Technology detractors often cite the physicality and heft of a book as a reason for their refusal to embrace Kindle e-readers, iPads, and tablet PCs. And it’s true, these sleek computers don’t have that distinct, musty used book scent. Nor is it possible to feel the flipping pages against your fingers as you scan for your spot in a story.
But that just might change with Queen Univ.’s Human Media Lab’s new development, the ReFlex.
“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 Roel Vertegaal, the laboratory’s director. “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.”
The ReFlex is comprised of a 720p LG Display Flexible OLED touch screen, which is powered by an Android 4.4 KitKat board. Haptic technology positioned on the back of the display allows the phone to simulate physical forces when users interact with their apps. For instance, when playing Angry Birds, the user will feel the force of a rubber band as he/she bends the phone, which pulls the bird back in the slingshot for launch.
“When released, the band snaps, sending a jolt through the phone and sending the bird flying across the screen,” said Vertegaal.
The ReFlex prototype will be presented today at the annual Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction conference. The conference is held in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Further information on the technology can be found in “ReFlex: A Flexible Smartphone with Active Haptic Feedback for Bend Input.”
Vertegaal believes consumer editions of flexible smartphones will be available within five years.