Is it possible to imagine a life without mobile phones? Not any more, that’s for sure. Even the most basic models are now multi-functional, and smartphones are practically sentient, they’re so clever! (Ask Siri anything…) We’ve grown used to having mobile phones as part of our lives, and even if we just ‘keep them in case of emergencies’, it’s now almost impossible to think back to a time when phones were tethered to large red boxes or the hallway table.
However, we haven’t yet reached the zenith of technological development with the mobile phone, and indeed we are now poised to launch into the next generation of smartphones. While the apps, the technology and the general usage of smartphones may not change dramatically, what is next on the developmental agenda is how mobile phones (and smartphones in particular) are constructed. The biggest development has to be the advent of flexible screen technology, that could mean mobile phones are lighter, more robust and less prone to breaking than their glass-fronted ancestors.
The next generation of mobile phones will use a whole new delivery system to produce an image on a screen. Not only will this flexible, lightweight technology mean that phones are less prone to breaking, but because the image is produced using energy-efficient E-ink frontplanes combined with active matrix backplanes – on flexible plastic, they use much less battery life to power them as well.
Colour screens – the next big step
Currently, the frame rate of these types of displays aren't fast enough to be used for devices like iPhones, and the only way to produce a coloured screen is through the use of monochrome E-ink and coloured filters. This gives a slightly muted colour palette, but advancements and continual development by companies such as Plastic Logic is addressing this very problem. CEO of Plastic Logic Indro Mukerjee has commented that: “Plastic Logic’s development of a colour flexible plastic display is particularly significant, since the same process could enable unbreakable, flexible display solutions with other media such as LCD and OLED."
There are plenty of other innovative technological advancements in the world of mobile phones, such as extraordinary 3D button display screens that produce a tactile experience that is unlike anything that touch-screen users have encountered before. But these are ‘bells and whistles’ developments (as incredible as they are). The real advancement lies in how mobile phones will change in appearance and the way they are manufactured from more sustainable resources in the coming years – another important aspect of switching from current manufacturing methods towards flexible plastic electronic technology.
Will the public embrace the next generation of mobile phones as warmly as they have their current Galaxy and iPhones? Probably – and they will certainly appreciate the more robust nature of phones that use flexible plastic screens instead of traditional glass. Certainly, there are still some issues to address, such as the rigidity of internal components, batteries and so on. But flexible display technology is without doubt the next big step forward in mobile phone development, and it’s a step forward that many manufacturers are already taking.
Verena blogs about gadgets and technology, covering everything from the latest mobile advancements to display technology. When she’s not online Verena enjoys swimming, cycling and travelling the world.
Get free daily email updates!