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Cellphones Displays Technology

LG Announces Mass Production of Flexible OLED Phone Displays 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-and-break-it dept.
Zothecula writes "LG today announced that it is to start mass producing flexible OLED display panels for smartphones. The company says that its technology uses plastic substrates rather than glass, and claims that a protective film on the back of the display makes it 'unbreakable' as well as bendable."
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LG Announces Mass Production of Flexible OLED Phone Displays

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  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:41PM (#45060317)

    So what is the use case if we still have a glass plate in front of the display?

    If no glass plate this thing would be scratched to hell and back in a couple minutes.

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      Perhaps they'll be smart enough to coat the front in some flexible way. ...or it's Ghost Armor on everything.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Name one flexible material that is transparent and as hard as glass?

        Ghost Armor like all other protective covers just dim the display and obscure the clarity. On top of that they have to be replaced periodically or you may as well just have a scratched up device.

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          True.

          It's a trade off.

          Right now, if you want flexible, you're likely going to have to deal with less clear screen than glass.
          If you want to protect that flexible screen, you're likely going to have to deal with some sort of rubberized coating as well. ...but your objection to Ghost Armor (and other similar products) is purely opinion. My HTC One is sufficiently pretty behind a matte front. I'm not doing graphics illustration or crime scene forensics on my display, so the minimally-diminished display doesn

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Then why not just get a cheaper device with a cheaper display?

            If I bought an HTC one it would go naked like every smartphone I have ever had. The glass on them is so hard only sand or diamonds will scratch them.

            • by mythosaz (572040) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:10PM (#45060727)

              It's about choice.

              Sure. Just give me a phone with the same processing power, the ability to take a call in speakerphone mode in a loud car, a screen large enough for my should-wear-bifocals eyes, and a non-carrier-based, unlocked-out-of-the-box stock from-Google ROM. It's a short list, and I picked the HTC.

              I prefer being able to keep my phone in a pocket with my keys and not worry about scratching the screen. You seem to be having a different experience, but I'm willing to sacrifice a TINY bit of screen clarity for a good deal of protection for my phone.

              People who want a flexible screen will enjoy not having a phone that shatters as often when dropped and will be willing to sacrifice some clarity over hard-glass screens for it.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                What are your keys made of? Diamond?

                • by mythosaz (572040)

                  What are your phones made of, unobtanium?

                  It takes a lot less than diamonds to scratch Gorilla Glass.
                  My phone isn't made entirely of Gorilla Glass.

                  I dislike bulky cases, but like to protect my phone, so I make a small compromise in a wrap.

                  • by h4rr4r (612664)

                    Aluminosilicate glass. Try scratching a modern smartphone display, keys are not going to do it.

                    • by CCarrot (1562079)

                      Aluminosilicate glass. Try scratching a modern smartphone display, keys are not going to do it.

                      Sure! Hey, can I borrow your phone for a sec? :)

                    • Aluminosilicate glass. Try scratching a modern smartphone display, keys are not going to do it.

                      Sure! Hey, can I borrow your phone for a sec? :)

                      Dunno about keys, they are in my other pocket. However, my dog has been quite busy trying to demolish my phone. The screen was not protected by a silicone/polyurethane case as the rest was. It didn't have a scratch. The case was damaged fiercely but that was only E9.

                • by Sarten-X (1102295)

                  Mine are steel with a light coating of silica sand, because I carry them in my pocket, which always seems to have a bit of sand in it, ready to scratch the softer steel and get caught in the impression.

            • by lgw (121541)

              The glass on them is so hard only sand or diamonds will scratch them.

              A friend of mine had a cat that would scratch a sliding glass door to signal it wanted in or out. The glass was pretty thoroughly scratched. Were the cat's claws made of diamond? No, just a bit just sand on its paws. Abrasives that can scratch hard glass are common, and in arid environments are everywhere.

              I don't worry about scratching - my glass phone broke the first time I dropped it. The screen protection film has kept it usable - cracks and all - for years since. But then, I don't really use it as

              • Window glass and gorilla glass are quite different beasts. Window glass scratches far more easily and breaks less easily. You can scratch a window with a key easily. You can't scratch gorilla glass that easily.
                That is because gorilla glass is harder. Like the difference between plastic and cast iron. Plastic is easily scratched. Cast iron isn't. But, as you probably know, the results of dropping a cast iron object and a plastic object can be quite different. That's why dropping a phone isn't covered in th
                • by lgw (121541)

                  Sure, but that cat would still easily scratch Gorilla glass! Gorilla glass has a Vikers hardness under 750 (Wikipedia says 622 to 701), which is far harder than steel, but sand is 1000. Sand will scratch most anything found in daily life, but sapphire is 2300. Sapphire really is scratch-proof (just keep diamonds away), Gorilla glass is merely key-proof.

        • by RenderSeven (938535) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:05PM (#45060655)

          Name one flexible material that is transparent and as hard as glass?

          Transparent aluminum? Its even possible that I invented it.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Actually that exists. It is normally called sapphire and was going to be used on the ubuntu phone. It is not however flexible.

        • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:23PM (#45060901)

          Name one flexible material that is transparent and as hard as glass?

          Well, glass for one. Seriously, Corning has a flexible glass called Willow Glass, probably because they saw flexible and curved OLED displays coming (it's probably not as hard as Gorilla Glass, but then, what do you expect from flexible glass).

    • by mc6809e (214243)

      So what is the use case if we still have a glass plate in front of the display?

      If no glass plate this thing would be scratched to hell and back in a couple minutes.

      The point is that OLEDs are beautiful. Images are vivid. Black looks black instead of dark gray.

      There's a huge difference between selectively filtering one light source and selectively activating arbitrary light sources.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        AMOLED has been around a long time.
        You are leaving out their issues. Splotchy colors, grey looks terrible, white often has the same issues, black is not the same level across the display.

        Sure, if they fix those problems it would be great, but making it flexible does not do that.

        • So AMOLED is better for porn featuring black actors and worse for porn featuring most other races. It's about time we can choose displays based on sexual preference.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            At the colors humans are the display is fine. No humans are that black or that white. Perhaps if you are interested in Aliens the grey issues could be a problem.

          • So AMOLED is better for porn featuring black actors and worse for porn featuring most other races. It's about time we can choose displays based on sexual preference.

            As a homosexual, I like accurate colour rendering when I look at photos of my rainbow collection.

      • by wjh31 (1372867)
        I think the OP was taking issue with the flexibility, not the OLED. If the screen is to be flexible, this only becomes useful if everything else it's attached to is also flexible, in this case the glass protective screen, but actually also the electronic circuits it is to be attached to. If flexible screens can become mass produced so they are cheap enough to ship to consumers, then we may start to see some of the stuff that has been shown off as concept for years, e.g a fold up (http://static.ibnlive.in.co
        • by narcc (412956)

          I think the OP was taking issue with the flexibility, not the OLED. If the screen is to be flexible, this only becomes useful if everything else it's attached to is also flexible

          The selling point, according to the two-sentence summary, is that making the display flexible makes it "unbreakable". TFA doesn't offer any more detail, but the presumption is that the display won't shatter.

      • by mspohr (589790)

        OLEDs wash out in bright light (like outdoors).
        They also "burn in" images just like old CRTs.

        • by Nadaka (224565)

          Almost everything washes out in bright light.

          • by mspohr (589790)

            The new IPS TFT screens are much better than OLEDs.
            My new phone with IPS is very readable even in direct sunlight whereas my old OLED screen is unreadable in direct sunlight. (Side by side comparison).

    • by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:49PM (#45060427) Homepage

      Maybe the idea is to make fixed but not flat screen.

      Fancy digital watch smartphone hybrid things?

      How long before iBall is what I want to know lol

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "If no glass plate this thing would be scratched to hell and back in a couple minutes."

      It's gorilla plastic.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Foldable tablets. The screens fold together, protecting each other from scratches, and it will fit in your pocket.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        It will also have a nice distracting seam in the middle. Besides you can bend this not fold it.

        Simply touching and using a plastic display like that will scratch the hell out of it.

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          Unless you touch it with your nails (and I don't see why would you do that with a capacitive screen), a plastic screen can withstand everyday use. There were phones before the iphone, you know.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Your fingers are not as clean as you think. I had phones before the current glass screen craze and they all scratched. You can get cheap android phones with plastic displays, they get scratched quite quickly.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Use your imagination - I don't know what the minimum radius is, but if they leave room in the hinge then the screen could retract away from the edges of the frame such that it forms a radius in the hinge. Such a mechanism need not be complicated - simply attach the screen at the back of the hinge. It is a trivial design challenge, at least in principle. Let this message serve as "prior art" if some knucklehead tries to patent it :)

          • Sort of like a smoothed out keyhole shape, or those loops you sometimes see for trains/trams to turn round?

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Yeah, exactly - that might work if the radius isn't too sharp, right? Depends if this stuff is like a sheet of projector transparency or more like a piece of thin plexiglass.

              • From TFA:

                radius of 700mm

                so a bigger radius than thin plexiglass. 1mm acrylic sheets have a bend radius of 200 mm. It will probably need a backing to prevent bending it too tightly.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's for making iWatches. Not some huge mystery there. You thought the idea was that the display would be END USER flexible?! No, it's flexible as pertains to production. With a flat display you can only make a watch "that" big, you need something that curves naturally around your wrist.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      If no glass plate this thing would be scratched to hell and back in a couple minutes.

      Flexible materials in general tend to not scratch easily; what would scratch a harder material just pushes it out of the way.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      I don't think initial applications will involve actually flexible displays, but it could easily be used to make curved TVs, phone screens or watch displays. The latter would be especially interesting as it'd allow the watch's screen to be much larger without becoming inconvenient, all while leveraging OLED's low power characteristics when few pixels are lit up.

      The next step would then be to develop a flexible surface with a texture similar to glass.
    • by Solandri (704621)
      Well if you're going to require a glass plate in front, then no there's not much value here. Maybe being able to fix a broken display by just replacing the glass cover instead of the entire display.

