What it really takes to make a phone flexible (Smartphones Unlocked)

If Mr. Dipak Chowdhury known how accident-prone I'm really, he never handed the sheet of 0.1 mm glass look for me between my fingers.

Fortunately for me, the vice president and director of the division of Corning Glass Willow is a trusting soul and CNET gave the world the first public demonstration of this glass so thin that it can bend without breaking.

Flexible glass and flexible displays have been a hot topic for some time, culminating with fanfare to demo its winding Samsung OLED at CES Youm.

Companies like Samsung, Nokia, Apple and even worked on flexible displays for smartphones years, but for the first time, there are enough real research and development in this field, perhaps starting to get excited.

Just think what a smartphone could be flexible: the curve with the movement of your body so that it sits more comfortably in a pocket, dropped from a height and bend on impact rather than break , packed in a number of compartments without triple band it in bubble wrap.

But do not be too lather so far. Glass Willow is not the rich Gorilla Glass 3 Youm Samsung screens have nothing to attach again, smartphones and swaying in the breeze is still years on.

There is more that needs to go with the flow as the display and glass.
One of the biggest challenges with a flexible phone is to put the glass cover to fold - and this is a common misconception that glass is unbreakable flexible.

Corning Dr Chowdhury said that Willow glass was designed as a substrate material - glass belongs to the interior of a smartphone - but in its current form, it is not strong enough to serve as a resistant barrier keeps documents internal elements. It was not meant to be.
Yes, a substance similar to the glass down Willow could undergo a chemical process similar reinforcement Corning Gorilla glass most famous, the substance that makes up the outer layer to protect many of today's phones, tablets and laptops .

However, even if a cousin glass Willow grown sufficiently fortified up a phone and maintain its curvature, the break is always a concern.

When chemists and industrial designers speak of strength, they do not just mean massive cracks and spalling. It is true that flexible glass can withstand drop tests with less damage than some rigid glass, with its undulating ways, but it may not be able to push the scratching, gouging and wear long term screens are vulnerable to breakage.

Although current formula Corning Glass Willow can profoundly arch, it can still also perforation and rupture.
What is a plastic screen instead?

It is very possible that the first bending screens we see actively be covered by the plastic rather than glass. As always, resiliency and durability are concerns.

"There will be a compromise at this stage," said Mark Rolston, chief creative director of Frog Design firm famous. "This is a physical reality that everything is consistent is more sensitive to scratches."

Corning says Dr. Chowdhury some companies have demonstrated a plastic dome screen for several years, but there is still a long way to the market, even for the polymer.

The fact that the smartphone industry has moved almost large screens plastic glass is also significant - you do not see a Retina Display in the iPhone 5 plastic, after all. Sharper images and clearer with a glass lid, and it is also more responsive and sensitive to touch. (I reviewed touchscreen phones without glass lids, and the experience was pretty terrible.)

The glass is also better to be impermeable to oxygen and water, two compounds that you want as much courage electronic phone as possible, to keep them against damage and aging.

If we see models with folding screens made of plastic, they will probably reference products top and conceptual models, or models niche early, rather than mature consumer devices.
The battery does not flex well

Even if you get the display technology and glass bending, there is always the question of other internal components. What do you do about the battery, processor, camera module and the circuit NFC - all currently static pads, bricks and chips?
Conventional lithium-ion batteries, which power the smartphones of today are very rigid, says Mark Juzkow, vice president of research and development for the company battery power of Leiden. They need to be rigid and inflexible to last as long as possible.

New battery technology in the early development moves in the direction of the thin film battery flat, but it is not the right solution for a flip phone, either, Juzkow said. Firstly, they use a solid state electrolyte to produce energy performance feedback, and it takes more time. Second, their energy is not sufficient to run a power hungry phone for very long.

In case you're wondering, it would be possible to place thicker, the battery is shortened to one end of a device Juzkow grants, so that the bending of the phone while the battery is not working. Manufacturers of small flexible products such as smartphones, could also insert a series of smaller batteries along the length, leaving room for the device to bend between these slugs static. There's just one major problem with it: small batteries generate less load and die more quickly than larger batteries.

This does not mean a phone is flexible out of the question. Mechanical engineers design and worked with batteries fit and flexible printed circuit boards before, even if both are generally rigid.

Flexible printed circuits, for example, were both ubiquitous in the humble flip phone, connecting the two halves of the shell as it unfolded.

