Imagine that you’re playing an intense game of Angry Birds on your smartphone. Instead of just swiping as you prepare to unleash those birds on those evil pigs, you can actually stretch and flex your device just like you would a rubber band, and then feel it vibrate as you finally release the birds. That’s what researchers at the Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab are envisioning for consumers in a few year’s time. For now, they have been able to create the first “full-colour, high-resolution and wireless flexible smartphone” called ReFlex.
Yes, it is a phone that can deliberately flex and bend, and it’s actually unlike the “bendgate” issues that people have been having with new phones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices. Roel Vertegaal, the director at the Human Media Lab said that they wanted to create something that would let users physically interact with their smartphones like never before. They based their device on the 720p LG Display Flexible OLED touch screen with an Android 4.4 KitKat board mounted on the side.
Aside from the Angry Birds thing we described earlier (which sounds pretty awesome on paper), one other thing you can do with a flexible smartphone is use it like a flip book. According to the researchers, you will be able to “feel the sensation of the page moving through their fingertips” because of a vibration on the device. ReFlex also has a voice coil to simulate friction and forces, hence the highly detailed vibrations.
While their prototype does work, it’s another thing to have that mass produced. Dr. Vertegaal is estimating that this can become a working, commercial thing in about 5 years. For now, they will be unveiling ReFlex at the Conference on Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI) this week.