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Nokia R&D dreams up mind-bending tech

CNET takes a trip to Nokia's U.S. headquarters to get a glimpse at the future of smartphones, as imagined by the Nokia Research Center.

Now playing: Watch this: Nokia's future phone concepts

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--With the Nokia Research Center leading the way, the Finnish handset manufacturer could be headed down one twisted road--and we mean that in a good way.

Since its founding in 1986, the NRC has been charged with developing mobile technology through the exploration of science. The center recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and to commemorate the milestone, Nokia hosted various events around the world. CNET got to take part in the U.S. celebrations at Nokia's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters yesterday, where we got to check out some of the latest innovations from the NRC.

With teams in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa and collaborations with universities and research labs worldwide, the team has been responsible for creating technology that is essential to today's mobile phones. The NRC's achievements include developing the speech and channel codec found in almost all GSM phones, creating intellectual property used in the mobile Web browsers and app store, and devising the first musical ring tone.

Sure, this may not be the most attention-grabbing and exciting tech in your eyes, but turns out, the NRC has some of that, too.

The group is working on some really interesting innovations that may someday lead to mobile devices with flexible displays, chameleon-like smartphones, and sophisticated mapping technology that can make finding anything (even those misplaced car keys) a breeze.

Say what you will about Nokia's current state of affairs; the NRC's vision of the future looks pretty cool to me. Have a look for yourself.