For decades the displays were simply flat pieces of glass or plastic that dictate the design of our technology. But recently, engineers and manufacturers have been shaking up on curved screens, more and more of which can be found on computer monitors, televisions and phones. Now the question is: what next? By agreeing bent displays with devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and LG G Flex, released that same year, manufacturers are looking for bent displays to help advance technology. Flexible displays have the potential to become one of the biggest breakthroughs in technology in the decade, releasing designers to create devices we’ve never seen before. But what exactly is a flexible display and why do the most influential technology companies around the world see this as the next big thing? Here are five most important things about flexible screens:
1. Bendable does not mean curved: Although the curved screens are impressive, they are not the same as the ones that are bent. Traditionally, liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are sandwiches with materials that include backlight, polarizer, thin film transistor, liquid crystals, filter glass and polarizer. LCDs are usually flat, but several companies like Samsung have managed to produce curved. The recently released LED ecosystem (OLED) has gained popularity thanks to its simplified design, better image quality and flexibility. OLED displays do not require backlighting, so they can be thinned and moulded into specific shapes such as the curved display on the Samsung Galaxy S7. Flexibility, thinness and excellent image quality make OLED a better choice for curved screens, and it is clear that the OLED will turn off the LCD TV in the future. OLEDs are currently too expensive to produce large screens such as televisions and computer monitors, but prices will eventually fall. Although LCDs contain more layers than OLED, both types of screens may still be bent. Apple Japan Display announced this week that it is developing a 5.5-inch, full HD LCD display. The company hopes the display will use a plastic substrate that has traditionally been made of non-removable glass. As impressive as the curved screens, they show that they further deepen the engineering and material science. Engineers need to come up with a way to create materials that will not break down under repeated bending stress, keeping a consistent image on the screen. This is a huge challenge, but one technology maker takes over when we talk.
2. Durability is a huge plus Point: One of the biggest advantages of the bent display is that it makes gadgets more durable. Flexible displays may bend under the influence, so broken screens can be a thing of the past when they are bent. However, it will take some time before the unpredictable phone displays. It is assumed today that bending screens will use plastic instead of glass, but the plastic itself is not invincible as it can still crack if in sufficient stress. Manufacturers like Corning are currently working on a flexible glass called the Willow, which is planned to be put into everything from telephones to televisions to carry devices. The willow is as thick as a piece of paper and can be bent too. But Willow will continue to break if it gets too much rounded up, so you have to do what you can do when it comes to really neat glass screens.
3. Samsung and LG are behind bent displays, and Apple may also be: The three largest mobile manufacturers are reportedly experimenting with flexible displays. The most important feature of the Galaxy X is that its display will be made up outside, allowing users to convert their phones into 7-inch tablets. LG is said to come out with its own neat smartphone, which also rests outside to form a tablet. Patent drawings represent a conceptual LG phone that has a foldable display that can be used even after bending. Apple is considering the use of displays for the iPhone, according to 9to5Mac, but in the near future we probably will not see a folding iPhone. Although the tech giant is considering using the bending LCD display on the iPhone in 2018.
4. Potential applications: One of the main questions about bent displays is why? Why a phone or tablet that may be bent? The biggest advantage of flexible display is durability. Because the screen can be bent and manipulated, it can also absorb impact better than the solid glass structures we currently have. Other technologies could also benefit from new technologies. For example, wearing apparel can use flexible displays that contrast with our bodies, such as smart looks, that better shape our wrists. Phones can also take the form of a new format, similar to the Lenovo Cplus prototype, which starts as a thin handset but folds into a wrist. Samsung experimented with the introduction of curved displays on its original Galaxy Gear S smartphone, but moved to a more traditional flat, rounded Galaxy Gear S3. Even today, the non-existent Microsoft group presents a curved display. With curved displays, intelligent observers can theoretically have massive screens that surround the wrist to display even more information at once. Cars could also use curved screens as more and more dashboards are digital. For example, the Mercedes E-Class displays infotainment indicators and infotainment data on a 12.3-inch HD display that extends on the dashboard. The Tesla and X models have a huge 17 inch central display, but you can use a curved screen to make the outline look natural on the car’s dashboard.
5. The biggest challenges: The concept of bent displays is not new, because gadget manufacturers appear to be displaying them on large shows like CES and MWC annually, but no one has brought a flexible display to the market yet. Why? Since bending the display is difficult, crafting a device that uses one effectively is even more difficult. In order to create a flexible product, manufacturers need to know how to make each component flexible. Batteries are particularly difficult to bend because current technology requires batteries to keep its shape. After being bent, today’s batteries are short-circuited and, if shorted too far in the housing, can explode. Both LG and Samsung have been working on a flexible battery for many years, but the technology is still not available. So far, the only way to use a curved display is to make a device that bends on the hinge. We thought that this concept works with the Lenovo Yoga Book, which is equipped with a touch screen and a touch pad that doubles as a drawing tablet. With the hinge, device manufacturers can potentially use fixed batteries and silicon, but add a fold to them. We are still waiting for the first device to go to the market, but when it arrives, we can expect durability and endless possibilities of design and innovation. Over the past few years, the patterns of phones and tablets have been outdated, and flexible displays can make them exciting again.
———–( The author currently pursuing M.tech in VLSI Design and Embedded Systems at Visveswaraya Technological University Belagavi, Karnataka. The views expressed by author are her own but not of “Kashmir Horizon”)