The future of LCD is flexible

Paul Cain, Strategy Director

August 07, 2018

I’ve been in the display industry for the past 17 years, and I never cease to be amazed by the ability of LCD to reinvent itself. Time and again, as alternative display technologies emerge, questions arise about LCD’s future, prompting new developments that defy expectations and demonstrate its versatility. 

Over the last 20 years, LCD displays have become thinner and lighter, and have expanded to larger sizes, as well as offering huge increases in screen performance, including resolution, colour, contrast, brightness and refresh rate. The next evolution is set to bring these developments to more products than ever before – the future lies with flexible displays.

Our organic LCD (OLCD) technology makes use of carbon-based, rather than silicon, transistors, allowing us to sidestep the limitations of flat screens and embrace curved surfaces. This novel feature will bring many benefits to both existing and future products, and there are three key areas where our technology stands to make a significant positive impact. The most obvious application for flexible OLCD is as a replacement for glass LCD screens in products – such as tablets, laptops and TVs – that will benefit from thinner, lighter or unbreakable displays. There’s also the potential to make borderless screens without the bezel or border around their edge, which enlarges the usable screen space, as well as simply being more aesthetically pleasing.

Wearable - borderless screensSecondly, there are many existing display products whose utility is constrained by a small display, whose size is limited because there is little flat surface available. Flexible displays will offer a step change in utility here. Take a smart watch for example; you could easily have a threefold increase in display surface area once you bend the display, opening up many new use cases for consumer and industrial / enterprise prodcuts. Car dashboards can also benefit from a much bigger display if the screen is curved, offering higher information content and removing the almost the last flat surface from your car.

Finally, there is the limitless possibility of adding displays to everyday objects or surfaces that can’t make effective use of glass displays. This will introduce new, previously unattainable, functionality into our homes, offices and cars. One particular application that is gaining traction is using OLCD displays on the inside of the A-pillar in your car. Combined with an external camera, you can make the pillar ‘invisible’, increasing visibility and improving safety.

OLCD is set to transform the world around us. Thanks to the existing, low-cost manufacturing supply chain for LCDs, it’s a small step for designers to begin developing the next generation of products that take advantage of the flexibility afforded by this innovative technology.

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