Grabbing the edges of this mobile device and bending it gives users the ability to select the functions they want.
A new cutting edge bendable smartphone has become the first device of its nature to actually provide a usable and practical design to users who can hold it by its edges and bend it in order to complete various actions.
At the moment, the mobile device is in the form of a prototype, which is being called the ReFlex.
The ReFlex is a bendable smartphone that was designed at Canada’s Queen’s University by researchers there. This represents one of the first truly useful designs of a smartphone screen that has been created to be bent as a part of its actual mobile operating system design. The researchers from the university came up with a 720p LG flexible OLED touch screen smartphone based on Android’s KitKat. The mobile device functions through the use of a haptic actuator, which works to detect the bend of the smartphone so that feedback can be provided to the user.
In that way, the bendable smartphone isn’t just a gimmick, but it becomes useful to the user, as well.
According to one of the project’s team members, Roel Vertegaal, “This represents a completely new way of physical interaction with flexible smartphones.” He explained that when the user bends the right side of the screen, the pages on the screen appear to flip in the same way they would if you were bending one side of a book to flip through paper pages.
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Moreover, careful use of the vibration feature allows users to actually feel the pages flipping through the tips of their fingers. This makes it possible for navigation to occur even if the user doesn’t happen to be looking directly at the screen. They can feel what is happening and can better keep track of the point they have reached within a given document.
Sensors located behind the smartphone’s display are used for detecting the force used by the user in order to bend the screen. This provides the apps with data that they can actively use as input. A voice coil installed within the ReFlex adds another component to the bendable smartphone, as the researchers stated that it “allows the phone to simulate forces and friction through highly detailed vibrations of the display.”