes across a bit of information they want to expand upon, the display can be unrolled and functions like a touchscreen table.

The device can also be used as a phone, dictation device or a pointing device. There are even robotic actuators in the rotary wheels that allow the scroll to spin in place when receiving a notification.

Its creators say the light weight and cylindrical design make it easier to hold than a traditional tablet and when rolled up, it fits in your pocket.

Dr. Roel Vertegaal, who led research on the project, said it is allowing them to further examine notions that “screens don’t have to be flat” and that “anything can become a screen.” They ultimately hope the device can be made into something as small as a pen that you could carry in your shirt pocket.

MagicScroll will be presented at the MobileHCI, a conference on human-computer interaction with mobile devices and services, next month in Barcelona.