The Foldable Computer Screen: Invented in... Holland!What do the CD-Rom, DVD, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have in common? They were all invented in The Netherlands. Wi-Fi was invented by Vic Hayes, the CD-Rom and DVD by Philips and Bluetooth by Jaap Haartsen. And now they invented the foldable phone.

Polymer Vision, a company started within Philips and recently spun off, has just announced a 5-inch (13-cm) foldable LCD screen to be used in a mobile phone. They beat the iPhone and Amazon Kindle (interview with Amazon CTO about this device) with this technology that has been predicted many times before but up till now was little more than a fantasy. But now the foldable phone is here and it is called the ‘Readius’.

A prototype of the Readius was shown two years ago and is now being produced so it will be avilable in stores in the second quarter of 2008. Karl McGoldrick, the CEO of Polymer Vision said “We are taking e-reading and bringing it to the mobile phone.”. How much this will cost is unclear but likely more than your average phone. Within a few years McGoldrick hopes to be able to offer a screen in full color that will be able to show streaming video.

The Readius won’t have a keyboard at first and will act merely as a reading device with built-in phone. You will have to sync the device to your home computer to get email settings, ebooks and websites which you will then be able to read and interact with using the devices 8 keys. No iPhone-like touchscreen capabilities for now.

It will be interesting to see if an relatively unknown company from a small country in Europe can compete with Apple, Nokia and even Microsoft just by being innovative in one particular area: a folding screen.

At first I was pessimistic about their prospects but Philips, which still has a 25% stake in the company, has been very successful with the CD-Rom and DVD and numerous other products and technologies in the past and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were invented in The Netherlands too. So you never know…

A real and live demo of a working Readius: