The idea of bendable and flexible smartphone displays is nothing new to the world of mobile tech. Both LG and Samsung have been putting heaps on money into this kind of tech for quite some time, and just last week we got word that Xiaomi was working on a bendable smartphone screen of their very own as well. However, with these bendable screens, nothing all that exciting is really being done with them. Sure, they offer greater durability in a smartphone because of their ability to flex and such, but that’s something we’ve been seeing since as early as 2013 with the LG G Flex. The Queen’s University Human Media Lab appears to have noticed a lack of any innovation taking place with the bendable screen tech that currently exists, so the folks over there have created the WhammyPhone – a bendable smartphone that you can use to play virtual instruments.
Smartphone and tablet apps that allow you to play musical instruments have existed for many years now, but the WhammyPhone lets users bend it in any which way to produce various sound effects of the virtual instrument that they’re using with it (e.g. a violin or guitar). The display itself is a 1920 x 1080 FOLED panel (Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode), and it features keys on the screen that produce sounds when pressed. This is achieved with the WhammyPhone’s connection to synthesizer software that runs on a computer while the phone is on, and the sounds that the user creates are manipulated when the WhammyPhone is bent. It’s a truly fascinating concept, and according to a researcher who spent time on the project – Dr. Vertegaal, “The real importance of WhammyPhone is that it provides the same kind of kinesthetic feedback that, say, a string provides when it is bent to alter the pitch. This kind of effect is critical for musicians to control their expression, and provides another level of utility for bend input in smartphones.”
There currently isn’t any word as to whether or not we could see the technology of the WhammyPhone make its way into a real-life product one day, and while this is definitely something that would be targeted at a niche market if it ever was to be released, it certainly is cool to see such an interesting use for bendable smartphone displays. The tech is very much still that of a prototype, but with bendable screens still being such a new concept, it’s likely we’ll start seeing more innovations like the WhammyPhone in the near future.
To get a better idea for just how the WhammyPhone actually works, check out the video below.