Back in November there were hints that Samsung might start mass production of phones and devices with flexible screens, and at CES this week Samsung showed off the Youm prototype with a screen that bends around the edges of a phone. Phones are only the tip of the iceberg though as far as flexible screens go, how about binders or a wallet with a screen?
The video from CNET (below) just shows a pre-commercial prototype phone (Samsung calls it the Youm) with a screen that curves over the edges of the device. The idea is being able to have the device flat on a table and still be able to see a portion (for notifications like emails or calls):
Now those are cool, but Samsung was really showing off what this screen could do a CES. Curves, tubes, bent all over the place—except completely in half—that is still beyond the range of this technology.
But you could have a wallet with a screen, that could make payments simple, you don’t have to pull out a loyalty card…your wallet just becomes one!
How about a notebook where the cover is a screen and so are the insides? It would make something like the PaperTab even cooler. Heck the Moleskine Evernote book I mentioned in the gift guide could have all your Evernote notes on the inside cover for reference.
Lots of potential. Lots of cool prototypes, but…
The next question is…when?
Turns out that’s a lot harder to answer. Samsung hasn’t given any dates for these devices (not even a “this year”, or even a vague “in the future”), and there is one thing that is making it hard to mass produce OLED, flexible screens: oxygen.
Right, the inks and dyes in OLED screens that make this possible react strongly (badly I would gather) to oxygen. The whole process to make the screen has to be done in an oxygen-free environment. Not only that, the screens have to stay completely sealed or they will degrade as well. Those are some pretty big challenges to overcome.
Since this is actually the second time Samsung showed off flexible displays (the first time was CES 2011), we know they are working on them, just don’t hold your breath for a bendy wallet that will let you check into Foursquare at your Starbucks anytime soon.
Photos from CNET and AP.