    See also: Emerging Tech hopes to make battery last longer smartphones

As for batteries curved, only need to turn to Nike FuelBand for a hint of recently broke ground. By making the device, two batteries placed Nike curved on either side of the strip, covered by a continuous piece of metal that restricts the portion of the strip is folded.

It may be that the flexible future phone comes with precast elements.
In search of the phone chassis Lycra

When you think of a flip phone, there is also the problem of material phone itself. From a design point of view, you do not want the body to be too lax or too rigid, says Rolston, lead creation of Frog Design.

"You have to build within. You can use a soft plastic, but can [the material body] also stop the movement at the end of the flex?"

In other words, if the curves of the phone, you return it to its original form. There is such a thing, it is like a phone that is too soft.

A good example of what is possible and what might actually come, Nokia is "kinetic device," a working prototype of a handheld computing device that slightly twisted CNET reporter Stephen Shankland seen in London in 2011.

Beyond the screen, you can manipulate the entire device, adjusting the sides to scroll content such as music and photos.
Shankland reported that some Nokia devices demoed today contain carbon nanotubes in an elastomeric material, a particular type of rubbery polymer. Emphasizing one side of the device while pressing the other physical interaction created to advance images and transmit music.

The ideal material for a flexible smartphone or other devices elbows slightly without losing its original form in a vertical position in time, a kind of lycra for the world of personal electronics.

"The question is the memory of the material," says Robert Curtis, Executive Director of Frog Design product development. "How much does it hold if it is folded or unfolded?" Memory, in this case, refers to the ability of the material to regain its original shape, the antithesis of memory foam.

The good news is, all the materials to make this possible already exist. The challenge is to gather all the pieces in a functional design.
Then there is the price

Ask Dr. Dipak Chowdhury Corning one of the main advantages of glass Willow and he will tell you that because it can be made into a roll, it is less expensive to manufacture.

However, the manufacturing cost of a single component cost is not a product that is cheaper in general. Research, development, procurement and manufacturing process of new materials is not done overnight, and can end up being quite expensive for a new technology.

How the average consumer pay for a flip phone? Sure, it's a nice idea, but after the novelty wears off, how would practice a flip phone really be compared to a traditional stick-straight device? In other words, how much would you pay extra for your phone to conform to the shape of your pocket?
Remember Rollup phone, "bent" triumph "folding"

There is a form that we can cross off the list when writing smartphone flexible of our dreams: a device that wraps in a circle or a roller.

Coiled handset is "a really stupid idea," said Mark Rolston, Creative Director of Frog Design.

"Rolling and unrolling a phone defies the behavioral element of a phone," he said, adding that people want to take their camera out of your pocket and use it immediately.

Flexible phones and other devices may have a place in the world, but Rolston think they will not be visible until the bending of glass and other components is "very mature."
Corning Dr Chowdhury agrees, in part because sellers have not zeroed in what they want. "We try to sell our glass," he said, and when it is a fully functioning device, "there is no agreed term for" flexible "means." Without this firm definition, there is also a hazy way how providers intend to leverage phone flex in their designs.

Instead of folding for the sake of it, glass and marketers see displays concordant find much wider applications in the first place, before you start to see commercial uses of these bodies and flexible displays. Glass structures precast challenge the right flat rectangle comprising panels as in televisions, cell phones, and almost all programmable screens, and exhibitions that take organic shapes and configurations have any number of Uses: computers may futuristic form the walls of your office, or a car windshield, you can program show you a map while driving.

Between Rolston and Chowdhury, there are many other examples that can be expected in the near future through a variety of industries, some of which we already see today in grass:

    Wrap-around screens and devices for trade shows booths
    Curved screens for sporting accessories such as watches and appliances
    Screens made of car dashboards
    Toys, thermostats, and tools to read measurements
    Flexible photovoltaic cells for solar panels you can place on a roof

These ideas may not be widely seen today, but they are not new. In 2008, Rolston said, Frog Design has created a prototype for HP with a wraparound screen. It was decorative, rather than information, he said, but he made the sides of the device in the form essential mystery never seem project.

Rolston, for its part, continues to return to the dashboard, car waxing poetic in the charming way that designers make about aesthetics led "humanist" as a dashboard car carved and effort designers to create luxury finishes from metal, wood and carbon fiber.

"In the midst of all this," laments Rolston, "we increasingly cut a rectangular hole 8 inches to a screen. If we can get this screen instead be part of the material, which is part of visual language the car ... that would be a beautiful thing. "

"God, that would be cool."

And this is perhaps the most important lesson that we can learn folding screens at this stage of their development. To be cool, you gotta be flexible.
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