ReFlex is the smartphone that you're allowed to bend

There is a smartphone being developed that you can bend, and no, not like the iPhone 6 Plus.

ReFlex uses a Flexible OLED display from LG, similar to some of the rollable screens recently shown at CES this year, allowing you to bend it at your will. It's the first flexible phone that combines bend input with standard multitouch capabilities, meaning you can use touch interaction like a typical smartphone as well as interact with certain apps by bending the phone.

The research team from Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab uses the example of bending ReFlex to play Angry Birds and flip through a comic book.

ReFlex’s hardware isn’t flexible though — it uses an Android KitKat board on the side of the display, so don’t think this phone is completely indestructible.

“It’s the same architecture you would have in an Android smartphone,” researcher Paul Strohmeier told Mashable.

To detect bending input, Strohmeier said the phone uses a strain gauge indicator to measure how much strain is being put on the flexible screen. With that, ReFlex receives over 4,000 data points it can use to do things like control a cursor.

There is also vibration feedback detailed in the team’s study that simulates physical object interaction, similar to the feeling of bending a twig or rubber band.

ReFlex builds off of previous ideas and iterations of flexible devices, an idea that the team started bouncing around over a decade ago.

“We started working on flexible display interfaces 12 years ago with our first prototype PaperWindows,” researcher Roel Vertegaal told Mashable in an email. “We put out the world’s first tethered flexible phone — PaperPhone — five years ago.”

And they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“Future plans include detailed design of user interface elements specifically for bend input,” Vertegaal said. “

We also hope the phone will be commercialized within the next three to five years or so.

Strohmeier said the goal isn’t to replace touch input in smartphones with their own technology.

"This is a supplementary input method,” he said. “We don't suggest replacing touch with bending."

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