Mobile enthusiasts have been dreaming of wibbly-wobbly smartphone displays for years now, but the said technology has always seemed frustratingly out of reach. Though we’ve seen smartphone manufacturers come up with devices with flexible screens in the past, these products and their commercial viability are yet to find it in the mainstream market, so to speak. However, researchers from Queens University in Canada have just come up with a prototype that has the potential to be a game changer.
The device is called ReFlex and it looks pretty amazing. Its LG OLED display not only sports a 720p resolution, it is also completely flexible. To enable the ReFlex to detect and respond to flexing, the development team from the university integrated bend sensors and haptic feedback into the device. Running Android 4.4, the ReFlex has most of its hardware placed in its non-flexible casing found on either side of its display.
To demonstrate the practical applications of the ReFlex’s flexible display, users showed how the said flexible display can be used to pull back the slingshot in Angry Birds or turn pages in comics or e-books. But the most interesting thing is that the device’s haptic feedback allows you to feel the tension of the slingshot being pulled in Angry Birds or the page being turned when reading comics. According to Roel Vertegaal, director of Queen’s Human Media Lab, the interface offered by the ReFlex delivers a more natural kind of reading experience. In fact, the bending motion as you flex the device almost replicates the way you page through a physical book or document.
At a conference in Netherlands, researchers are demonstrating their work and all agree that this kind of technology could hit the mainstream and be available in commercial devices by 2021. Other sources however believe that this could land quite a bit sooner – which is what we are hoping for.