Smartphones are everywhere, especially in America. Gone are the days of the flip phone, or the standard cellphone; if you don't have a smartphone, you're behind the times. According to the Pew Research Center, by 2015 68% of American adults owned a smartphone, meaning nearly 7 out of every 10 people you saw on the streets had one in their hands or pockets.
But what comes with smartphones? If you have even one clumsy bone in your body, broken phone screens and cell phone repairs.
Since they first came out in 2007, Americans have spent nearly $10.7 billion on iPhone repairs. There are many types of cell phone repair services, but with smartphones, the most common appear to be screen based.
No real surprise given that a small drop can completely destroy your phone screen.
Cell phone screen repairs are a hassle, and can even mean replacing your phone entirely depending on the damages. Thankfully, there appears to be a new type of screen repair service on the horizon.
Self-healing phone screens.
You read that right: A phone screen that heals itself.
Researchers at the University of California Riverside have recently developed a special polymer that can heal itself, giving a smartphone the ability to fuse cracks and remove scratches. According to the developers, the material is able to stretch up to 50 times its original size. This means that scratches don't have to be permanent.
When completely cracked it can also fuse itself together again within 24 hours.
This is not the first self-healing phone material, there have been others in the past, but this is the first to not have issues with humidity, which can negatively affect the structure of the material.
There has also been talk about using the same material to create batteries for smartphones in the future, an exciting prospect for anyone that suffers from short battery life.
The new polymer is not yet ready for mass production, of course, as the developers want to refine and improve it to survive harsher elements. They predict that they could have a working model within the next three years.
What does this mean for the phone industry? Possibly a change in the types of cell phone repair services available. They'll adapt with the times, likely, but not too quickly. Like all nice things, this new self-repairing screen will likely be out of budget for most.
Give it a few years after it comes to the market, and maybe it'll be more widespread. Until then, the rest of us will have to deal with our screens cracking whenever we try to take a particularly interesting selfie.
Give us your thoughts on the self-healing phone screen -- or just give us a call the next time you drop your expensive new phone.