Flexing our folding phone screen could control scrolling in a webpage or media file. If you were watching a video, for example, the flex could allow you to fast forward in one direction or backwards to rewind. Bringing the screen back to its flat state returns the video to its normal play speed.
Then there’s the possibility of edit mode. Right now, when you compose an Instagram post, the process can be fiddly on smaller screen. With folding phones, the post can be flipped to the bigger screen, allowing you to enter a more detailed edit mode. Once you’ve chosen your preferred edit tool, such as colour, simply using the flex of the screen could let you make fine adjusts to the colour tone of your image.
Last but not least is the potential for enhanced smartphone gaming, with folding screens stepping up the opportunity for some serious fun. In this case, opening up the screen could take players to a whole new level within a game, while flipping the screen could let the player push new boundaries or deploy new tactics.
With price tags nudging £2,000 ($2,540, €2,250) for the major brands’ first-generation handsets, we are still some way off from foldable smartphones being widely adopted. In turn, they will need to offer compelling benefits over users’ existing smartphones to really take off. In my view, the real opportunities for flexible and folding screens may well expand beyond today’s smartphone category as we know it. As brands and designers, we are challenged to think beyond the existing paradigms to create exciting and interactive digital products created purposefully for this emerging new platform.
Matthew Cockerill is a design and innovation consultant, and the former head of Swift Creatives, an international design and innovation studio creating digital and physical product experiences for global brands and start-ups.
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