The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - SCIENCE AT WORK - PETER NOWAK

So what can be done with bend­able lights and dis­plays and why would any­one want them?

In­ven­tors, en­trepreneurs, man­u­fac­tur­ers and con­sumers will ul­ti­mately an­swer those ques­tions, but a few in­trigu­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties al­ready ex­ist.

Bend­able phones and tablets of­fer the prom­ise of bet­ter dura­bil­ity – it’s hard to break a flex­i­ble screen, af­ter all – but also more dis­play space.

A smart­phone could have a reg­u­lar 2.5-inch-wide screen, but also un­fold – like a book – to re­veal a sec­ond five-inch-wide screen on its in­side. Such a large screen could be more de­sir­able for watch­ing videos or read­ing texts such as e-books.

“Here’s a big screen when you need it and here’s a smaller screen when you don’t need it,” says Jean Philippe Bouchard, vice-pres­i­dent of mo­bil­ity and con­sumer re­search at IDC Canada.

“It’s go­ing to al­low man­u­fac­tur­ers to of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent. Whether or not it’s go­ing to be suc­cess­ful or pop­u­lar re­mains to be seen.”

Lighter, flex­i­ble lights could also make a big im­pact in car de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing, es­pe­cially with the move to­ward elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

Auto mak­ers are look­ing for ways to de­crease over­all weight as heav­ier ve­hi­cles re­quire more bat­tery power. OTI Lu­mion­ics’ co-founder Michael He­lander fore­sees re­plac­ing big, heavy tail lights with ul­tra-light OLED “stick­ers” that wrap around the rear of the ve­hi­cle.

“We’re start­ing to now see a new gen­er­a­tion of light­ing de­sign,” he says.

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