The AMOLED screen that currently adorns most smartphones has great resolution and crisp displays. The two biggest problems that most smartphone users consistently have are short battery life and screens that scratch often or break when they are dropped.
Scratch-resistant screens such as gorilla glass do exist, but the future of most displays is flexible or ‘bend-able’ screens.
Unlike the current screens, which are mostly made of glass, the new composite and plastic materials that make up flexible displays are capable of using 25% less power, according to lab tests by Samsung and LG. They are also resistant to breakage.
The new flexible screens cannot, yet, be wrapped up like a Katti roll. They will, though, enable a whole new set of immersive applications on the next generation of smartphones. These applications will take advantage of the wider viewing angle provided by flexible displays that bend.
Over 64% of smartphone users have used their phones for casual gaming. Over 80% of applications in all the major phone systems are games. Given these usage patterns, it is clear that flexible displays will enable more games that allow the user to have experiences that mirror the real world in terms of touch and feel.
The first mass-produced flexible screens will hit the market in the next year or so, according to some smartphone vendors.
The next step in flexibility is ‘stretch’ phones. Currently, there are three devices vying for the buyer’s attention – the smartphone, the tablet and the notebook (laptop) computer. The biggest difference between these tends to be the form factor (size of the screen). Most people choose two of them for over 90% of their work, and end up carrying two devices or in some cases three – one for communication, another for media consumption and the third for content production.
With stretch screens, the screen will “stretch” to fit your need best. Want to make a call? The screen will fit your palm in less than 4 inches. If you’d rather read news and catch up on sports, the screen will stretch to 7 inches. Want to watch a video, the screen “stretches” to 11 inches.
While the stretch screen does not exist yet, they are most certainly what most users will start to use in the next 5-10 years.
Mukund Mohan is the CEO in residence of the Microsoft Startup Accelerator in Bangalore. He can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/mukund