Flexible OLCD applications
Flexible OLCDs can conform to surfaces almost anywhere, uniquely combining the strengths of LCD – scalable, low cost, bright with long lifetime – with the flexible freedom of organic electronics.
OLCD is a glass-free display technology that combines the benefits of LCD with the inherent flexibility of a high-performance organic-thin-film transistor (OTFT) backplane (which replaces the amorphous-silicon backplane used in glass displays). It enables conformable and shapeable displays that can be cost-effectively scaled to large area sizes in the same way glass LCD is scaled.
OLCD offers game-changing opportunities for mass market applications.
Smart home devices
With the huge market potential smart devices offer, brands face pressure to continually innovate and differentiate their products from the competition. New products have unique shapes and curves meaning that conventional glass-based displays cannot be used without compromising the design. For example, many smart speaker designs today are round or cylindrical, but glass displays are flat which limits their incorporation in curved form factors. By using OLCD, wrap-around screens are possible – they provide a better user experience by enabling new audio-visual use cases without compromising the product design and aesthetics.
Displays will play an ever more important role for creating a customisable, personalisable and safer car interior.
The dominant active-matrix display technology in vehicles today is LCD made on glass. These glass LCDs are often the only flat surfaces left in the vehicle, disrupting the form and flow of the interior space and limiting ergonomic options for designers. Replacing these flat panel displays with OLCD screens that can conform to the vehicle interior shape and curves will allow for their seamless integration and improved aesthetics of the car interior.
Curved displays can also be used as 'digital' side-view mirrors (in combination with cameras) - they can increase safety by widening the field of view as well as contributing to fuel efficiency in comparison with the external side-view mirrors. Novares showed an example of a 'digital' side-mirror in Nova Car 2 using a curved display by FlexEnable - the display is integrated into the corner between the A-pillar, the instrument panel and the door panel.
Notebooks and tablets
While both flexible OLED and flexible OLCD would allow thinner and lighter screens in this application, the cost of flexible OLED for notebook-sized displays is currently very high, though costs will fall over the coming years. Flexible OLCD cost structure is similar to glass LCDs – it uses many of the same low cost components in its construction except the glass, making it at least 100g lighter and 0.5mm thinner for a notebook-sized display. Moreover, OLCD enables bezel-less displays allowing laptops and tablets with larger displays without increasing the weight.
TVs and monitors
LCD TVs are lower cost and dominate the TV market, but haven’t been able to achieve the ultra-high contrast performance of OLED TVs.
The extreme thinness of OLCD cells, built onto TAC films that are ten times thinner than display glass, brings major optical advantages to so-called dual-cell LCDs, increasing the contrast to one million to one at the single pixel level, giving blacks as deep as OLED but with the higher brightness of LCD.
Equally OLCD can be combined with miniLED backlights with local dimming to give the thinnest ever miniLED displays, whilst benefitting from all the parallel innovations in backlight performance such as quantum dot colour enhancement, resulting in brighter more colourful TVs.
Digital signage is a powerful tool for creating and distributing content with applications across multiple industries including retail, street furniture and transportation. High information digital signs today typically use glass LCDs, but the weight becomes a significant factor for larger displays, where strong supporting gantries or frames are often needed. For smaller displays the fragility of glass, combined with lack of flexibility limits the choice of surface that can be used to mount the display, for example on vehicles, bicycles or around pillars and posts.
Flexible LCD provides all of the benefits of LCD for advertising in terms of brightness, colour performance, video-rate capability and cost, but with the clear advantage of being glass-free, thin, light and conformable. It can be scaled to large sizes allowing even large digital signage displays to be conformed to pillars, street furniture, vehicle exteriors and retail interiors.
FlexEnable is already working with leading consumer electronics brands across many exciting application areas that redefine where and how displays are used in our everyday lives.
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