Technology is Bendy: Samsung Unveils YOUM

If you’ve been online for the past five days, you may have noticed a particularly interesting video that has been making rounds of various social networking sites: it’s a video unveiling Samsung’s latest development (well, if you discount the fact that this has been rumored for the past year) at CES 2013. And it looks like more than one brand name will get bent over the amazing technology they just presented.

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The Rumors of a Flexible OLED screen

As stated before, this isn’t actually news. Since last year, Samsung has hinted that it is working together with developers in order to create what appears to be an OLED screen (the very screens we have today on our smartphones and tablets) that could be bent, rolled up, and folded like any other sheet of paper. It seems a little bit impossible to some people, since the wiring and electronic currents, or just basically the sheer technology that would have to go into creating a bendy screen would seems to be just impossible right now.

But it looks like Samsung has done it, and they call it YOUM.

Youm gets revealed in CES 2013

As the video shows, the prototype is already quite impressive. It functioned (in high-definition, no less) exactly like any other smartphone’s screen. It was playing a commercial for various software apps for the Android. Seems simple enough, until the presenter, Brian Berkeley (senior vice president of display), proceeded to bend the screen, which kept merrily displaying along, with no interruption or pixel distortion to the video that was playing on it.

Amidst a great deal of applause, Berkeley continued to present an example on how this screen could be used. When applied onto a smartphone, the normal conditions of viewing—which is one side, flat, rigid—had been changed to include a small dip or wraparound to the long side of the smartphone. Previously, this had been impossible. Smartphone touchscreens are traditionally flat, and any bend in the glass will distort the display. With the flexible screen, the OLED is flat against the surface. In the demonstration a “closed” phone cover will not hinder users from seeing incoming texts or messages, and it will also enable them to still “touch” the screen from the side to read the message in a marquee-type fashion.

What else is possible with this technology?

Along with the demonstration came a video of what this technology could be used for. It compared today’s conventional tablets to the new phone-plus-tablet hybrids they could create. No, not a phablet—but an actual smartphone-sized device that could make calls, communicate through a VoIP service provider, and send email. The difference? It could flip open like a pocketbook to turn into a full tablet, capable of doing all the same things in a wider screen. This means easier typing, bigger video views, better experience when reading e-books and browsing the web.

The other item that was displayed was a cylindrical device that seemed to only have one display line to the side, until it was clicked and it spewed a panel of flexible screen, much like a window shutter, revealing a full tablet-size display.

With YOUM, evolution isn’t a straight line; it’s fluid and can go different ways, maybe even roll and bend when needed.