Flashback: It's CES 2013 in January and Brian Berkeley of Samsung Display is on the stage, holding up a Youm bendable display as one of the highlights of his talk. "Imagine the products you could design with this," he told a crowd. Now it seems Samsung is saying, "PLEASE, imagine what you could design with this."
Yesterday Samsung launched a contest offering cash prizes to anyone with great ideas for turning Samsung's flexible display technology into products that can sell.
The competition, called "Create: Flexible Future Business Plan Competition" is starting August 29 and running until October 6. Applications will be accepted through those dates via an online submission form.
Fundamentally, Samsung is willing to pay for great ideas for using one to 20 inches of flexible display at up to full HD resolution.
Applications will be judged on how important a flexible display is to the device, the design, how realistic the hardware assumptions are, and the viability of the business plan. Samsung's contest page provides a detailed guide of what business plan topics to address.
The winner gets $10,000, with second- and third-place finishers winning $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.
Designers, hardware engineers and entrepreneurs are being encouraged to get in on the action, to start thinking up new ways to use Samsung's flexible display technology.
Samsung Electronics together with Samsung Display (a Samsung spinoff), made the announcement. The contest arrives at a time when techies, industry watchers and consumer gadget lovers have been tantalized for months with videos, prototypes and rumors about how and when Samsung will deliver these durable, versatile, flexible display products.
Ecosystem of Devices
Form factors could be in smartwatch flexible displays to flexible phones to flexible tablets to, well, who knows what. Samsung has been showcasing its Youm bendable touchscreens since early 2012, but has not yet introduced a device with the technology.
"This kind of display is going to allow our partners to create a whole new ecosystem of devices," Berkeley said in the January presentation on devices with bend-it, fold-it, roll-it futures. Innovative winners of this competition could grease the wheels.
Hosted by the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center, the competition is open only to eligible legal residents of the 50 U.S. states who are 18 years or older at the time of entry.
The company also noted on its contest page that "Samsung is continuously innovating, and may develop information that is similar to materials submitted in this contest, so only non-confidential information should be submitted."
Blazing the Trail
Flexible screens are capable of translating into small mobile devices up to large TV screens and Samsung has been the key trailblazer in flexible-screen technology.
Earlier this month, chatter picked up that Samsung could debut a smartwatch with a flexible display in the coming months, after reports of patent filings with images showing flexible displays. There has also been talk of Samsung introducing a smartwatch at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin in early September.