OPE Journal

SMART LIVING, MOBILITY & SUSTAINABILITY 12 No 42 | FEBRUARY 2023 | OPE journal Biaxially curved smart surfaces enabled by flexible electronics Eventually, these daily inter- actions with technology will be seamless, and in the future there may be no interaction at all as we move towards the era of ambient computing – the idea that almost everything will have some form of ‘smartness’ and that technology will blend invisibly into the world around us. No longer will we have devices that operate inde- pendently to perform tasks, but tasks will flow across the technol - ogy embedded around us. If you have ever asked a speaker to dim the lights, or set a doorbell to contact you when pressed, then you have already experi- enced basic ambient computing. Designing technology that is integrated in this way presents many questions – how is information communicated? What, if any, interaction is there? How will this take place? Things will have to change, and that will bring new form factors and designs – a challenge for developers and manufacturers. New form factors With the advent of these new form factors and smart surfaces, conforming displays and electronics to the environment around has become a key part of the design process. To this end, flexible and curved displays are becoming more commonplace. For example, curved monitors and in-vehicle displays, foldable phones and laptops have risen in popularity and are providing new ways of interacting with technology. At the same time, there is a lot of investment in AR/ VR due to the technology’s potential to trans- form our daily lives (whether we use it for work, entertainment or well-being). AR and VR headsets are already being deployed in various industries and it’s not difficult to imagine a future where AR glasses could replace the mobile phone as the personal device of choice. Most curved active displays around us are curved in just one direction. If you shrunk yourself down, stood on the surface of such a display and spun around on the spot, you would notice that in one direction the display is still completely straight: a uniaxial curve. However, many surfaces in our everyday lives exhibit biaxial curvature, whereby at a given point on the surface it is curved in every direction, like that of a sphere or ellipsoid. Some modern examples of this would be the internal and [Fig 1] Visualisation of biaxially curved display As computing technology and devices become ubiquitous, modern life is changing. Whether at home or on the move, we have come to expect a certain level of service from both our personal devices and the technology around us in our daily lives. A contribution by FlexEnable (Cambridge, UK)