Are foldable smartphones on the way? Samsung touting new material that could make such a form factor possible


Are we actually getting closer to the day we'll all be folding up our smartphones and tucking them in our shirt pockets?

While flexible display tech has had many starts and stops the last few years, Samsung is now touting a breakthrough on a material called graphene that may just move the bendable display market into the fast lane.

Samsung claims graphene is significantly better than silicon on the processor front and is a stronger, thinner and lighter material - thus much more flexible.

The breakthrough with this material centers around a new way Samsung is synthesizing graphene. As a nanomaterial, graphene is created as a single crystal and is typically synthesized hundreds at a time to make one large piece of material, and as a result it loses many of its unique properties. Samsung is instead synthesizes large-area graphene into a single crystal on a semiconductor, maintaining its electric and mechanical properties.

"This is one of the most significant breakthroughs in graphene research in history," said the laboratory leaders at Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology SAIT's lab. "We expect this discovery to accelerate the commercialization of graphene, which could unlock the next era of consumer electronic technology."

The notion of flexible display screens goes back quite a few years now as several of the major consumer electronic manufacturers have talked about working with display makers on multiple products in this category. We're hearing rumblings that flexible or perhaps foldable display screens will hit the smartphone market by 2015-2016, an innovation that would allow manufacturers to produce smartphone-esque devices that could wind up as part of all manner of apparel in the wearable tech market.

While Samsung has already given us their Galaxy Gear smartwatch, the company is also working on the aforementioned foldable display screen that could become a part of their smartphone and other wearable tech offerings at some point in the next 12 to 18 months.

"The general idea behind the foldable display is that your smartphone can actually become a tablet once unfolded but you can carry it around as a smartphone," explained Devon James, a freelance tech blogger. "What becomes even more interesting are the new directions the mobile market could head in once this tech becomes a reality."

Germany-based Orkin Design has also introduced the Rolltop, a roll-up 17-inch laptop. The Orkin laptop can also transform into a tablet PC operable with a stylus, or become a standup flat screen display. A power adapter and other features fit with the carrying canister that comes with a convenient holding strap.

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