Flexible Phones

Bend me, shape me: Flexible phones ‘out by 2013’

By Katia MoskvitchTechnology reporter, BBC News


Samsung flexible phones prototypesSamsung‘s new phones use OLED technology, but the firm is also looking into graphene

Imagine treating your phone like a piece of paper.

Roll it up. Drop it. Squish it in your backpack. Step on it – without any damage.

Researchers are working on just such handsets – razor-thin, paper-like and bendable.

There have already been prototypes, attracting crowds at gadget shows.

WATCH: Inside a Graphene lab developing flexible display technology

But rumours abound that next year will see the launch of the first bendy phone. Numerous companies are working on the technology – LG, Philips, Sharp, Sony and Nokia among them – although reports suggest that South Korean phone manufacturer Samsung will be the first to deliver.

Nokia Morph concept phoneMorph is one of the bendable prototypes Nokia has been working on

Samsung favours smartphones with so-called flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, and is confident that they will be “very popular among consumers worldwide”.

Their screens will be “foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than… conventional LCD technology,” says a Samsung spokesperson.

Paperless world

There are other technologies that could make your smartphone bendy. After all, the concept – creating flexible electronics and assembling them on equally flexible plastic – has been touted since the 1960s, when the first flexible solar cell arrays appeared.

In 2005, Philips demonstrated the first prototype of a rollable display.

And it may not have been obvious, but a couple of years later, flexible technology hit the mainstream.

Amazon’s first Kindle e-reader used a plastic non-rigid screen – known as an optical frontplane – to display its images. The only problem was that the components beneath it required the device to be stiff.

Continue reading the main story

Different display technologies

  • LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): consumes a lot of energy, as every pixel on the screen is illuminated by a backlight.
  • OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode): each diode is its own light source, switched on when it receives an electric signal. Devices can be slimmer than LCD, better at reproducing colour, use less power, and flexible.
  • E-ink: reflects ambient light from the surface of the display back to your eyes. It has longer battery life than other displays, but is usually black and white. It could be made in colour by placing a filter with red, green and blue tints on top of the original black-and-white display, but the colour is less bright than on OLED and LCD screens.

Like many of the e-book readers that followed, it used e-ink – an innovation developed by a US company of the same name.

The screens are black and white, and work by reflecting natural light instead of glowing themselves, mimicking the way text looks in paper books.

“There are about 30 million flexible e-ink displays in the field today – the oldest working ones are from 2006,” says Sri Peruvemba of E-Ink.

“They [are] well-suited for simple phones, memory and battery indicators, smart credit cards, wristwatches, and signs.”

But why are most e-ink displays hidden behind a rigid glass screen and not made bendy?

One reason is cost, says Abhigyan Sengupta, an analyst with consultancy firm MarketsAndMarkets, which recently published a global study on flexible displays.

To have a fully flexible finished product, both parts of the display have to be flexible – the optical frontplane and the backplane, where transistors are – as well as the device’s battery, the outer shell, the touchscreen and other components.

Plastic Logic screengrabPlastic Logic designs displays using E-Ink’s technology and its own

Although Mr Peruvemba says his firm has started manufacturing displays with flexible backplanes in-house, its many partners are also busy researching ways to make electronic paper as flexible as the real thing.

Among them is South Korean firm LG Displays, which has just begun mass-producing fully flexible e-ink screens.

“They could prove a terrific benefit for handsets, where damage from drops is common,” says an LG spokeswoman. “Their light weight and thinness should provide huge potential to the future of handset design development.”

Another company working with E-Ink is UK firm Plastic Logic.

It uses the US firm’s optical frontplane but adds on its own backplane made out of non-rigid plastics, and then sells the part to device-makers.

Last May, Plastic Logic demonstrated a paper-like flexible screen capable of playing video in colour, which is achieved by placing a filter on top of the original black-and-white display.

Concept phone, NECThis prototype was developed by Japanese company NEC

But the colours are not as bright as on other types of screens, and the company’s research manager Michael Banach acknowledges the technology at the moment is most likely to be used as a back-up screen which kicks in when batteries run low, rather than the main display.

‘Wonder material’

So other researchers are taking a different approach.

Clad in blue lab overalls, Prof Andrea Ferrari from Cambridge University works on future bendy displays using graphene.

LG Displays, flexible display prototypeSouth Korean firm LG Displays has recently started mass-producing e-ink flexible displays

The material was first produced in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, two Russian-born scientists at the University of Manchester.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick – yet it is stronger than diamond, transparent, lightweight, has great conducting properties – and is flexible.

Researchers believe that graphene may in future replace silicon and revolutionise electronics as we know it.

“We are working on flexible, bendable and transparent displays and surfaces that could in future be part of flexible phones, tablets, TVs and solar cells,” says Prof Ferrari, who is working with Finnish phonemaker Nokia.

