The U.S. patent and trademark office on Thursday (May 4) published a Samsung patent application describing a technology that would use flexible displays and a projector to create a truly next-gen computing experience.
The device in question could be a smartphone, set-top box, or just about any other gadget, Samsung said in its patent application, according to Patently Mobile, which obtained a copy of the filing. In the supporting images, Samsung shows a canister-looking device that has a flexible display that can be unrolled and set up to act like any old monitor.
At the top of the device is a support structure that sits above the screen and keeps the canister upright. There's also an infrared ray output unit that, according to Samsung, will be capable of casting a virtual keyboard onto the desk in front of you. Using the infrared technology, the device can determine when there's a change to the keyboard pattern, like when you might tap on a key, and respond by inputting your text into the software you're working on.
If the feature sounds familiar, it's because Samsung is trying to do much the same with its DeX Station, a new accessory it announced alongside the Galaxy S8. That device allows you to plug your Galaxy S8 into the DeX Station and use the handset as if you were on a computer, complete with a keyboard and monitor.
It's part of a broader push in the marketplace to expand what people can do with their mobile devices. After all, smartphones are becoming increasingly powerful and capable, and companies are exploring whether you'd rather be able to use your smartphone all day long, rather than put it down to basic work on your laptop or desktop.
The latest Samsung patent application appears to take that to another level. However, it's unclear exactly how the technology could be implemented and when: flexible displays are still rather new and not yet commercially viable. And with an infrared projector to boot, this device could be exceedingly expensive.
It's also worth noting that like other tech companies, Samsung files for patents all the time. Whether the technology will actually make its way to store shelves remains to be seen.