Monday, November 10, 2014

The Bendy iPhone 6

The delicate and fragile iPhone 6 has created a scandal dubbed “Bendgate,” which unleashed waves of criticism and complaints from users only a few days after release. Users reported that the phone bent in their pockets or even that they could bend it using their hands, and that bending it back resulted in a cracked screen. However, future electronics may have flexible capabilities without the same risks—due to new materials that allow electronic functionality even under stress or strain. Typically, our display screens are limited by the required rigidity of pixels within the LCD, but carbon nanotubes have the potential to change all of that. Though they are vulnerable to impurities resulting in poor performance, encapsulating non-polar carbon nanotubes in polar materials such as polyvinyledenedifluoride-tetrafluoroethylene (PVDF-TrFE) may be able to eliminate this risk. As a result, our future phones will be rigid when we need them to be, and flexible when we want them to be.

But rather than asking how we can make a flexible liquid crystal display, we should be asking why. What technical purpose does it serve, or what problem does it solve? Curved displays allow us to create large scale special effects, such as changing the color or appearance of a wall inside a building. However, curved displays that serve this purpose already exist. We can create curved displays, but why create a flexible display? The possibilities are endless, but to me, devices like this are just solutions to problems that don’t exist. Money could be better spent elsewhere—we won’t have LCD devices forever, and it’s time to start thinking about what will come next, rather than making minor improvements on something that’s already as good as it’s going to get! 

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