As smartphones grow more powerful and capable of multi-tasking, we look to new hardware designs that give us opportunities to tap into all that processing power. One idea that keeps popping up is giving smartphones multiple screens. From the Kyocera Echo, to some of our own dream phone ideas, we’ve talked about lots of way of implementing such a design. Design school student Baek Kil Hyun came up with an interesting twist on the idea, dubbed the 360, using a pair of smaller screens as “shutters” that close over the phone’s main screen.
With both shutters open, you could work on your main app on the large center screen while running widgets or other secondary apps off to the sides. Fold them back even farther, and you’d end up with screens on both the front and the back of the phone (we hope they’re fingerprint-resistant).
The design also calls for using one or more of the screens to help prop the phone up. You could fold the design to keep the main screen raised at a comfortable angle for viewing, while still using one of the shutter screens as a virtual keyboard. By tilting both shutters in a little, you could even stand the phone up on its edge in landscape orientation, like a triptych painting.
So, cool options, but is this a practical design? One thing missing from all these multi-screen ideas is strong OS support. Even the options Kyocera came up with seem a bit hacked-together. If one of the goals of Honeycomb was to give Android support for larger screens, maybe multiple display mode should be on the to-do list for a future Android release. There’s plenty of time, as this concept phone, at least, won’t be in stores anytime soon.