Nokia demonstrates flexible phone prototype

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Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia was all over the news yesterday after announcing multiple phones at Nokia World, but it’s a prototype handset tentatively known as the Nokia Kinetic Device that was the real star among stars. This forward-thinking handset allows users to physically interact with media and control the device by altering its shape.

The handset is far from a finished product but that doesn’t mean we can’t be engaged. The team at Nokia demonstrated how the device could zoom in and out of photos simply by flexing the unit forward and backward. The same motion would pause or play audio in a music app. Twisting the handset from one side to the other allows you to scroll through music collections or photo albums with ease.

The technology certainly looks promising but there are no doubt still plenty of hurdles to overcome. The device requires two hands to operate, thus eliminating single-hand use. One must assume that the prototype on display lacked the majority of hardware found in today’s mobile phones, something that would need to be worked out before a retail product could become a reality (flexible storage, processors and network chips, anyone?). Also, how would such a device react to inadvertent flexes, like changes that could occur when you sit down with the phone in your pocket?

Aside from the obvious “wow” factor, a flexible phone could hold up pretty well in terms of sturdiness. I would suspect such a device could withstand a fall onto a hard surface better than today’s rigid handsets.

A flexible smartphone is still likely years away from production but it’s nice to get a sneak peek at what the future might hold.

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