LG has closed its mobile division (for throw yourself on the automotive) before they could make a foldable smartphone, but the guys in the company's display area continue to develop technologies that could make future mobile devices more flexible. LG Display just revealed a stretchy display that can expand from 12 to 14 inches.
It's not quite ready to integrate into your next gadget, but it's a definite breakthrough in display technologies.
Elastic and (almost) ready
LG states that the new elastic display exceeds several important thresholds for feasibility. It is not monochrome: it has full RGB colors and a resolution that reaches around 100 pixels per inch. Still a little bit for a smartphone, but (for example) not for most computer monitors. And then the extensibility: in particular, the display can "stretch" by 20%, rapidly expanding the display surface.
Yes, but when will it be ready?
Hold on for a second - we've seen demos of foldable OLEDs for years, but you know how long it took before the technology became mature enough for mass-produced products. The LG elastic display is not a demo. It is well beyond its first stage of development. Once the games are over, however, the company could develop it longer to allow it even more extensibility, or form factors that are unthinkable today.
By the way, there are some small points for now: the display contains a film-like substrate made from the same silicone found in contact lenses. Show images using a micro-LED array with a distance between the centers of adjacent pixels (the so-called pixel pitch) of less than 40μm.
A decisive leap forward
Current foldable smartphones can expand beyond pocket size with their flexible OLEDs, but they only fold one way. On balance, there is a "hinge", always the same, which is solicited thousands and thousands of times and in the end it could fail. This new elastic screen from LG can stretch, roll and bend in any direction. Its flexible structure can withstand repeated conformation changes without damage.
I foresee a future where this technology will be integrated into more than just computers. We'll see screens built into clothing, or skin-tight accessories (a bit like tennis players' old sweatbands, but with a display). And in Korea they are betting heavily on these developments, as this display project is funded directly by the South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).
This is probably the next evolution of screens.