Samsung launched a contest of sorts at the very hip Parisoma shared workspace in San Francisco around the future of mobile and its upcoming flexible display technology. In a retro move, they gave out details on old school 3M transparencies -- funny, but impossible to read.
This is a business plan contest, not the kind of design contest we know and love in electronics. You will not get your hands on a flexible display from Samsung Device and will probably have to guess most of its technical specs.
Samsung is, however, giving out three cash prizes -- $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500 -- and they will give the winners technical support. It may even fund your idea, so the contest might be worth a shot if you are creative.
My take is that a lot of Internet of Things devices will need bendable, foldable, and flexible displays because they are going where a traditional rigid display hasn't gone before. Samsung previously announced this technology at CES in January. Its name is YOUM, and you can see some demos here.
The contest clearly has Samsung corporate attention. Speaking on a panel at the event were Shankar Chandran, head of Samsung Catalyst Fund, a $100M fund focused on early and seed stage investments; and Jim Schuessler, director of mobile platform architecture at the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center.
I think the reason for having this in a gritty San Francisco shared workspace was to attract non-traditional electronics and systems designers, but I am skeptical if that was the right approach. Interestingly, they are hiring designers, so the event did double duty for the Samsung Innovation Center in Silicon Valley, and may explain why we were on 11th and Howard in San Francisco (nice move).
The general requirements of the contest are that a flexible display is a key part of a product that is feasible and has clearly articulated time and cost assumptions. Samsung said its flexible displays will come in several forms, range from one to 20 inches in size, and support up to 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. The details of the contest are here.
I think the hardest part of the contest is the business model and volume assumptions, but if you get picked and Samsung gets behind you, big things could happen. They could happen quickly, too. The application period opens August 29 and ends September 15. So why not dream a little and figure out that IoT killer app that couldn't be realized without a flexible display?
Samsung envisions three classes of flexible displays.