A large screen gadget which can be folded up and stuck in a pocket is one of the holy grails of mobile gadgetry, and in the past few days a couple news stories came across my desk which reminded me that it’s not as far out of reach as I had thought.
Yesterday LG Display showed off a new flexible OLED screen which measures 18″ diagonally and can be rolled up into a tube just 3cm in diameter. They’ve been showing it off since last week but only posted a video showing the latest prototype yesterday.
As you can see in the video below, it is flexible. Whether that flexibility can be translated into a consumer product is another matter.
LG Display is not the first to develop flexible screen tech; Samsung launched a very similar tech at CES last year. But LG Display offers a tech that’s both more flexible and is translucent, thus opening up possibilities for see-through screens. (It’s also huge, as you may have noticed.)
Alas, that translucent quality won’t do you much good if you pair it with flexible battery tech like what Imprint Energy is working on. This Calif.-based startup is one of many companies either developing or selling a flexible battery tech, and it hopes to adapt the tech so it can be used in smartwatches, smart labels, wearable electronics, and medical devices.
Imprint Energy recently raised $6 million to develop their zinc-polymer batteries which they see as combining the best parts of existing flexible Lithium batteries with safer and more stable zinc batteries.
So when can we see this marvel of a pocketable tablet? Probably not any time soon. Thin-film batteries are readily available, but they are expensive to manufacture. And while there are at least a half dozen companies with a flexible screen in production, no one has quite managed to develop one which is still flexible after it’s been folded and unfolded a thousand times.
In short, this is still the realm of SF, and not engineering. Alas.