ReFlex, the first full-colour, high-resolution and wireless flexible smartphone in the world, has been invented by researchers at the Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab. The smartphone will enable users to feel feedback when using the phone’s apps and will be available within five years.

“This represents a completely new way of physical interaction with flexible smartphones,” says Roel Vertegaal, the director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University. “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. 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.”


Human Media Lab/Queen's University

Human Media Lab/Queen’s University

According to the researchers, ReFlex is based on a high definition 720p LG Display Flexible OLED touch screen powered by an Android 4.4 KitKat board found on the side of the display. The bend sensors located behind its display feels the force when a user bends the screen. Additionally, the phone features a voice coil, which will enable the phone to simulate forces and friction through its display’s detailed vibrations.

“This allows for the most accurate physical simulation of interacting with virtual data possible on a smartphone today,” Vertegaal adds. “When a user plays the “Angry Birds” game with ReFlex, they bend the screen to stretch the sling shot. As the rubber band expands, users experience vibrations that simulate those of a real stretching rubber band. When released, the band snaps, sending a jolt through the phone and sending the bird flying across the screen.”

The research team will present the ReFlex prototype at the Conference on Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI) in Eindhoven, The Netherlands during its 10th anniversary on February 17.