There have been a number of attempts in recent years to give smartphones a secondary display. Yotaphone’s smartphones have a color screen on one side and an E Ink screen on the other. And the InkCase line of products attempt to deliver a similar experience by building an ePaper display into a smartphone case.
But the folks at Media Interaction Lab are showing off a concept that goes even further. The FlexCase adds a secondary E Ink screen to a phone… but it’s also a flexible screen, which gives you a number of ways to interact with the primary and secondary displays.
Here’s the idea: the FlexCase is a flip cover that can fold over your phone’s screen and protect the display. But when it’s flipped open, you can also view content on the E Ink screen.
In “book mode,” you can view eBooks, items save to a clipboard, or other information on the E Ink screen while freeing up your primary display for full color graphics.
But this isn’t just a display. It’s touch, pressure, and flex-sensitive. That lets you interact with software by swiping, tapping, gripping, or bending the secondary display to zoom in on a map or image, fast forward through a video, flip pages in an eBook, or perform other actions.
The concept video also shows a “laptop mode,” where you would open up the case so that the E Ink screen is below the color display, allowing you to use it as a dynamic keyboard. You can use it to enter text, or as a control for image editing or other applications.
A third mode lets you flip the cover around so that it’s behind the phone. While most flip covers don’t offer much functionality in this position, the FlexCase can still be flexed… so you could bend the top of the screen down to scroll or fast forward.
At this point FlexCase is still just a concept. But it looks awfully similar to a project Microsoft is rumored to be working on. Maybe one day we’ll see somebody take this concept and turn it into a real product that you can buy and use with a real phone.