It seems that the winds of tech are blowing in a definite direction, and that direction is a ‘flexible’ one. Flexible display technology has been advancing at an incredible rate over the past few years and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down. As we are coming closer than ever before to having fully flexible displays like a piece of consumer tech, we take a quick look at industry trends: how we got here, what’s happening now and where are we heading.
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Looking back: a few busy years
Although the first example of a flexible display was the e-paper (developed in 1974 by Xerox Palo Alto Research Center), things haven’t really taken off until recently when mass production of organic thin-film transistors (OTFT) in the early 2000s made flexible tech a more tangible consumer good. Last year we saw Samsung trot out the Galaxy Note Edge with a curved edge capable of showing notifications and text, as well as Japanese firm Semiconductor Energy Laboratory debut a 5.9-inch display capable of being folded over 100,000 times without damage.
What’s happening now
Recently, a partnership was announced between FlexEnable, developer of flexible displays and sensors based in Cambridge, and Chunghwa Picture Tube (CPT), a Taiwanese display company. FlexEnable’s flexible displays provided a base for these two technology giants to manufacture a completely flexible, glass-free, colorful AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display – a giant step towards flexible goods for the average consumer.