Not so long back, rumours of the bendable iPhone 6 Plus raged through the internet and got quickly squashed because they were only rumours. Now there’s actually a smartphone that bends and is likely to be launched some times in near future (we hope it does). ReFlex is currently on developmental phase and researchers tell us its the world’s first wireless flexible smartphone where users can interact with the apps through touch gestures. “This represents a completely new way of physical interaction with flexible smartphones,” said Roel Vertegaal, the director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Canada.
ReFlex has a high definition LG Display Flexible Oled touch screen and is powered by an Android 4.4 (KitKat) with boards mounted to the sides of the screen. One would think, being bendable the smartphone will have to compromise with some of its features and probably the touch screen will be the first feature to be left behind. But in fact this phone is called the first of its kind for some reason. The phone is not just bendable but also comes with standard multitouch capabilities. Therefore it can very well function like a typical smartphone. The idea isn’t to replace touch screen but to incorporate the bendable feature in a touch screen phone. “We don’t suggest replacing touch with bending,” said researcher Paul Strohmeier to Mashable.
On February 17, the ReFlex prototype was unveiled at the 10th anniversary Conference on Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI) in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Folks at the Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab play Angry Birds and even flip through a comic book in the ReFlex to demonstrate how smoothly the device works. “When this smartphone is bent down on the right, pages flip through the fingers from right to left, just like they would in a book. More extreme bends speed up the page flips,” said Vertegaal.
One incredible feature of ReFlex is that user be slightly aware of the actions performed by the device. For instance when flipping through the pages, one can feel the detailed vibration of the phone, the very sensation of the page moving through their fingertips. While playing the Angry Bird game, user bend the screen to stretch the sling shot and experience a sensation of a real stretching rubber band.
As you can see ReFlex uses an Android KitKat board on either side of the screen which is used to grip and bend the phone but the board itself does not bend.
For the research team at Queen’s University the idea of ReFlex came a decade ago from which they developed their first prototype – PaperWindows. And in 2011, they put out the world’s first tethered flexible phone — PaperPhone. They are hoping that they’ll soon be able to put ReFlex in the commercial market in the next three to five years.