Flexible OLED-based smartphone combines multitouch with bend input

February 18, 2016 // By Paul Buckley
Researchers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab in Canada claim to have unveiled the world’s first full-colour, high-resolution and wireless flexible smartphone to combine multitouch with bend input.

The ReFlex phone, which is based on a high definition 720p LG Display Flexible OLED touch screen powered by an Android 4.4 KitKat board mounted to the side of the display, is designed to allow users to experience physical tactile feedback when interacting with their apps through bend gestures.

“This represents a completely new way of physical interaction with flexible smartphones,” suggested Roel Vertegaal (School of Computing), director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University.

“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. Users can feel the sensation of the page moving through their fingertips via a detailed vibration of the phone. This allows eyes-free navigation, making it easier for users to keep track of where they are in a document.”

ReFlex's bend sensors behind the display sense the force with which a user bends the screen, which is made available to apps for use as input. ReFlex also features a voice coil that allows the phone to simulate forces and friction through highly detailed vibrations of the display. Combined with the passive force feedback felt when bending the display, this allows for a realistic simulation of physical forces when interacting with virtual objects.