Samsung shows off Youm flexible display

The technology, Samsung says during a CES keynote speech, will let the company's partners make bendable, rollable, and foldable displays. Microsoft joins in the demo fun.

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Jon Skillings is an editorial director at CNET, where he's worked since 2000. A born browser of dictionaries, he honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing for tech publications -- including at PC Week and the IDG News Service -- back when the web was just getting under way, and even a little before. For CNET, he's written on topics from GPS, AI and 5G to James Bond, aircraft, astronauts, brass instruments and music streaming services.
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Samsung Youm on Windows Phone
Microsoft's Eric Rudder demos a prototype of how a Windows Phone would look using a Youm display. James Martin/CNET

Samsung today showed off a new flexible display technology called Youm.

During the company's keynote address at CES in Las Vegas, company executives talked up Youm, which is designed to bring out better colors and contrast, with a superthin form factor. It uses OLED display technology.

Brian Berkeley, the senior vice president of Samsung's display lab in San Jose, Calif., held up a prototype of a phone that has one of these displays that's bent around the side of the phone, so you can see updates on the side. The technology will let the company's partners make bendable, rollable, and foldable displays, he said.

Flexible display technology has been cooking at Samsung for a while now -- the company showed off a display prototype, sans phone, at CES 2011. Samsung slapped the Youm brand name on the technology last spring.

Other companies are dabbling in similar efforts to produce bendy displays. LG and Nokia have also recently demonstrated flexible prototypes for smartphones and tablets.

During its CES 2013 keynote presentation, Samsung showed a concept video of just how flexible Youm displays could be. The video started out with three actors in a coffee shop, one of whom folds up his high-tech wallet phone thing -- imagine a tablet that folds like a bifold wallet. Another one breaks out a tablet that rolls out from something the size of a handheld voice recorder.

Microsoft's chief technical strategy officer, Eric Rudder, then came on stage to demo a prototype of how a Windows Phone would look using a Youm display.

"Man, that's neat," my colleague Josh Lowensohn, who was in the audience, wrote in our live blog from the Samsung event. "Just running through a demo video on the device itself, but it looks absolutely eye-popping from 100 feet away."

Samsung Youm
This prototype shows a Youm display wrapping around the side of the device. James Martin/CNET
Samsung Youm
Samsung exec Brian Berkeley holds a demo device with a flexible Youm display. James Martin/CNET

Samsung Youm
James Martin/CNET

Editors' note: This story was updated several times with photos, background, and additional details from the CES event.