Foldable electronics are set to take center stage in the coming year. Not more than a few days ago, I published an article concerning a team of scientists out of Singapore that made an important step forward in the world of flexible electronics.

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They developed a polymer that does not lose power as the device is folded and bent to the user’s specification. Historically, the consistent obstacle was to maintain the same display light and resolution…this team of scientists have just figured out how and now we are seeing it take shape.

2017: The year of the foldable electronic device

Businesses such as IHS Electronics are predicting that the time of foldable plastic devices is upon us. Their analysts are gearing up for what they see as a massive market opportunity for flexible displays. By 2023, they believe flexible displays will account for 20% of the flat panel display market.

Samsung’s foldable smartphone is said to make it’s debut in the third quarter of 2017. But, wait, let’s back up a minute and discuss what makes foldable devices so appealing, so useful and in some cases necessary.

Humans are Sentient Beings

Human being experience the world through their senses. When one encounters a beautiful piece of art, listens to a piece of music, watches a film, or reads a novel, the primary characteristic is that the piece is absolutely sensual. It causes us to wince, cry, smile, feel things because they present material that is unmistakably sensual.

Now, how does this interact with technology?

A good example of this is ReFlex, another sample of a flexible electronic device.  It makes a good point about the experience of the user that the traditional smartphone does not allow; anytime we pick up a book we have the experience that engages our sense of touch, our sense of hearing and of course, our vision.

The phrase “curling up with a good book” is again, a sensual statement invoking our sense of touch.

Today’s smart phone is rigid and when using the Kindle app we do not get the feeling of flipping through the pages as we do with a paperback. Now, you might ask – Well who cares? Answer: we all do.

The user experience of a product is key to keep us coming back to it. A flexible electronic device that curls, buzzes, and feels like a book gives us multiple ways to become engaged with product. Some of us at home can relate that a particular copy of a book they own feels a certain way, and although it may be worn and the front cover fading, it is nonetheless personal and irreplaceable.

The same element is on the radar of tech giants like Samsung. When you think about the way we experience the world, Samsung and products, like Reflex, are seeking to engage us on multiple levels.

So what if it bends?

Maybe it is not such a big deal to you, however there is not only the bending and flexing that makes the concept neat. The best thing is that it can roll out into something larger. Samsung’s foldable smartphone rolls out into a seven inch tablet. With devices like this, we can start to see the implications.

Smart technology, which is another name for what we have been talking about, address some of the key issues facing the world today.

Population is a major concern, and with breakthroughs like this, it becomes possible for us to cut down on the amount of waste and the amount of stuff we carry with us.

It was not so long ago that children were being told not to carry so many books home from school for fear that it can warp their spinal cords. Current research indicates that while it does not cause scoliosis it can cause back pain.

Now imagine, no backpack and a device that is electronic and rolled up underneath a child’s arm like a scroll.

When the device is opened it can act as a mobile device, a storage hub for documents (textbooks for example) and a tablet computer with Internet access. This kind of technology immediately decreases the dependency on paper and this is just one example.

Another example that is more of a practical concern is the consumption of electricity in the home. Smart technology is really about condensing the user’s needs into one device, one experience. Samsung, market analyst, big tech businesses are focusing heavily and investing their business resources into the next breakthrough onto the market.