As we know it
Going by the past trend of a slew of electronic products, starting from laptops to smartphones, it implied a dictum of 'thin is beautiful'. But now, as the chimes of rampant technological evolution are sounding at all corners of the electronic realm, the dictum should be changed to 'flexibly ultra-thin is beautiful'. Now you may ask, why? Well, the simple answer is: in a space of just two years, there has been a fascinating spurt of flexible display technologies (most of them in developmental stage), ranging from HTC phones, Nokia Kinetic Future to Kodak Televisions.
Need for change
Then again, amidst this brouhaha over flexible, bendable gadgets, are there any significant advantages of such devices, other than their avant-garde factor? According to pundits and analysts, the answer is comprehensively yes. The primary point in favor of them is obviously the improved essence of portability. But beyond mobility, the technology in itself makes the components easier to store and improve upon their hardiness (from cracking and scratching). Finally, we are also looking at the price factor, and how such systems can allude to a better cost effective alternative.
1. Samsung Flexible AMOLED
The very recent uproar in the flexible display domain was caused by none other than the Korean giant Samsung. The company has quite nonchalantly put forth that they will start shipping their 'bendy screen' gadgets by 2012. Aptly touted as the 'tablet of the future’, the ductile displays would be just around 0.3mm thick, while their high-tech bearing will feature a myriad of attributes: starting from instant translation, video and never before seen level of three dimensional image quality.
What difference will it make
We may be smitten by the plethora of features that will supposedly be offered by Samsung's Flexible AMOLED technology. But beyond the glittery essence of attributes, it is the very basic idea that really would appeal to the consumers. Just imagine that your device (a smartphone or a tablet) can be rolled up like a newspaper or even stretched out for different tasks! And if you thought that was cool, Samsung is also talking about complete transparency of the screen (which means we can see right through it). Of course, it is not just about the screen's highfalutin nature. Users can certainly utilize the display to watch videos, read e-books, surf the net and occasionally snap neat pictures.
Technically speaking, flexible OLED are comprised of a plastic substrate on which the electroluminescent organic semiconductor gets deposited. Now, this plastic substrate along with the physical process of bending and thermal effect can induce an element of stress for the OLED material. Long term exposure to such type of stresses can result in reduction of efficiency and brightness of the device. Moreover, according to Samsung, the transparency of the screens can also cause some predicaments, related to the availability of equally transparent batteries (and other internal components).
2. Nokia's kinetic future: flexible screens
Nokia Research Center certainly has a lot of feathers tucked in its cap, starting from speech and channel codec found in almost all GSM phones to creating the world's very first music based ringtone. But this time the organization has really notched it up a level with their Kinetic concept. The conceptualization entails a real OLED display with all the circuitry of a modern day computing system. The only difference is that all of it is bendable, both along the vertical and horizontal planes. The intrinsic flexibility of the device is not just exemplified by its bending, because a twisting mechanism is also applicable in other circumstances.
What difference will it make
Now, many of us may be fascinated by all these twisting and bending, but in the practical scheme of things, such motional attributes do have their own set of functionalities. For example, the twisting in opposite directions will allow the device to scroll through a wealth of multimedia collection, including videos and photos. While, the bending motion will allow the users to zoom the photos, along with a pause and play function for music. This means, one can interact and operate with his portable device, without actually having to look at it. On the other hand, this will also solve the predicaments relating to conventional touch interfaces (where the magnitude of touch and other factors are related to the response).
Other than the stress factor (mentioned earlier), flexible OLEDs are also more susceptible to the adverse effects of external air and moisture. So, the developers do need to come up with a efficient encapsulation technology, which would take the place of glass (like Gorilla Glass) protection found in conventional high-end mobile devices.