The sci-fi dream of flexible electronics is on its way—it’s just taking a while to arrive. But this new prototype flexible smartphone, that responds to the way it’s bent and twisted, at least hints at how your future phone may behave.
Created by researchers from Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab, the device uses a 720p LG Display Flexible OLED touch screen, with bend sensors and haptic feedback motors built into the rear. At one end sits a solid board, housing a system-on-a-chip that runs Android 4.4. Called ReFlex, the device provides a pretty compelling look at what the first wave of truly flexible phones will look like.
In these gifs, you can see how physical gestures allow users to interact with the hardware, as Roel Vertegaal, one of the researchers, explains in a press release:
When this smartphone is bent down on the right, pages flip through the fingers from right to left, just like they would in a book. More extreme bends speed up the page flips. Users can feel the sensation of the page moving through their fingertips via a detailed vibration of the phone. This allows eyes-free navigation, making it easier for users to keep track of where they are in a document.. When a user plays the ‘Angry Birds’ game with ReFlex, they bend the screen to stretch the sling shot. As the rubber band expands, users experience vibrations that simulate those of a real stretching rubber band. When released, the band snaps, sending a jolt through the phone and sending the bird flying across the screen.
It sounds pretty compelling, to be honest. The team will present the new prototype at the Conference on Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction in Eindhoven later today. The technical details of the projects are described in this paper.