For the most part, electronic gadgets are stiff as boards. That's because they're typically made from plastic and glass and have computer chips cut from crystalline silicon. There's hardly a flexible thing about them.
Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx, a technology consulting firm, noted that glass has been the go-to choice for electronics because it protects the the fragile liquid crystal that make up LCDs and creates a barrier that's air tight and durable. "The argument for displays is really robustness," he told Discovery News. "So that when you drop your iPad it isn't going to shatter."
But that's all starting to change as new flexible and resilient materials are being developed that emit light and conduct electricity.
These materials are appearing in the display industry. LG, for example, announced that it's rolling out a new flexible organic light-emitting display -- or OLED.
The military has shown early interest in these technologies because they're lightweight. In fact, DARPA has funded some work at Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center to study the possibility of flexible electronics.
But moving from the research lab to the mass market will require that these flexible gadgets become affordable, said Nick Colaneri, director of the Flexible Display Center. "The question is can we make them inexpensively enough to make them mainline consumer items?" he said.
We can only hope so. Because electronic gadgets that twist and bend are eye-poppingly gorgeous. What follows are seven futuristic devices that will make your future more flexible.