Are Flexible Screens Really the Future?
Technology is evolving at an exponential rate. We are now living in a time where tech products that were once the mere imaginings of sci-fi have become reality. Just look at things like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).
Mobile phones have seen some of the biggest transformations in the last decade, providing us with constant access to the internet as well as offering us AI and VR – smartphones now incorporate the latest tech trends.
So, what’s the next great leap forward in tech?
If the rumours are true, and so often they are when it comes to tech announcements, there seems to be one particular direction in which many tech and smartphone companies seem to be going: flexible screens.
We have already seen some examples of flexible screens. In February, LG used ISE 2017 in Amsterdam to demo its 65-inch Flexible Open Frame OLEDs, with 4K resolution of course. Thanks to how thin OLED technology is, these Flexible Open Frame OLEDs are able to be bent either convex or concave, enabling the displays to fit any environment.
LG has even revealed rollable, flexible and transparent panels, however, these all remain proof-of-concept displays at the moment.
The ability to have a flexible screen seems to be a desirable feature for many companies, with smartphone manufacturers seemingly competing to be the first to launch a flexible, bendy, foldable phone.
So, who will be the first to launch one?
For the last couple of years, the rumour mill has been churning out claims that Apple’s next flagship will have a flexible screen. However, Apple is still yet to launch such a device.
The majority of rumours now suggest the first truly flexible product will come from South Korea, being launched by either Apple’s rival Samsung or LG.
As we have already seen, LG has some experience in this technology, and the anticipation surrounding the LG G6 shows the company is set to become a major contender in the smartphone market.
Samsung has also been surrounded by rumours of its next flagship being flexible in some way. In 2011, Samsung revealed a prototype for a foldable phone, and numerous leaks seem to suggest the firm is working on the tech.
Could 2017 be the year a flexible product is launched, or does the technology still have a little way more to go before we can get our hands on such a device? And will this tech even catch on?
According to the latest market forecast by IDTechEx, plastic and flexible displays are set to grow rapidly from a market of $2bn in 2016 to $18bn by 2020.
Senior market analyst at Futuresource Consulting, Jack Wetherill, explained: “In the short term we’re looking at phones, TVs, tablets and wearables such as smartwatches.” If that’s just in the short term, who knows where this tech could take us next.
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