LG recently secured a patent on a 'Mobile Terminal,’ which it filed several years ago with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The original filing talks about an expandable and contractible display that can presumably be used in mobile devices. Users would be able to magnify the display according to their convenience and per the accompanying images, it wouldn’t just be possible to expand and contract the mobile device with such a display sideways, but also diagonally.
By way of explaining the need for such a display, the patent says that the increasing functionalities of electronics have boosted the demand for new form factors and thus, LG has been researching displays that can be contracted and stretched. It has been proposed that the display unit will have a housing beneath it and the rear surface of the housing would be covered with a case. The case would have at least two separate cases and when either of them is moved, the display would either expand or contract, in response to the movement of the divided case. There could be further divisions within cases, to allow the mobile device to expand or contract diagonally as well.
Much like the nascent foldable displays, retractable displays will offer a plethora of benefits. First off, users will be able to selectively expand any region of the display unit according to their needs. When compared to foldable displays, stretchable ones will have an edge here as users wouldn’t be limited to two form factors, they will have more options.
LG also says that such a display unit can come with a grip sensing unit with a touch sensor and overtime, it will learn user behavior and expand without requiring an explicit input from the user. So, for instance, if a user usually expands the screen while watching a video, the phone would learn that and automatically stretch the screen whenever a clip is being played.
Since it would be possible to expand the device in a diagonal direction as well as longitudinal, the grip of the handset can be enhanced as users will be able to choose a size that best fits the palm of their hands. This would be a really practical design as, in many ways, the industry currently has a one-size-fits-all approach. A device with an adjustable screen would especially be appreciated by users with short hands as most of the modern smartphones sport massive display and compact smartphones are slowly being phased out.
It is worth mentioning that companies like LG patent a lot of ideas every year and not all of those ideas are commercialized. If LG is indeed planning to go ahead with this idea, it is unlikely that it will be mass-marketed anytime soon. Of course, such a design would come with its own limitations and LG will have to overcome any potential challenges that it might be facing before going ahead with the idea. Back in 2017, Samsung had also teased a stretchable prototype display, but it was more of an elastic display and the company hasn’t commercialized it yet. Needless to say, this is an exciting time for the display industry and the current ideas can completely change how we interact with our devices.