Unveiling the Technology in Flexible and Bendable Smartphones

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S lim display devices and smartphones that bend and fold may sound futuristic, but they could be coming in just a few months, if a new report turns out to be true. This innovation started from the design and concept of Flexible electronic paper (e-paper). Though this form of displays has a long history and was attempted by many companies, it is only recently that this technology began to see commercial implementations slated for mass production to be used in consumer electronic devices such as the smartphone.

flexible smartphone

In May 2011, Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Canada introduced PaperPhone, the first flexible smartphone, in partnership with the Arizona State University Flexible Display Center. PaperPhone used 5 bend sensors to implement navigation of the user interface through bend gestures of corners and sides of the display. In January 2013, the Human Media Lab introduced the first flexible tablet PC, PaperTab, in collaboration with Plastic Logic and Intel Labs, at CES. PaperTab is a multi-display environment in which each display represents a window, app or computer document. Displays are tracked in 3D to allow multidisplay operations, such as collate to enlarge the display space, or pointing with one display onto another to pull open a document file. In April 2013 in Paris, the Human Media Lab, in collaboration with Plastic Logic, unveiled the world’s first actuated flexible smartphone prototype, MorePhone.

” MorePhone actuates its body to notify users upon receiving a phone call or message.”

flexible display

In this article we shall look into some known manufacturers in the mobile and electronic industry who has incorporated these technology in their products.

  1. Samsung Bendable Smartphone

    Samsung is aiming to launch a Note smartphone with a screen that folds next year, which would likely be the first available to feature such an innovation.

    samsung note fordable

    Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile business, said the company is setting its eyes on 2018 to release a smartphone using its bendable OLED screen technology, but he said there are several hurdles it has to overcome, leaving room to push back the release if those problems are not solved.

    Koh said: “As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year. When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”

    Analysts said mass-producing a foldable phone with top tech features and a thin body will take time. Koh did not elaborate what the problems facing consumerisation of the foldable screen technology were.

    When Samsung will release its first foldable phone, previously dubbed the “Galaxy X”, has been a question in the market since Samsung first showcased a flexible display prototype called Youm in 2013. For at least the past two years, there have been rumours that Samsung is close to showing off its first folding smartphones.

  2. LG foldable 77-inch OLED TV

    LG has unveiled a new 77-inch 4K Ultra HD flexible and transparent OLED display that can be rolled up to a radius of 80mm without affecting the picture. It’s the first time a display like it has ever been produced.

    Lg 77-inch flexible OLED TV

    LG’s latest creation is also 40 per cent transparent, so while it won’t be sitting pride of place in your living room anytime soon; it has its sights set on digital signage, smart desks and, like in the picture below, virtual mirrors. However, the company hasn’t given any indication as to when such a display will be commercialized.

    It’s not the first time LG has produced a flexible OLED screen, but with each release the size gets bigger. The company’s first example was an 18-inch flexible OLED panel, released in 2014, followed by a 55-inch display with 40 per cent transparency in 2016.

  3. Nokia Kinetic Device

    Hidden within Nokia’s Future Lounge, this very flexible display offers up a glimpse of what sort of thing we could possibly be dealing with when we roll up to Nokia World in 2021. The prototype Nokia Kinetic Device, including its display, can be flexed across both the vertical and horizontal planes — with bending and twisting motions controlling the interface.

    Nokia Kinetic OLED Display

    If you bend the screen towards yourself, it acts as a selection function, or zooms in on any pictures you’re viewing. In music mode, you can navigate, play and pause with the tactile interface. It’s still a way off from arriving on phones, though Nokia is aiming to whet developers’ appetites with this prototype. We may have seen some twisty interfaces already, but nothing packing a four-inch screen and built-in functionality like this.

  4. Lenovo Bendable Phone that can be worn like a Wrist Watch


    Lenovo has been toying with the idea of foldable displays for some time now, showcasing a number of concept products that can be bent into different form factors at its various conventions in recent months.

    lenovo foldable smartphone

    None of those gadgets are really close to becoming commercially available, but the Chinese tech firm seems to be making progress on some of them either way.

    At its Lenovo Tech World event last week, for instance, the company showcased a functional version of the Folio, a concept device it first unveiled last year.

    The Folio is a 7.8-inch Android tablet with a hinge in its middle that allows the whole thing to fold into a 5.5-inch, dual-screen smartphone-style device.!

    The current Folio runs on Android 7.0 Nougat, sports a 1,920 x 1,440 resolution display, and uses a Snapdragon 800 chipset. It supports eSIM, so it can make calls. The chipset would be severely dated for a device launching in 2018.


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