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For mobile device manufacturers, the typical trend until very recently was to reduce the size of their products. Consumers wanted portable, multi-function gadgets that fit in anyone’s hand, purse or pocket. Handset sizes quickly shrank to meet these demands, providing lightweight talk, text and web-browsing services for all.
Then the newest generation of tablet computers came out. With the rapid development and booming popularity of tablets, a new kind of mobile devices at the borderline between tablets and smartphones is now the new trendy gadget to possess. Touch screens are getting bigger again by offering users a more tablet-like feel while also allowing them to use their phones for increasingly diverse purposes.
Will the future require us to get bigger pockets and handbags? Probably not, but to make sure, scientists have been working on new designs and ways to manufacture mobile device components to make them foldable and therefore more convenient. Indeed, some of the parts composing our cell phones – such as screens, memory and printed circuits – can already be made to fold.
Very recently, a professor from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology discovered a way to print rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on a thin film that can be used in a variety of gadgets. This new battery (typically the largest single component of any mobile device) can be bent without a change in its voltage output. Though this battery is still in an experimental phase, one of the last obstacles keeping us from developing fully flexible devices may have just been overcome.
In the near future, manufacturers may be able to provide customers with not only thinner and lighter but also larger smartphones, tablets and e-readers while maintaining their convenient portability.
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