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Eyes-on: Samsung's Youm flexible-display tech at CES 2013

CNET gets an up-close look at Samsung's Youm flexible-display technology, headed to smartphones and tablets in the future.

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LAS VEGAS -- Samsung debuted its Youm flexible-display technology at CES' closing keynote, and the tech is nothing short of eye-popping.

The screens, which were shown off here as just a concept, promise to change what kind of form factors are possible for companies that make smartphones and tablets.

Samsung brought out a handful of demo units around 5-inches in size to show press, including a phonelike device with a screen that wraps around the side edges and could therefore display information like text messages and other alerts without a user needing to view the entire screen. A similar design puts the wraparounds on the bottom, while another concept (shown off in a video) rolled out like a scroll.

Behind the scenes, Samsung is making use of OLED to give the screens what it says are deeper blacks and a higher overall contrast ratio with better power efficiency than traditional LCD displays.

During a brief viewing of the technology following the presentation, Samsung showed a small group of reporters a close-up of the screens, which were displaying still images and videos. Touch interactions with the tech were not shown off (since the displays were not hooked up to CPUs), but Samsung was keen to demo the possible form factors, from a screen bent like a question mark to more simple designs that form a small curl on the edges.

Samsung did not provide a price or release date for Youm.

Samsung's approach (which the company teased last month) differs from competitor Nokia, which made waves in October 2011 with its "kinetic interface" technology. Nokia showed off a flexible screen that controlled aspects of the phone hardware depending on how users twisted the screen. So far, Samsung appears to be more interested in using its own technology to turn parts of the phone that would otherwise go unused to additional areas to display information and add interactivity.

This is not the first time Samsung has unveiled flexible-display technology at CES. The company demoed flexible, transparent displaysat the same show in 2011, also with the intent to bring them to future devices. The newer models come in larger form factors and with higher pixel displays.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. PT with additional background.

James Martin/CNET