TECHNOLOGY: Samsung bets big on flexible displays

Flexible_smarphone__www.geekIt might not be that much longer before you are able to go to the store and buy a smartphone with a flexible, bendable, practically unbreakable display. Samsung is increasing its efforts in the research and development of this emerging technology as competition makes it more difficult to be unique in the current market.

The technology incorporates the use of plastic in the production of an electronic display, rather than glass. This means that if you drop it on the ground, it won’t crack. It also means the display has the ability to be bent and twisted without compromising. The focus right now is assumed to be for smartphones and tablets, but eventually it could be used for all sorts of products.

If you think you’ve heard of this technology before, you’re probably right. Flexible display concepts have been around for years. There have been working prototypes from other companies, not just Samsung. Apple also seems to be working on its own version of the technology.

So, proof-of-concept isn’t the issue. The problem is that it is incredibly difficult to mass produce for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it uses organic LED (OLED), which is still fairly cost-prohibitive. If any company has the infrastructure and expertise to solve that problem, though, it isSamsung. The company did not provide specific details about how much money it is pouring into this project, but its increased focus could mean that it will become ready for scalable manufacturing in the first half of 2013.

The company’s aggressive push to be the first to market is an indication of how competitive the market for mobile technology has become. It is becoming increasingly difficult to offer a product that has a truly distinguishing feature. It’s almost impossible to think of something that could revolutionize the industry at this point, but flexible displays certainly would. There is no timetable yet on when you might be able to go into a store and buy smartphones with unbreakable displays, but they are coming.

 

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