LG Debuts a Flexible OLED Screen At CES 2016, But I Wouldn’t Expect it to Show Up in a Flexible eReader Any Time Soon

LG is in Las Vegas this week for CES 2016 to show off new gadgets both large and small, and somewhere in their cavernous booth you will find a new flexible OLED screen.

TheVerge and Teleread report that LG is demoing an 18" flexible OLED screen this week. LG reportedly showed off an earlier prototype at last year's CES, but only behind closed doors. And here's what the new one looked like:

LG Debuts a Flexible OLED Screen At CES 2016, But I Wouldn't Expect it to Show Up in a Flexible eReader Any Time Soon Conferences & Trade shows e-Reading Hardware

There's no info in the press release on when the tech will move from prototype to mass-production, or when we might see it on a device, but I would not expect to see it on the market in the near future. I also don't expect to see it on any rollable devices.

The usual rule of thumb for screen tech is that it will take three to five years after the first prototype before we see the first production models. Sony, for example, was showing off a flexible E-ink screen in 2008 and 2010 but did not ship the Digital Paper DPT-S1 until 2013. Similarly, Plastic Logic first showed off its flexible screens in 2004, and announced its first product at CES in 2010.

So don't count on seeing this soon.

And while you're at it, you shouldn't count on this screen being used in a rollable product. Yes, I know that several sites are optimistically saying that this type of product is coming soon, but one point they overlooked is that there's a huge difference engineering-wise between a screen which is flexible and one which is rugged enough to withstand multiple flexings.

There's a reason why we now have several smartphones with curved screens on the market, including models from Samsung (Galaxy Round, S6 Edge) and Blackberry (the Shiv), and yet we don't have any with flexible screens.

It's because the tech has advanced to the point that a flexible screen can be mounted on a curved backing where it is protected from torsional stress and wear and tear.

But a flexible screen that can be rolled up repeatedly? That is still science fiction, unfortunately.

Update: And now we know that LG's new screen is not up for the job. BBC posted a video which showed that it's easy to break the screen by rolling it too much.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

4 Comments

  1. puzzled5 January, 2016

    Just as a counterpoint, it’s possible to ‘break’ a sheet of paper by bending or rolling it too much.

    Reply
  2. Hrafn5 January, 2016

    Whilst I agree that a ‘roll-up’ screen isn’t coming anytime soon, I would not be surprised if this led to a lightweight, rugged and (slightly) flexible tablet along the lines of the Wexler FLEX One. Inflexible screens require heavier chassis to keep them rigid and protect them, doing away with them opens any number of design options.

    Reply
  3. […] Bendable and rollable screens promise the ultimate compromise between screen size and pocketability, but so far they have shared the same problem: flex them more than a dozen times and they break. […]

    Reply
  4. […] interesting videos in this are coming out of PhD-oriented research labs or show off screens which clearly aren't ready for  prime […]

    Reply

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