Technology Update (March 2016)

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Smartphone that can bend for controlling apps

Researchers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab have developed the world’s first full-colour, high-resolution, wireless flexible smartphone that combines multi-touch with bend input. They have named the phone ReFlex, and it allows users to experience physical tactile feedback when interacting with their apps through bend gestures.

According to Roel Vertegaal (School of Computing), director of Human Media Lab, when this smartphone is bent down on the right, pages flip through the fingers from right to left, just like these would in a book. More extreme bends speed up the page flips. Users can feel the sensation of the page moving through their fingertips as the phone vibrates. This allows eyes-free navigation, making it easier for them to keep track of where they are in a document.

Vertegaal gave another example where when users play Angry Birds game with ReFlex, they bend the screen to stretch the sling shot. As the rubber band expands, they experience vibrations that simulate those of a real stretching rubber band.

ReFlex in action (Image courtesy: www.phys.org)
ReFlex in action (Image courtesy: www.phys.org)
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