Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Flexible phones will soon take another step towards reality.

Samsung is expected to showcase the world’s first “stretchable” display panel at a U.S. tech fair this week, according to news reports from South Korea.

The South Korean tech giant will showcase a 9.1-inch (23cm) panel at the Society for Information Display 2017 in Los Angeles, which will be held from May 23 to 25, reports the Korea Herald

The display — which could see its use on wearables, foldable phones, and in cars — would be able to bend up to 12 mm (0.47 in.) either way, and can be curved, bended or rolled.

A company handout shows the display at work

A company handout shows the display at work

“While current flexible OLED is able to [bend] on only one side, this stretchable OLED can be transformed — whether curved, bended or rolled — in both sides, above and below,” a Samsung spokesperson told the Korea Herald.

But the company’s spokesperson said that the tech is still in the early stages of research and development, so it’s unsure when we’ll see stretchable phones. 

Already, though, there have been a gamut of patents from tech companies surrounding stretchable and flexible displays. Apple submitted a patent in February this year for a stretchy “input/output device” — essentially, a stretchable iPhone — while Samsung has been rumoured for a while to be working on a Galaxy X” smartphone that would expand into a tablet. 

Industry watchers believe that sales of the global flexible display market could rise to $15.5 billion in 2022, from $3.7 billion last year. 

London-based research firm IHS Markit said that displays could continue to evolve in the coming years. “The varieties of flexible displays include screens that are bendable, curved and edge-curved, but fully foldable form factors are expected within the next two years,” Jerry Kang, an IHS analyst, said

Still, an actual foldable smartphone may be far from reality. The Korea Herald reported in April that the tech giant is holding off from releasing a foldable smartphone until the technology matures, while its bezel-free displays produce healthy profits.

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