Samsung has unveiled the Bendable TV, an 85 in (216 cm) prototype that allows the curvature of its screen to be adjusted by remote control.
The LED (light-emitting diode) set was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
LG has also announced a smaller 77 in (196 cm) flexible TV of its own that is based on OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology.
The firms suggest that a curved screen can enhance the viewing experience.
The tech would allow the sets’ owners to determine how bent the screens should be taking into account how many people were watching them and how far away they were sitting. The screens would have the added benefit of being able to be left flat against the wall when not in use.
LG’s model will go on view when its show floor booth opens to attendees on Tuesday.
However, industry watchers are unconvinced there is a market for such innovation.
Samsung has unveiled the Bendable TV at CES 2014
“The challenge for the firms is to demonstrate that the world really needs this,” said Martin Garner, a TV tech consultant from CCS Insight who is attending CES.
“They are, however, a nice attempt at differentiation.”
Neither of the two South Korean manufacturers have given a projected price or release date for the user-bendable TVs.
They both, however, offer versions with a fixed curvature.
The two companies are showing off new giant-sized 105 in (267 cm) concave-screened versions in the extra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio.
Samsung said such a design delivered the “most immersive viewing experience” possible.
However, a demonstration of the equipment went awry when it invited Michael Bay, director of the Transformers movies, on stage at its press conference.
Joe Stinziano, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics, told the crowd: “Welcome to Vegas, it’s a live show folks.”
Michael Bay later wrote a blog giving his take on the mishap.
“Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES,” he wrote.
“I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost.
“Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”
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Nvidia has announced plans to produce its own hand-held video-games console, Project Shield.
Nvidia Project Shield is Android-based and marries a 5 in (12.7 cm) touch-screen with joysticks, buttons and other controls, in a clam-shell design.
It is also designed to link to PCs offering access to more powerful games such as those on the Steam library.
The announcement was a surprise, as the US company has previously focused on selling chips and graphics cards to other manufacturers.
Intel, another chip manufacturer, is also reportedly working on its own device – a television set-top box.
Nvidia’s announcement came at the first major press conference of 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The company’s chief executive, Jen-Hsun Huang, did not reveal a release date or price for the device, but he did show off a working prototype and outline its specifications.
The console is bigger than an Xbox controller but smaller than the Wii U’s game-pad.
Its screen resolution is 720p, but the machine is capable of playing out games and video in the 4k standard – which offers eight times the detail – on compatible TVs via an HDMI cable.
At its heart is the firm’s new quad-core Tegra 4 chip – which Jen-Hsun Huang described as the fastest mobile processor on the market.
As well as keys representing the standard Android commands, the console also sports a “shield” button that takes users to a curated games store featuring titles selected from the Google Play marketplace. However, it can also be used to run other types of apps – Jen-Hsun Huang gave music players and Facebook as two examples.
Nvidia Project Shield is Android-based and marries a 5 in touch-screen with joysticks, buttons and other controls, in a clam-shell design
Using Wi-Fi it can also be paired with a computer containing one of Nvidia’s GeForce video cards to run PC games. In this case the desktop computer’s processors power the software, offering higher quality graphics than could be rendered by the mobile processor.
Jen-Hsun Huang boasted that “latency was so short it was as if you are connected to the PC” – playing down potential concerns that this kind of set-up might involve a delay between a user pressing a button on the console and the connected PC registering the command.
A demonstration involving titles from Valve’s Steam PC platform appeared to bear this out.
However, to avoid such latency issues, users will only be able to connect the console to a PC on the same home network – although Jen-Hsun Huang said it was an ambition to allow them to go “beyond the house” with future devices.
Nvidia’s move takes advantage of the growing number of games being released for the Android and Windows operating systems without it having to develop its own ecosystem – as is the case with the PlayStation, Wii and Xbox families.
However, it will have to convince consumers that they need a dedicated portable gaming console in addition to their other computing devices.
Earlier this year Sony had to cut sales forecasts for its PlayStation Vita hand-held – analysts linked the news to the growth of gaming on smartphones and tablets.
In addition, one industry watcher suggested Nvidia’s move would prove controversial with hardware makers that currently use its chips.
“It is a bit of a reach for Nvidia as it does not typically involve itself much with the end-user,” said Josh Walrath from the PC Perspective tech site.
“They normally have partners in between. So by doing such a thing you do have to wonder if they’re going to alienate any of their really close partners, and if they have the ability to get consumers to buy into it.”
A $10 million prize was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for whoever can create a Star Trek-like medical “tricorder”.
The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize has challenged researchers to build a tool capable of capturing “key health metrics and diagnosing a set of 15 diseases”.
It needs to be light enough for would-be Dr. McCoys to carry – a maximum weight of 5lb (2.2kg).
According to the official Star Trek technical manual, a tricorder is a portable “sensing, computing and data communications device”.
The kit captured the imagination of the show’s millions of viewers when it was first used in the cult series’ first broadcast in 1966.
In the show, which was set in the 23rd Century, the crew’s doctor was able to use the tricorder to diagnose an illness simply by scanning a person’s body.
According to the official Star Trek technical manual, a tricorder is a portable "sensing, computing and data communications device"
The award organizers hope the huge prize may inspire a present-day engineer to figure out the sci-fi gadget’s secret, and “make 23rd Century science fiction a 21st Century medical reality”.
“I’m probably the first guy who’s here in Vegas who would be happy to lose $10 million,” said X Prize Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis.
While the tricorder is obviously the stuff of science fiction, other X Prizes have become science fact.
In 2004, the Ansari X Prize for a privately funded reusable spacecraft was awarded to the team behind SpaceShipOne.
Much of the technology they developed was subsequently utilized by Virgin Galactic.
Prof. Jeremy Nicholson, head of the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, told the BBC there are already medical devices which detect chemical signs of illness to assist diagnosis.
However, he warned that bringing this technology together into one tricorder-sized piece of equipment would be a very daunting challenge.
“The most likely sort of technology would be something that detects metabolites,” Prof. Jeremy Nicholson said.
“What we use in our laboratory is big – the size of a Mini. The challenge is sticking it all into one device.”
Prof. Jeremy Nicholson thought “grand challenges” like the tricorder prize helped stimulate innovation, and are “good fun”.
But he doubted the Qualcomm Foundation would be awarding the prize any time soon.
“The challenges are: What is it you detect, what are the samples you can get and how do you put it all together in one gizmo?
“I don’t think there’ll be many people getting that prize in the near future.”
Even if the device could be made, he continued, testing and obtaining approval for medical use might take much longer.
However, for Peter Diamandis the mere fact the prize exists could transform healthcare.
“It’s not a single point solution. What we’re looking for is to launch a new industry,” he said.
“The tricorder that was used by Spock and Bones inspires a vision of what healthcare will be like in the future.
“It will be wireless, mobile and minimally- or non-invasive.
“It may use digital imaging, it may be sequencing your DNA on the spot to tell you if you are allergic to something you just ate.”
That may seem like an impossibly ambitious set of goals, but fortunately, for those trying to win the prize, one feature of the Star Trek tricorder is not needed.
“We don’t have a requirement that it makes the same noise,” Peter Diamandis said.