“Samsung is really quite advanced in this field, but we here in Cambridge have done some great work on Nokia’s prototypes as well.”

He says that graphene will complement and highly enhance the performance of OLED-type flexible phones, because in theory, even a handset’s flexible battery can be made out of this material.

Whatever the technology, it seems certain that very soon our phones will be not just smart, but bendy too.

 

 

In addition to being flexible, I think mobile phones should also recharge via light, heat and sound, but not necessarily all at once, one or a combination of them.   Phone companies and Internet Service Providers should offer their customers cloud storage. All data could be stored in a cloud so it wouldn’t need to be stored on the phone. Whatever material is made or used should be highly sensitive to light, heat and sound. Or rechargeable in a microwave or something like a microwave, something that uses waves.  The touchscreen can be reflective in good lighting conditions and be backlit via thermal energy from your hand.

Pencil To Pixel – Monotype

Monotype started to produce typefaces for its type-casting machines back in the late 19th century. The production process at the time started with a set of technical drawings to establish the design and dimensional characteristics of each letter in a typeface that would eventually be cast in lead. Initially, designs were based on existing foundry typefaces in common use in the printing trade at the time, but within a few years new designs were developed, some based on historical types, some completely new designs such as Gill Sans and the iconic Times New Roman, which started as a bespoke family for The Times in the early 1930s before achieving widespread popularity in the following decades.

Monotype’s office in Salfords, Surrey, is on the site that used to be its sprawling factory, which has made it possible for the company to hold onto the complete archive of its Type Drawing Office, even as the company’s manufacturing activities ceased.

The archive records about 80 years worth of typeface development (plus material from other sources gathered over the years), containing detailed drawings for all of Monotype’s hot metal typefaces from 1900 onwards, as well as original artwork, correspondence, production records, and promotional material.

Today the archive is a storehouse of information about many of the world’s classic typefaces currently in common use, as well as being a source of inspiration for contemporary designers both within the company and elsewhere. This month, Monotype is hosting an exhibition of this historical material and forward-looking recent work at Metropolitan Wharf in Wapping. On display will be a selection of rarely seen drawings, artefacts, and publications that capture the history the company alongside examples of the typographic contributions still being made at home and abroad.

———

Dan Rhatigan — Type Director, UK Monotype

ImageTyImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

 

You must go to see this exhibition for yourselves, they give a talk on the history of Monotype and Linotype which is very interesting.

You can also pick up some goodies from their shop that you won’t find anywhere else.  I got myself a pack of postcards which were a bargain  for under £5.

We can make petrol and building materials from raw sewage

Methane can be extracted from raw sewage, I’m pretty sure other useful stuff can also be extracted from sewage, and what is left after extraction can be used to make bricks/building materials.  It shouldn’t smell as bad once the methane is extracted.  This is a natural resource that will always be in endless supply too, and it’s untapped.

Cars, factories, gas cookers, gas heating, wall insulation, roof tiles, roads, paving, build/mould/carve sculptures into the fronts and insides of buildings. Mudhuts are still around today.

But since it’s a natural resource that everyone adds to, I think what’s made should be shared for all to use, personal use. People will have properly insulated homes and will need to use less fuel in the winter, too.

The worst that could happen is faeces exploding but it’s nowhere near the kind of damage that’s caused by nuclear power plants exploding.  There would be no danger of an oil spillage killing everything in its path and no pollution.

By recycling sewage we won’t be pumping it into our seas and we’ll have cleaner seas and hopefully more fish, too.

To Powerpoint or not to Powerpoint?

today my class was given a presentation on design manifestos from three of our tutors. it was presented face to face for the most part, very interactive, asked open and closed questions, and very little powerpoint was used. powerpoint has a reputation for being boring and sleep inducing but it has its purpose.

during the presentation if found it hard to know when to stop or to find time to stop listening and start writing notes.
Because it was a mainly oral presentation it would have been awkward for the orator to pause for everyone to write notes and wait for everyone to finish writing before they speak again, they must talk with a natural flow and that’s what they did. now this is where a powerpoint slide would become useful because the main points will be in written form and people will not only be able to hear what’s being talked about but also see what’s being talked about. Seeing words on screen or a board will help with the spelling of names, dates, help people where english is their second language or even people where english is their first language, help people with dyslexia. if a slide with the main points were shown on screen we could have been given a little time to jot it down in our books. Once a new slide is shown the orator can speak and discuss what’s being shown and expand on it. Once they finish speaking on that slide then that would be the best time for them to pause and let people write notes again. it can help the tutors too if they happen to forget a point they wanted to make, or forget the order, or spelling names (pronouncing names can sometimes be hard enough).

the tutors did their presentation well, content was good, well thought out, had humour, held your attention, but i didn’t make many notes because there wasn’t really an opportunity for me to make notes which is a shame because it was a good presentation overall. with no notes written down i’m left to rely on my memory and my memory fails me all the time.