Korean tech giant Samsung showed off its first flexible OLED display panels at CES last January, creating speculation that future smartphones and tablets could benefit from the bendable, “unbreakable” design. Earlier this week, Samsung also began shipping curved OLED TVs – tangible proof of the company’s commitment to flexible screen technology. Now, Samsung is asking the public for ideas about how best to utilize this emerging technology – and the company is offering cash prizes for the best applications.
The contest, which opens on August 29 and will continue accepting applications until October 6, will award a $10,000 grand prize alongside a $5,000 first prize and a $2,500 second prize. It is targeting those who already have professional connections with the tech industry.
“We are calling on the most innovative designers, hardware engineers, and entrepreneurs to develop new product ideas that put our revolutionary Flexible Display technology to use in ways that will define the future,” says the official contest page.
Samsung isn’t simply asking for a unique or innovative idea – the contest requires a business plan to back it up. The official rules are broken into four categories:
“Flexible display is a key part of your product.” The product must be dependent on the bendable screen, unable to exist with current alternatives.
“Plan feasibility.” The product must be highly desirable to consumers and attractive to investors.
“Timeline abstractions.” Samsung will not provide a timeline for product development, so contestants can estimate future milestones such as prototyping, testing, and shipping.
“Cost assumptions.” Samsung will not give cost information regarding the flexible display panels, so contestants are asked to focus on the product’s value to consumers more than the price of a finished product.
Samsung requires contestants to respond to 14 questions and provide a sketch of their envisioned product. Samsung also requires that submitted ideas make use of flexible display panels that are between one and 20 inches in size and up to 1920 x 1080 pixels. There are also four screen types: plane, bendable, foldable, and rollable.
For the winning contestants, Samsung did not specify if they would actually get a prototype component to work with. The tech giant also included fine print regarding ownership of the submitted ideas:
“Samsung is continuously innovating, and may develop information that is similar to materials submitted in this contest, so only non-confidential information should be submitted.”
The official rules also state: “By submitting an Entry, Contestant grants to Samsung the irrevocable, royalty-free right to use all or a portion of the submitted materials, along with the Contestant’s name, company name, trademarks and logos, in any promotional materials produced by Samsung.”
This may lead some potential contestants to think twice about submitting their groundbreaking ideas.
“Realize that whether you win or lose, Samsung now owns your idea,” said Android Authority.
But then again – not many people have the opportunity to work side-by-side with such a major company or utilize technology that only a few top-tier manufacturers are capable of getting their hands on. Even if Samsung owns the idea, would-be inventors are guaranteed to get a lot of exposure in the tech world.