'World's first' bendy smartphone unveiled by Canadian researchers

The team behind the phone believe the technology could reach consumers within a few years

Canadian researchers have developed what they claim is the world's first flexible smartphone.

The technology, which is still in the prototype stage, could one day make shattered screens and permanently bent phones a thing of the past if it hits the market.

The team, working in the Human Media Lab at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada, have called their device the ReFlex, and a short video showing its capabilities is seriously impressive.

Other than making the phone a little more resistant to drops, the bendable body offers some interesting new methods of navigating.

Rather than swiping the screen to turn pages when reading an ebook, as they would with a regular smartphone, the user can just bend the phone and flip through as many pages as they need to, in the same way they would with a regular book.

A vibrating unit embedded in the phone also provides haptic feedback, so users can feel the 'pages' flipping past their fingers as they move through the book.

It also has applications in gaming, too - when playing Angry Birds, the vibration changes as the catapult pulls back, giving the sensation of an actual rubbing band stretching out and snapping forward.

Equipped with a high-definition OLED screen, the display actually looks quite good, with sharp images and bright, vibrant colours.

Importantly, the Android-powered device can also make calls. But who uses their phone to do that?

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The flexible screen is especially suited to flipping through books (Pic: Human Media Lab)

Flexible smartphones have been unveiled before - manufacturers like Nokia and Samsung have made a few experimental models, but they've mostly either been wired devices or just promotional concepts. The LG G Flex bendable smartphone was actually released to the public in 2013, but it couldn't bend anywhere near as much as the ReFlex.

By making their device completely wireless, full-colour, high resolution and truly flexible, the Queen's University team might just have achieved a first in mobile technology.

It's obviously not going to be hitting the market soon, but Roel Vertegaal, head of the Human Media Lab, believes we could see the technology reach consumers within a few years.

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