As many of the comments on a post I wrote on Friday point out, I can at times be shortsighted to potential applications of new technology. When it comes to flexible display technology, however, I practically have telescopic vision. Well at least as far as Hollywood has shown me.
On Monday, Hewlett-Packard and the Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University announced the purported first prototype of what they call affordable, unbreakable flexible electronic displays.
For the uninitiated, a flexible display is a paperlike computer display that's made almost entirely out of plastic. According to HP, these displays consume less power than traditional computer displays and of course are more easily portable. They are also said to use up to 90 percent fewer materials than traditional displays by volume.
The press release states that "mass production of such displays can enable production of notebook computers, smart phones and other electronic devices at much lower costs since the display is one of the more costly components," but we'll have to wait and see if costs on these devices are actually lowered because of this technology.
The displays were created via a process called self-aligned imprint lithography (SAIL). SAIL purportedly enables thin film transistors to be fabricated on a flexible, plastic material in a roll-to-roll manufacturing process. According to HP, this allows for a more low-cost continuous production, rather than batch sheet-to-sheet production.
To create the display, FDC produces semiconductor materials and metals on flexible polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) substrates. Using the SAIL process HP then patterns the substrates and then integrates E Ink's Vizplex imaging film to produce the display on plastic.
OK, I'm going to be honest. I have no idea what that was I just typed but it sounds like it could be possible and I figured those interested in the technology would want some details.
Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst from iSuppli, an electronics market intelligence firm, expects the flexible display market to grow from $80 million in 2007 to $2.8 billion by 2013.
So yeah, what can this be used for other than cell phones, PDAs, monitors and TVs? Well I can see newspapers and magazines getting in on this at some point and how best to make a product at the grocery store stick out on the shelf than by putting an actual video on the box?
Yes, those last two examples are once again from Minority Report, but they had more cool (and plausible) future tech stuff than even Back to the Future 2. Where else can you guys see this tech being applied?