Starting the day scheduled for January 8, 2013, CES 2013 should be the stage for the announcement of several amazing products and for presenting concepts totally unprecedented. However, the technology that should gain prominence among the companies that will participate in the event is one: the flexible displays.
Although not exactly a novelty among those who follow news related to the world of technology, these devices have long been presented as a simple promise of the future. Story that should change next year due to the efforts of companies like Samsung and Sharp, already working on ways to incorporate the new screens in products available to the general public.
This article presents some of the reasons why this technology is calling so much attention from industry. Check out the reasons why, in the near future, you’ll probably have in your home at least one device equipped with a flexible screen.
If the plans of industries such as Samsung, Sharp, Sony and Corning (just to name a few examples) are implemented in a matter of a few years our lives will be invaded by flexible displays. Newspapers, coffee cups, car dashboards, refrigerators, kitchen counters, sides of buildings and backpacks are just some of the places we will be invaded by the novelty.
“There’s a wide world of possibilities for flexible displays,” he told USA Today the researcher Jeff Demain, the Circuits and Systems Lab at Intel. “Within five years, all surfaces will turn into screens,” he predicts.
“Consumers love to be able to bend or fold devices,” the publication said Bob O’Donnell, market analyst company IDC. “Instead of carrying a phone or tablet, you could just deploy a large screen,” he adds.
Despite the encouraging promises made by many professionals involved in the development of technology, it is expected that the first flexible displays discreetly emerge in handsets already well established. Smartphones and tablets should be responsible for the large commercial debut novelty, something that should happen by 2013.
Method of differentiation
The first wave of flexible displays should be used more as a way to differentiate products than a way to change the format of electronic devices. Currently, most who bet it is Samsung, which must present its first line of appliances with the technology within a few months.
OLED screens produced by the company are designed to be a technology gap “in cell” created by Sharp, which integrates touch sensors to liquid crystal panels. When using plastic as raw material, the South Korean company wants to offer consumers screens that are virtually unbreakable, whose manufacturing cost would be lower than the displays produced today.
According to the vice president of the unit displays from Samsung, Lee Chang-hoon, new product prototypes are already being tested by selected customers. But he said it is too early to determine the date on which devices will make their debut to the general public.
The promise to have at hand a screen made of virtually unbreakable plastic, lightweight and flexible anima engineers from several companies. The expectation is that in 2018, technologies such move no less than $ 8.2 billion – in 2008, that number did not exceed $ 85 million.
“Flexible displays have been the subject of conversations in the last 10 years,” said Pat Moorhead, chairman of the market research firm Moor Insights & Strategy. “Now, the focus is on creating products,” he adds. See below a list of some of the ways in which new technology can be employed:
Bracelets: relying on the HP, soon the armed forces of the United States will use bracelets able to establish communication between soldiers, also acting as GPS devices. The devices, which are sewn to military uniforms, can also act as a form of technical information related to the repair of vehicles damaged in battle.
Kitchen countertops : the vision of Microsoft, the homes of the future will be equipped with full kitchens branch touch. A marble surface can be equipped with a screen through which it will be possible to follow recipes or TV programs transmitted from an overhead projector installed on the ceiling of the room – according to Jonathan Cluts, director of prototypes of the company, this technology could become a item-default within five years.
Cars: besides serving as a means to display information, flexible displays can act as a way to change the color of the car you will buy in the future. It ensures that Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, which in 2011 presented to the public the Fun-Vii, vehicle connected to the internet employing displays placed on the outside to change your appearance.
Buildings: the technology must also change the way advertising is displayed on our streets. How are extremely durable and resistant, the screens can be used in public without being harmed by the elements like rain. Although they are still restricted to a few museums and metro stations very specific screens soon should invade buildings more common – the expectation is that China is the first to adopt the technology on a mass scale in their buildings.
For the flexible displays actually gain space in the world of technology will require that area companies can overcome many technical obstacles. The main one is to develop substrate (layer on which electronic components are placed) that have the same durability and flexibility of the new screens.
This process has proved very expensive, consuming an amount of time that does not fit the rhythm of an industrial plant. “There are several challenges that must be overcome. None bigger than the displays that use glass in its composition, “said Pat Moorhead, of Moor Insights & Strategy.
The difficulties faced by companies and the large number of sales of fabrics available today were undoubtedly factors that slowed the development of new technology. According to Mark Fihn, responsible for Veritas et Visus, publication specialized in the mass production of the new screens will only occur when the industry adopt a method based on manufacturing rollers similar to those used to print newspapers.
Among the companies that have already demonstrated the feasibility of the process is Corning (component supplier to Apple and Samsung, among other companies) and LG, which already announced the start of mass production of its proprietary electronic paper. Companies like E Ink, Plastic Logics, Infinite Power Solutions and Universal Display are also interested in the area, but the transition to new methods of production still occurs at a slow pace.
During this transition phase, flexible displays with reduced dimensions should be present in security badges, loyalty cards and stickers indicating the price of products in shops and supermarkets. According Janos Veres, team leader of printable electronics Palo Alto Research Center, the adoption of new technology in the end it is basically a game that involves a mixture of anticipation and patience.
What is your opinion?
And you, what you think about it? Believes the new flexible screens will actually gain space in our daily lives or think this is all mere reverie of some members of the industry? Register your opinion on the subject and tell us about your expectations involving new technology in our comments section.