Screens that fold and roll will arrive as early as next year

Screens that can roll up could appear in tablets that fold into the shape of smartphones

Displays that can be folded and rolled up have been shown in prototype smartphones, wearables and other devices -- but when will such products be available?

Advances in technology suggest they aren't too far off in the future. Such devices could start showing up as early as next year or 2018, said Jerry Kang, senior principal analyst for emerging display technologies and OLED at IHS.

Manufacturers are trying to launch them in devices like tablets that can fold into a smartphone-size device. It's possible to use these displays in wearable devices, but reliability, weight and battery life need to be considered, Kang said.

Small folding screens will likely come before larger ones, mainly due to the economics of making such displays, Kang said.

The displays will be based on OLED (organic light-emitting diode), which is considered a successor to current LED technology. OLEDs don't have lighting back-panels, making them thinner and more power efficient.

At CES this year, LG showed a stunningly thin paper-like display that could roll up. The company projects it will deliver foldable OLEDs by next year.

There are advantages to screens that can be folded or rolled up. They could lead to innovative product designs and increase the mobility of devices, Kang said.

For example, it could be easier to fit screens around the contours of a battery and other components. It will also provide a level of flexibility in how a user can change the shape of a device.

But challenges remain in making such screens practical, Kang said.

A display has multiple functional layers such as cover lenses, touch panels and polarizers, all made of different materials. A large number of layers could limit the ability to bend and fold. But removing layers also presents problems. For example, removing the touch panel could make such a screen useless for smartphones and tablets.

The size of batteries and circuits are of lesser concern in designing bendable screens, Kang said. The screens can be folded around components.

Displays that can fold and roll are an extension of flexible displays, which are already in wearables, smartphones and TVs. For example, some TVs have flexible screens that are designed so that they can be slightly curved.

Samsung and LG started using flexible AMOLED displays in smartphones in 2013 and are adapting those screens for wearables. Those companies are also leading the charge to bring displays that can bend and fold to devices.

The sorts of flexible displays that are used in curved products are still in their infancy, but IHS projects such screens to continue siphoning market share from non-flexible displays. In 2022, 433.3 million flexible displays will ship, compared to 3.6 billion units of non-flexible displays.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?