Samsung Shows Off Rollable Screen Prototype at Display Week
During the Display Week expo and conference taking place in San Francisco this week, Samsung demonstrated one of its latest innovations in display technology: a rollable OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen.
Videos of the demonstration show the 5.7-inch screen -- displaying bright and colorful cityscapes and other images -- being automatically rolled and unrolled like a miniature version of an old-fashion window shade. With a thickness of just 0.3 millimeters, the display can be rolled up into the shape of a tube just 20 millimeters across.
For now, the technology remains a prototype rather than a product that's ready for the consumer market. However, industry analysts see a growing market for flexible displays and other innovative screen technologies.
An Emerging 'New Form Factor'
"This latest demonstration by Samsung shows that the company is preparing a new form factor, something we predicted two years ago," Guillaume Chansin, senior technology analyst with research firm IDTechEx, told us via e-mail.
Chansin, along with fellow analyst Harry Zervos and consulting head Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, have just published a new report detailing their forecasts for the OLED display market between now and 2026. They predict the market for plastic and flexible AMOLED (active-matric OLED) displays will reach $18 billion by 2020.
"Samsung and LG are now the two major manufacturers of flexible displays," Chansin told us, adding the technology is likely to be used first in mobile phones and wearables, followed later by tablets and automotive displays. "I believe that rollable or foldable displays will give people the ability to carry large displays in a small portable device."
Foldable Devices also Coming
Samsung has already applied for several U.S. patents this year related to flexible display technologies. The South Korean company also produces a number of consumer products with curved or other advanced display technologies, including the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with a curved side display, curved computer monitors and curved-screen TVs.
Last week, Samsung announced that its computer screen mirror displays had been installed commercially for the first time in a hair salon in Seoul. The screens allow customers to view digitized images of different hairstyles superimposed on top of their own mirror images.
LG, which is also working on rollable screens, demonstrated an 18-inch flexible OLED display at CES 2016 in Las Vegas in January.
"Compared to conventional glass-based displays, plastic AMOLED panels are much thinner and lighter, enabling either slimmer devices or bigger batteries," Chansin, Ghaffarzadeh and Zervos wrote in their report. "Future flexible displays will also make foldable mobile devices a reality." They added that both Samsung and LG have "recently announced significant investment to expand their production capacity."
Yesterday, Samsung's Sung-Chul Kim gave a keynote presentation at Display Week on "Critical Technical Issues and the Future of Flexible OLED Displays." Kim, who is executive vice president and chief of the Samsung Display Research Center in South Korea, said that his focus was on "the critical technical issues and core technologies for realizing an 'anywhere/anytime display world.'"
Images Credit: OLED screenshots via Samsung/YouTube.