(Photo source: Human Media Lab)

Tech Report

By: Nick Gambino

The Human Media Lab at Queen’s University built a flexible, holographic phone called HoloFlex, though we may not ever see it go to market.

(Photo source: human media lab)

This innovative new device features a flexible body that can bend in various ways. The bending isn’t just a cool gimmick that allows you to show people how strong you are as a novelty gag. No the bending acts as a sort of command with different apps.

In a demonstration of the HoloFlex’s capabilities you can see a 3D version of Angry Birds using the bending screen as a way to line up the bird for maximum damage. Another demo shows an object in the foreground being moved in the distance when the phone is bent. This open the doors for developers to figure out all kinds of neat ways to use this technology.

While this isn’t really a necessary feature for a smartphone it is kind of cool especially when combined with the holographic, 3D display of the HoloFlex.

(Photo source: Human Media Lab)

Here’s how the screen works. Usually in a 3D display phone there are two images created, one for each eye so the viewer perceives the image in 3D. But with the Holoflex there are a bunch of tiny lenses on the display that disperse light in numerous directions creating a 3D image for anyone looking at the phone from any position.

Dr. Vertegaal of Human Media Lab offered one idea on where this type of technology might thrive, “By employing a depth camera, users can also perform holographic video conferences with one another. When bending the display users literally pop out of the screen and can even look around each other, with their faces rendered correctly from any angle to any onlooker.”

That’s a neat technology as it allows for a real 3D phone without the need for 3D glasses or head tracking. But there’s a catch. Isn’t there always a catch?

(Photo source: Human Media Lab)

Though the display is 1080p, it doesn’t look like it. After the image has gone through the multitude of lenses, each one taking a bite out of the resolution, it comes out to about 160 x 104. In other words, it’s terrible and hardly holds a candle to an archaic flip phone.

That problem needs to be solved to minimally get it to 720p if anyone is going to even consider this a serious smartphone choice.

What do you think of the HoloFlex? Innovative new technology or unnecessary dud? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter!


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.

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