About a decade ago the mobile world was getting ready to make a huge leap forward into the realm of touchscreens, and needless to say, since then the mobile market has never been the same. Feature phones have been gradually phased out and replaced by smartphones, and over the past 10 years or so, numerous OEMs have pushed the limits of mobile / pocket computing to new heights. However, at the basis of nearly every smartphone you will find the same basic principles, and while the majority of smartphone makers continue to improve camera performance, processing power, display resolution and so on, only a handful of companies out there are taking risks to develop and introduce new and innovative technologies. In fact, some of the more unique smartphone prototypes we’ve seen lately don’t even come from established smartphone manufacturers, but rather from researchers with no shares in the smartphone market. Such is the case with the HoloFlex; a holographic, flexible smartphone prototype developed and recently unveiled by the Queen’s University Human Media Lab, Canada.
The idea of flexible smartphones is not new, and as you’re probably aware, both Samsung and LG have experimented with this concept throughout the past couple of years. However, researchers at the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University have pushed the flexible smartphone concept to a new level, and yesterday they have unveiled a new prototype called the HoloFlex. It’s a truly flexible smartphone featuring a Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (FOLED) display, which can be controlled through bend gestures. Needless to say, the HoloFlex is very similar in this regard to the ReFlex prototype unveiled by Human Media Lab last February. However, unlike ReFlex, the HoloFlex is equipped with a new holographic display capable of rendering 3D objects. It features a resolution of 1920 x 1080, but images are rendered into 12-pixel-wide circular blocks reproducing “the full view of a 3D object from a particular viewpoint”. The pixel blocks project the image to an array of 16,000 3D printed flexible, fisheye microlenses, resulting in 160 x 104 resolution 3D / holographic images which can be viewed from any angle by rotating the phone. Borrowing technology from the ReFlex prototype, the HoloFlex allows users to interact with, and even rotate and move 3D objects on the screen through bend gestures.
At the heart of the HoloFlex resides a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC coupled with 2 GB of RAM and an Adreno 430 graphics chip, and the handset runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Additionally, the prototype is equipped with a depth camera which can technically be used for holographic video conferences, and the developers have also demoed a 3D Angry Birds game which can be controlled through bending gestures. Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab will apparently unveil the HoloFlex in greater detail on the 9th of May in San Jose, California. Until then, you can check out the video below and see the HoloFlex prototype in action.