Researchers at Queen's University's Human Media Lab in Canada have developed a multisensory, flexible smartphone that can be controlled by bending. The ReFlex prototype is a slim, fully functioning smartphone with the usual touchscreen controls. However, its hi-res bendable screen can sense when it's flexed and uses this as a control input.
The resistance of the flexible screen, combined with vibration feedback, gives users a sense of physical force when interacting with digital objects. This adds an extra dimension to everyday smartphone interactions, with particular applications within mobile gaming – a sector on the rise.
For instance, users can flick through a digital book in a similar manner to turning physical pages. Combined with sound and vibration, this mix of feedback could help solve the lack of physicality that deters many from e-readers or tablets. Their lack of physical cues can affect our ability to navigate through a text, and may even result in a lack of knowledge retention.
ReFlex is based on a flexible OLED touchscreen from Korean technology company LG, similar to the one it unveiled during CES 2016. For the latest coverage of intelligent shape-shifting and self-transforming materials, see our Wondrous Response Materials Focus.