Flexible display manufacturer SmartKem say that flexible smartphones will be ‘available in late 2015’. Speaking exclusively to Mobile Mike Cowin, SmartKem’s head of strategic marketing said: ‘There’s new product on the market with a fixed curve but this is just the beginning. Then it will be a progression to bi-foldable and tri-foldable.’
The flexible phone is a technology that has been discussed for a while with high pricing slowing its progress. However, SmartKem believe that this is something that is changing as Cowin explains: ‘There is a big push to find a differentiator to add value to a new product. OLED technology has been touted for a long time but previously the price has prevented it from large scale adoption. Making the display unbreakable and bendable is seen as a real value add to enable mass manufacture of new OLED based product, so driving the cost down.'
Interest from major brands has been high with Cowin confirming that the company is in negotiations with a number of big players including the ‘two most popular phone manufacturers in the world right now’ he also said that SmartKem were ‘in talks with the world’s biggest OEMs.’
The firm was keen to stress that it believes the first generation of flexible device will just be the start of a huge number of products that will revolutionise the smartphone’s appearance:‘The technology we are developing will make the current set of smartphones look like bricks. When you move to flexible displays the key thing is that they are ultra-thin and unbreakable. You’ll be able to smash it with a hammer and it won’t break, it’s that flexible. The potential within this technology is huge and there is a natural progression for a new type of form factor. It’s a feature rich technology that will be developed into multiple product formats such as wearable, mobile and static displays. Indeed these displays will be so pervasive that they’re referred to by major brands as the future “window” to the internet of things. It’s easy when looking from the outside to think that you’ve reached the endgame when it comes to new product type or user experience but in fact there are many more innovations on the way.’
The company whose offices are based in Manchester have a number of joint development contracts with major companies. It is currently in the process of scaling up the business and recently closed Series A funding for £3m.