Samsung is no stranger to foldable OLED screens, leading the charge with flexible smartphones like the Galaxy Fold 3 – but the latest demonstration from the South Korean IMID expo (opens in new tab) shows that Samsung could also have some other things in mind.
A video uploaded by OLED-Info (opens in new tab) shows that Samsung is, among other things, working on some kind of smart speaker with a flexible OLED display – on that wraps around the cylindrical speaker but can unfurl into a flat display.
IMID is the annual International Meeting on Information Display expo that kicked off in late August, and can offer all kinds of prototype designs of products yet to come.
It's very possible that the speaker / display acts as a proof of concept more than anything else – as suggested by the chunk speaker shape and rather sluggish unfurling motion – but it does hint at what flexible panels could do to other product ranges beyond the humble smartphone – if Samsung ever gets round to fixing its smart speaker release schedule, that is.
Analysis: The Samsung Galaxy Home of the future?
It's important to keep in mind Samsung's rather abysmal track record when it comes to actually releasing smart speakers. We heard plenty of rumors and tidbits about an upcoming Samsung Galaxy Home smart speaker as far back as 2017 – a premium device that would take on the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod Mini and rely on Samsung's own Bixby smart assistant.
A still-live info page (opens in new tab) for the speaker says the following: "Use your voice to change the tunes. Galaxy Home is the AI speaker that allows you to use the smart home voice assistant Bixby to access and control your music. It has eight microphones built in so it can recognize your voice even from a distance. Galaxy Home's stylish round body and tripod legs stand sturdily on a table or the floor, and look great in your home interior. Tuned by AKG, Galaxy Home doesn't just make your music more convenient, it gives it a beautiful sound as well."
In 2021, there's still no sign of the speaker, and we expect to see Samsung release a scaled down Galaxy Home Mini before (or even instead of) the original intended speaker. Samsung accidentally released a press release for this Mini iteration in early 2020, but again it has yet to hit the market.
The push into foldables could be giving Samsung pause, and making its designers wonder whether a more innovative smart display, with a screen that can roll out of the speaker, might be a better way to enter the market with a splash.