Flexible displays – the next big thing?
Ok, so say we got rid off the newspapers with Apple iPad. Then there’s a research project being run in University of New South Wales in Australia for creating flexible display to give you back the ”paper” feeling, when reading your newspaper on a display rather than on paper. They envision using flexible polymer-based backplanes printed on plastic substrates for low manufacturing costs, durable and flexible displays. But putting newspaper on a display and then creating a display, which is like a traditional newspaper: does it not sound a bit like one worker digging a hole and the other one following and filling it again? I know, we're saving tons of paper, but STILL! Whether you agree or not, this set me thinking: what are the real uses of a flexible display technology?
At Planar, we experimented with curved and twisted glass surfaces which we made a display with our electroluminescent technology. This technology has the advantage of being able to create transparent displays. Having curved transparent (TASEL) displays is something in the development stages. People who see our samples at the shows say: ”Great that it’s curved! But is it just solid glass, not flexible?” Hmmm no, not flexible. But where would you need it to be flexible?
Having a wristwatch which is a display on a flexible display surface, why not. Being able to actually turn the pages of a newspaper physically rather than just wiping my hand over the screen or waving in front of it, nice. Or for extraordinary design effects, well yes!
In EE Times in June Christoph Hammerschmidt writes about the flexible display technologies being the future of displays. His main argument for the success is that “flexible displays don’t break”. He continues promising 58% expected annual sales growth by 2018 for the flexibles amounting to over 8 billion US dollars, while others don’t grow at all.
YouTube seemed to have an answer waiting for me, in the form of a video by Plastic Logic, who incidentally work in cooperation with the UNSW in Australia on their flexible displays project, perhaps the same group who made the video..? The video is titled: ”Plastic Logic - Why Flexible Displays?”.
But to me this only shows “what are flexible displays like” and I still didn’t explain why and where just these qualities would be vital and needed where other displays couldn’t do the job. Perhaps the durability and light-weight could be appreciated in consumer applications such as mobile phones and reading devices, like E-Ink, or for professional users in the military.