You don’t need us to tell you that there’s a lot of overlap between tablets and smartphones. Each product brings with it its own pros and cons, but innumerable tasks, from writing notes to sending emails, can be done on either device. So isn’t it about time for a device that can act as both a tablet and a smartphone, depending on the situation?
The latest prototype from Japan’s Semiconductor Energy Laboratory (SEL) suggests that we may eventually be able to use such hybrid devices — via flexible screens. SEL’s creation, which was recently unveiled at a tech show, is a 8.7-inch screen capable of displaying 1080p images. But more importantly, that screen has two folding points, allowing it to also operate at one-third of its full size, for pocket-placement and on-the-go use.
The screen includes an OLED display, and can be operated by touch at any angle. The full resolution is 1920 x 1080, giving it a pixel density of 254 ppi,
The developing company promises that durability will not be a concern: The screen can be folded over itself more than 100,000 times, implying that heavy usage should do nothing to hinder the capabilities of whatever device the screen is eventually paired with. Images of the screen folding itself over look downright surreal, as if it’s melting into a smaller size — like something out of a Salvador Dali painting.
We don’t expect to see the SEL’s folding screens represented on the U.S. market anytime soon. But the potential that they suggest — for a future where one device can fulfill needs that currently require the use of both smartphones and tablets — is incredibly exciting. Imagine the possibilities: A device that can be pocket-sized on the go, but can also provide a large screen for videos and more work-intensive projects when being used at home or in other convenient spaces.