Inductive screens typically use magnetized styluses to induce a field in a sensing layer at the back of the display. This kind of layer is not inherently sensitive to flexing, and some are already commercially available. But most flexible displays feature a very thin stainless-steel backplane that allows the display to flex while maintaining enough rigidity to protect it from damage. And these metallic backplanes act as a barrier to the electromagnetic fields that make inductive touch screens work.
To get around this, the FDC team uses an alternative backplane material: a thin-film plastic material made by DuPont called Teonex polyethylene napthalate (PEN). This material is already widely used in thin-film transistor manufacturing. It provides support for the display while allowing the inductive touch layer to work, says Kaminski.
I would be just fine with rolling up my ebook reader and tucking it under my arm.
I’m kinda betting that capacitive touchscreens will eventually win because there won’t be a stylus to lose. Tech review is right that indium tin oxide might not be the best thing, but there are plenty of flexible conductive things out there, and if you can’t put it behind the screen for electrical reasons (and readers won’t get used to ghost-pointing from behind) then you just make the layer thin enough. You don’t need much conduction for a capacitive sensor.
Heck, even ultrasonic or optical touch sensors could work with enough R&D — the signals get distorted, but computing power for unraveling that distortion is pretty much free on a machine that’s already downloading ebooks and managing a graphical interface.