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For future Black Fridays: Cool concept phones

November 25, 2010 | 11:00 am

Before planning out all the gadgets and gizmos you’re going to kick, elbow and push your way to on Friday, let’s first look longingly at some of the sleek and space-age-esque phone concepts that are nowhere near store shelves -– yet.

Philips-fluid-wearable-gadget1 Designers envision phones that will fold out into ever-wider screens or run on solar power and liquid batteries, even be made of biodegradable plastic and organic materials.

Some proposals involve phones that can change color to blend into their surroundings. Others will have self-cleaning properties, repelling dirt, water, even fingerprints.

What if they could send hologram text messages, Princess Leia-style? Or transmit feelings, like the Blackberry Empathy concept from Irvine designer Daniel Yoon would do, using biometric technology and an affinity for mood rings?

Traccia-pics-04The Nokia Kinect, designed by Jeremy Hopkins, would be able to sit up from a flat position to notify users of texts, alarms or calls. Andrea Ponti’s Traccia design envisions a phone that’s held like a pen.  

Lg_flutterMore than 400 concepts were submitted to the third annual LG Mobile Phones design competition this year, which involved more than $80,000 in prizes. Winning models included 3-D interfaces, a so-called Flutter phone that opens like a fan to reveal a touch screen, even a phone for the blind with a Braille keyboard.

Design blog and the Trend Hunter site both have long lists of such futuristic models.

But perhaps the next big breakthrough in phone construction will be models that are flexible and can be wrapped around wrists like a watch or twisted into a bud that attaches to the user’s ear.

Take the Nokia Morph idea, first revealed in 2008. Its body would be built with nanotechnology inspired by spider’s silk, allowing it to transform and fold. Morph_Wrist_Mode

Kyocera designers are toying with a concept phone that would have a “living skin.” A keyboard would morph to the surface when triggered by touch and then flatten out. Typing would create kinetic energy that would be converted into energy to power the phone by built-in nano-scale generators.

Suddenly, that Kinect you're about to wait in line for doesn't seem quite so mind-blowing....


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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo (top): Philips Fluid Smartphone

Photo (second from top): Traccia

Photo (second from bottom): LG Flutter

Photo (bottom): Nokia Morph