“The Next Big Thing.” It’s a commercial saying that’s become rather common in the smartphone era. The company responsible for it, Samsung, is back to bring us yet another version of “the next big thing”: a foldable tablet. A report out of Korea says that Samsung’s looking to create a tablet that can be folded at least twice into a smartphone size that will make the device more portable and compact. The new tablet would feature an 8 or 9-inch OLED display will full HD resolution and would be ready for mass production in 2015.
We’re not surprised to see Samsung unveil this bendable/foldable tablet, particularly since the company’s has filed quite a few interesting flexible display patents over the last three years. In September 2011, Samsung filed its first flexible display patent that featured a dual-display smartphone that would fold down the middle. In June 2012, Samsung’s second flexible display patent shows typical smartphone icons and the usual on-screen virtual keyboard – but with two displays and thus, two sets of icons and virtual keyboards. In October 2012, Samsung filed its first patent for a tri-foldable, flexible display. It seems that the company had been contemplating dual displays, but then decided to take things down an interesting road with the idea of a display that was foldable in more than two ways. This is the first patent of what many say Samsung is now getting ready to bring to market.
In May of last year, Samsung decided to file for a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office that would alert users when they are over-bending their devices – an interesting patent for a phone that wasn’t yet on the market. Again, it seems as though Samsung’s been prepping its multi-display devices for some time, even going so far as to integrate an alarm system meant to protect the user from “abusing” his or her device. The alarm patent also featured a “strain gauge” which would help to determine if a device is over-strained or not. A new flexible tablet patent filed the following month showed how certain parts of the tablet (quadrants) would demonstrate pressure when a user applies pressure to a certain part of the display with a stylus (likely an S-Pen).
The last eight months have demonstrated Samsung’s growth in the area of flexible display technology. Last October, the Korean manufacturer filed a patent that contains a flexible display, but comes with a floating screen of some kind. In the same month, the company filed a patent that shows flexible displays being not only “bent” but also “rolled as a scroll.” One of the most interesting patents in the company’s flexible display revolution concerns the one filed with the USPTO last November that shows a bendable smartphone (flexible, dual-display) enclosed in a case, where “with case closed, the edge display is still visible,” according to Samsung. In other words, Samsung’s new display would allow icons to be placed on the outer edges of the phone so that you could still access needed functions – even with the smartphone closed.
Just six months ago, Samsung filed a new dual-display smartphone patent that shows how far the company’s come in its flexible display project. According to this patent, the new flexible display smartphone would allow you to drag and drop icons onto both displays while allowing for gaming, video conference calls, and even photo expansion across both displays. With conference calls, the user could fold the phone to force the call to go from a public, over-the-speaker call to a private one. In February, the flexible display-compatible stylus patent was filed, and a patent filed last month details the crazy shapes one could make out of flexible displays – such as cubes and newspaper-like shapes.
With all of these flexible display patents, Samsung’s getting ever closer to its dream of crafting “the next big thing” for the world market. We can speculate about 2015, but the Galaxy Note 4 presentation is only three months away – and we know that a new wearable is coming to the Note 4 announcement. Just when the market seems to be at a standstill, Samsung’s patents give us hope that the next big thing is right around the corner.