As much as the idea of a foldable phone screen sounds great, this may be missing the point entirely. In fact, the next screens may be entirely wearable.
Wearables are often computers and are technological devices that are able to be worn as accessories or clothing. However, it’s the screens that most people are really interested in right now. What if we could do away with clunky screens and wear them instead?
In 2015, LG invested $1 billion in flexible OLED screens, obviously seeing the writing on the wall. In fact, the market for wearable technology is expected to reach $70 billion by 2025, as wellness, medical, and fitness devices dominate the market. Flexible screens have already been created, specifically designed for using curved devices like bracelets and smartwatches, although these are still waiting to hit the market.
Wearable technology is a focus for entrepreneurs and researchers around the world, with advances in software and hardware occurring every day. No longer will wearables simply be heart-rate monitors and step counters, but instead will offer a whole new world of productivity and efficiency.
MindX is already creating glasses which would allow users to access information with just a single thought. The technology picks up signals from brain waves and eye movement to understand where users are looking, and what they’re thinking about when they look there. While the company is still in development stage, this could have massive applications for a range of people, including people who are disabled.
Sana is another company focused on wearables. While this isn’t exactly a screen, it’s groundbreaking for people who are suffering. The gadget will look like an eyeshade and will modulate brain waves, allowing users to eliminate chronic pain. When worn for ten minutes a few times a day, the device can produce patterns of sounds and lights, training the brain to eliminate or reduce pain. The product has undergone numerous studies and is ready for FDA approval, so hopefully, we will see it on the market soon.
Wearable screens don’t necessarily need to be actual screens. This was the theory behind Circret Bracelet, which allows your arm to become a tablet, and you can use pinch, tap, and swipe gestures along your own arm instead of a screen. This can be used by people who are both right and left-handed and is powered by a tiny projector. This projector is inside the wristband and works along with a series of long-range proximity sensors. While this project is still in development and a long way from being market-ready, many people are hopeful that it represents a huge leap forward for wearable screens.
Movies have long been ahead of the game when it comes to wearables, however, some of the movie wearables are already available today. For example, the video-recording contact lens from Minority Report (and many other spy movies) are underway. Sony filed a patent in 2013 for a contact lens that would be operated with the blink of an eye. Of course, iris recognition is also available in Google Glass.
Who could forget the entire Back to the Future Series, which was packed with wearables and smartphone technology, much of it available today? The movie Her is another indication of where the field may end up- with barely noticeable, wearable and voice-activated devices with huge capabilities. Let’s just hope that the operating systems don’t have the ability to love.
For anyone interested in wearable screens- and indeed any type of wearable technology, there’s no question that the future is bright. While flexible screens have a long way to go before they’ll be fashionable enough to be worn, this technology is improving every day.