Will smartphones in 2021 bend and flex like a paperback book?
Whether it's the curvededges of Samsung's Edge devices or Apple's 3D Touch, smartphonemanufacturers are always looking for ways to provide users with novelexperiences. Now, researchers at Queen's University's Human Media Lab have taken this to another level, creating a prototype devicecalled ReFlex, with a flexible display and advanced tactile feedback.
Central to the new device are what theresearchers call bend gestures. Bending the display down to the rightcauses virtual pages to flip from the right to the left of thedisplay, just as they would if you were holding a book. The more youbend the panel, the faster the pages flick by.
The concept handset also has highly detailed vibrations across the display, designed to enhancethe sensation of flipping through the pages. According to theresearchers, those vibrations, combined with the passive forcefeedback of bending the panel, create a realistic simulation ofphysical forces. In other words, it really fells like you're flippingthrough the pages of a book.
Uses for the bending tech could go farbeyond flipping through virtual books, with the team suggesting thatit could also enhance gaming. For example, users could bend thescreen back to stretch the slingshot when playing Angry Birds (if anyone still plays that),with a tactile jolt being sent through the phone when it's released.
The ReFlex's internals are mounted tothe side of a flexible 720p (very low-res by today's standards) multitouch OLED display from LG, and the deviceruns the also-dated Android 4.4 KitKit.
It's still very early days for theconcept device, but the team is optimistic about the tech's future,believing that flexible smartphones could be in the hands ofconsumers in as little as five years. For now, you can take a look at theReFlex in action in the video below.
Source: Queens University