FLEX is a mobile phone concept that resulted from an exploration on how to design for attachment with digital products. What makes FLEX special, is that it is adaptive to individual user’s actions and usage. The adaptation is open-ended and continuous and affects the phone in appearance, in interaction, in functionality, and digital content.

Interaction with FLEX

In FLEX, specific in- and output components (camera, LED, speaker, microphone, GPS, and keyboard) are located at the border of the screen. A flexible rim is placed around the components. By gently flexing the rim of the phone around one of the components, the applications that are relevant for that component appear. For example, by flexing the speaker, applications like Spotify, Soundcloud, and myRadio, are presented. The applications appear in order of relevance: the more they are used, the sooner they appear and the larger the icons.

Elements of Attachment in FLEX

FLEX was designed as a translation of the elements of attachment that resulted from research on attachment with digital products .

The rim of FLEX offers short cuts to often-used applications: Pushing it in one resolute movement will directly open the most-used application for that component. This rim behavior is expected to result in short cuts and personalized interaction, and forms an example of the element ‘Knowing each other’.

In FLEX, applications are not actively stored on the phone. Instead, the phone gives seamless access to the ‘App Store’ within the user interface. This means that there is a continuous invitation to explore new types of applications. This offers the flexibility and ability to specialize in functionality, and forms a translation of the element ‘Creating Focus’.

The flexible rim is made of a silicone outside with a highly viscous core. The core slowly moves to the sides in the places that are used a great many times, which deforms the rim in those areas. The deformed locations in the rim are thinner, so rim becomes more flexible around the often-used components, leading to more comfortable usage (representing the element ‘Knowing each other’). With time, the deformations in the rim the phone will show use patterns to the user and to others, which links to ‘Reflecting identity’ and ‘Sharing memories’.