0541 GMT May 21, 2019
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas, the US, on Monday, South Korean giant LG unveiled its ultra-high definition television that rolls into and out of a base stand and can be furled and unfurled on demand, AFP reported.
"It brings freedom of design to a space, without the limitations of a wall," LG senior vice president of marketing, David VanderWaal, said while introducing the OLED TV R.
A demonstration showed that the 65-inch (165-centimeter) screen could disappear completely into the base, extend just part way to display photos, act as a control screen for smart devices, or rise completely for full viewing.
LG did not disclose pricing for the rollup television.
Chinese startup Royole meanwhile showed off what it claimed is the first foldable smartphone, which can fit into a pocket but unfold into a full-sized tablet computer, which is available in China and now is offered in the US for $1,300.
"People want mobility but they also want large screens," Royole founder, Bill Liu, told a news conference as he showed the recently launched FlexPai device.
"It's really a combination of a smartphone and tablet."
Other device makers are expecting to introduce foldable handsets this year, but Liu said the technology using super-thin layers with nano-sized sensors offered a lot more than just more convenient phones.
Royole showed how the same flexible displays could be used for automotive dashboards, wearables and for various other commercial and industrial uses.
"We see this as the next generation of human-machine interface," Liu said.
"It can change the way we connect to everything."
Royole says its flexible sensor technology can be adapted for a variety of touchscreen applications with improved performance and lower costs than traditional screens.
Cool and unique
Royole and LG were among the firms making media presentations ahead of the official opening of the January 8-11 Las Vegas event.
The two announcements could portend a wave of new products from tech firms this year and could offer a spark to a smartphone sector that has seen sluggish growth over the past year.
CES features 4,500 exhibitors across 2.75 million square feet (250,000 square meters) of exhibit space showcasing artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart homes, smart cities, sports gadgets and other cutting-edge devices. Some 182,000 trade professionals are expected.
GlobalData research director, Avi Greengart, said the rollup television appears ‘cool’ and offers ‘unique technology’.
"Foldable phones is going to be a big trend this year," Greengart said, noting that most of new product announcements of that ilk were likely to be saved for the upcoming Mobile World Congress (February 25-28) in Barcelona.
Samsung is widely believed to launch a folding handset sometime this year, possibly at the Barcelona event.
Greengart said he expected the challenge to folding smartphones to be on the software side, not with the displays, since applications will have to be designed to adapt to going from phone to tablet screen sizes.
Samsung said that from spring 2019 its new smart TVs will include iTunes — software made by rival tech firm Apple.
The move was ‘a true first’, senior Samsung executive, Dave Das, told the CES tech show, according to BBC.
The service will offer sales and rentals of films and TV shows but not music.
One analyst said the strategic move would benefit both companies. The deal comes ahead of Apple's expected launch of a rival to Netflix.
Besides access to iTunes, the smart TVs will also feature AirPlay 2 support — allowing users to stream videos, photos and music from Apple devices.
Samsung's previous generation of smart TVs will also gain the features via a firmware update.
LG had earlier announced its new TVs would get AirPlay, but not iTunes.
It was a ‘fascinating’ move, said Paolo Pescatore, an independent tech analyst.
"Samsung has made numerous failed moves in video services, while Apple is still seeking to crack the TV landscape," he said.
"For Apple, this suggests a change in focus of making its services available on rival platforms rather than tightly integrating it into its own devices."
Among Samsung's other TV announcements at CES was the unveiling of a new range of QLED 8K TVs, including a 98-inch (249-centimeter) model.
Tech at home
The South Korean tech giant also used its keynote press conference to debut a new range of home appliances.
These range from front-loading washing machines with an app that "provides a recommended cycle depending on the specific items, item colors and level of dirt".
There was also a fridge that sends an alert to its owner's phone if the door is left open.
Finally, the company announced several robots tailored for specific tasks.
Bot Care, for instance is designed to check people's blood pressure, pulse and heart rates.
By placing a finger on the machine's upturned face — an animated screen — Bot Care obtains its user's vital signs.
Samsung said it was also able to monitor sleep and track medicine intake.
Other robots in the range have been designed to help customers in shops, purify indoor air and assist elderly or less mobile people when walking.