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ReFlex is World’s First Smartphone with Functioning Wireless Flexible Display



Canada might have given us another thing, after the BlackBerry, and it’s going to change how we use smartphones these days. Scientists at Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in the country has developed what appears to be world’s first wireless flexible smartphone, which allows users to feel the buzz by bending the apps installed on the device. We all are fond of futuristic technologies and to make these technologies real, university scientists do a lot of hard work and looks like after working on for quite a time, the team at Queen’s university has done it.

In a video released by the Human Media Lab, a computer science laboratory specializing in user interface research showcases the ReFlex, their wireless flexible smartphone. The full-color, high-resolution smartphone combines the multi-touch functionality with bend input. It allows users to experience physical, tactile feedback through bend gestures; it is a way of interacting with apps.

The director of Human Media Lab, Roel Vertegall (School of Computing) states, “This represents a completely new way of physical interaction with flexible smartphones.” When you bend the smartphone on the right, pages will flip through the fingers from right to left, as they would in a book, such as you can see in the video below. Once you stress the bend more, it increases the speed of flipping pages. Via detailed vibration, users would feel a sensation of the pages moving through their fingertips. It should empower users to keep track of where they are in a document, i.e. eye-free navigation.

Reflex uses a high definition 720 resolution LG Display Flexible OLED touch screen, which is powered by an Android 4.4 Kitkat board mounted to the side of the display. The bend sensors are placed behind the screen; they sense the force with which user bends the screen. It is made available to apps allowing them to use it as inputs. There is also a voice coil that empowers the phone to simulate forces and friction via highly detailed vibrations of the display.

“This allows for the most accurate physical simulation of interacting with virtual data possible on a smartphone today,” says Dr. Vertegaal.

It can been seen in the video when a user plays games like Angry Birds with ReFlex; they would have to bend the display to stretch the slingshot. As the rubber band is expanded, users will have an experience such as stretching a real rubber band. And when released the band snaps, it will send a jolt through the phone and thereby sending the bird across the screen.

According to the predictions of the Dr. Vertegaal, the bendable, flexible smartphones will be in the hands of consumers within five years. The ReFlex prototype was showcased at the tenth annual conference on Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI) Conference in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. It is the world’s premier conference on tangible human-computer interaction.

The commercial production can’t be expected sooner, but we would like brands like LG to focus really on making these kinds of smartphones possible in near future. As far the flexible displays go, the company is already pioneering in this field, since the ReFlex uses LG’s flexible OLED display. At the CES Expo this year in January, the company did unveil an 18-inch foldable display that is thinner like paper. We are looking forward to he these displays make way to our smartphones.


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