We've sung the praises of flexible screen technology here a few times—it'll be a key part of the next revolution in gadget technology. And now another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place, as the ASU Flexible Display Center recently demonstrated a fully-flexible e-ink touchscreen.
The flexdisplay is in fact an e-ink device, bringing the benefits of low power-consumption and zero-power display. And, its touchscreen supports inputs by stylus pen or fingertip.
Though the tech was developed for the military, it's not hard to imagine it making its way into consumer gadgets soon: A roll-up display that can also be written on is really the stuff of science-fiction, and possibly one future for electronic books.
But those simple uses are really just the first stage of what's possible with this technology. One benefit of a flexible touchscreen display is its use as a collapsible screen—sure. But another exploitation is more subtle: The device could be wrapped conformally around a gadget. Picture a whole touch-surface mouse that incorporates a display to show widgets, incoming email notifications and so on—an expansion of the all-touch mouse Apple has patented. Or a cellphone or MP3 player that's as smooth as a pebble for maximum pocketability and has a conformal touchscreen display all around.
Those are trivial gadget exploitations: There's scope for uses on a much larger scale such as dynamic interactive wallpaper, public advertising hoardings that use similar technology, smart clothing that acts as a moving display and control interface for a pocket PC, and even medical display purposes.
Get used to the idea of curvy gadgets with all-over screens and touch-responses—they're really on their way.