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Surprising Science

Are Bendable Phones Really Around The Corner?

Flexible displays have been here for a while, but the other components of a device need to be flexible as well. 2013 may very well see their debut.

What’s the Latest Development?

The prototypes have already been seen at some electronics shows: Cell phones that can be bent, rolled up, wrapped around a wrist, etc. 2013 may be the year that these bendable devices finally hit the market. Samsung is rumored to be leading the way with Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology, which allows for displays that are more flexible and energy-efficient than those using conventional LCD. Nokia researchers are also using OLED in combination with graphene, the ultra-flexible carbon-based material that some believe will change how electronics are built.

What’s the Big Idea?

Bendable displays that take advantage of e-ink technology (pioneered by a company called E-Ink) have existed since around 2006, but they have been imprisoned within a rigid framework because of the need to protect the device’s other, inflexible parts. Various companies have been working on making those parts — such as the screen, the battery, and the outer shell — bendable as well. Of course, one of the biggest advantages of these flexible devices is that they won’t be quite as breakable, which is great news for klutzes everywhere.

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