      But long-term, I think this is the future. No glass, just a plastic display. You can cover it with a cheap screen protector to ward off scratches. When the protector gets too scratched up, just peel it off and put on a new one. If you drop it, it'll flex instead of shatter [youtube.com]. Many laptop screens are plasti
    • by sjames (1099)

      TV/Monitor? Any other non-touchscreen application? Cellphones where replacing the glass doesn't mean replacing the entire display too?

  • TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:44PM (#45060353)

    TFA is so sparse on details that it's painful.

    After rounding, there's roughly zero information about this in the linked "article."

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      After rounding, there's roughly zero information about this in the linked "article."

      Maybe you should apply a different rounding algorithm then?

      • After rounding, there's roughly zero information about this in the linked "article."

        Maybe you should apply a different rounding algorithm then?

        According to my rounding algorithm there is 1 information!

  • Even if you put glass in front of it, this lets manufacturers of devices use the display in varying configurations with more or less curvature without needing a custom display solution. One company might use it flat, another highly curved, and they don't need expensive custom displays.

  • Are you willing to put money on that LG? Every time a manufacturer claims that their screen is "unbreakable", they get embarrassed by the first guy who really puts effort into it.
    • I believe the response you're looking for is "challenge accepted."

    • Of course it's not genuinely unbreakable--everything blends, after all. "Unbreakable" really means "unbreakable in 99% of normal usage scanrios" of similar. It means you can drop it of a table onto a hard floor and the screen won't shatter. It doesn't mean you can chuck it down a cliff and expect it to survive.
      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        Not that I have a ton of experience, but I've never seen a modern smartphone display break just from being dropped. The glass, sure, it'll shatter and spiderweb and be wrecked to hell -- but usually the display underneath is still quite functional.

        • Not that I have a ton of experience, but I've never seen a modern smartphone display break just from being dropped. The glass, sure, it'll shatter and spiderweb and be wrecked to hell -- but usually the display underneath is still quite functional.

          Yeah, I guess that's true in my experience too.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:09PM (#45060715) Homepage Journal

    Then I can change my design to suit me, as often as I like.

  • Steve Jobs thought about using plastic, in fact one of the prototype iPhones had a plastic screen. He rejected it because of the cheap feel of the plastic, and went with the Gorilla Glass that he used in original iPhones. So I guess it's down to, do you want an indestructible phone screen, or do you want one that feels good?

    And, btw, not an Apple fan boy here, I just happened to read Jobs bio by Walter Isaacson, he covered Jobs' choice in fair detail in the book.

    • So I guess it's down to, do you want an indestructible phone screen, or do you want one that feels good?

      And if you're selling the replacement parts, 'breakable' isn't a bad option.

      That aside, there are some 'self-healing' plastic coatings that I'd be interested in seeing on a cell phone. I pretty much don't care how it feels - I just want it to work well and be low-maintenance. Actually I'm pretty sure all my monochrome cell phones had screens with plastic coatings, and I never balked at how cheap they f

      • That aside, there are some 'self-healing' plastic coatings that I'd be interested in seeing on a cell phone. I pretty much don't care how it feels - I just want it to work well and be low-maintenance.

        Nissan makes a self-healing clear coat [nissan-global.com] for their cars, I wonder how difficult it would be to use the substance on a flexible, plastic screen.

        I'd love to see $30 smart phones on the horizon - plastic-sandwiched OLED could help there.

        Eff that, wake me when someone starts marketing these [wikia.com]

    • you realize this is not talking about the screen, but the display UNDER the glass right? while I doubt we'll see flexible devices for a long time, I could see curved displays becoming more and more popular. people talking about curved display iphones and android will finally become feasible, of course the glass on top will still be glass, for the reasons you've suggested. using plastic as the display has it's own issues, but your concern about it having a cheap feel, well that's completely ignorant of th

  • When will someone take this technology and make us a full page (8 1/5 x 11 inch) tablet? This seems like an obvious thing to do with a display tech that is lighter, flexible, and strong. I want something to read pdf files without having to find a magnifying glass.
  • I want to coat my chopsticks in this OLED stuff so I can watch "The Fly" at a sushi joint!
  • Curved or flexible phones will be a fad that ends quickly.

    Consider the uselessness of a touch devices with a concave or floppy limp screen?

    While a curved phone works great for making a call by holding it up to your face, MOST people don't use phones in this way anymore. The smartphone is no longer a "phone" platform, its a computing device with a telephony feature.

    Focusing too much on making the "call" feature of a smartphone, when it already works great anyways with a flat surface, will only make the othe

    • Curved or flexible phones will be a fad that ends quickly.

      Consider the uselessness of a touch devices with a concave or floppy limp screen?

      Agreed - the idea of a phone that's not flat comes off as kind of silly.

      Now, a convex screen that somewhat follows the contour of, say, a forearm? Now that is an idea that might gain some useful traction - a smartwatch that doesn't look like someone glued a wrist strap to a handful of LEGO bricks might just have a market.

    • by cusco (717999)

      To be truthful, I'd be happier if they concentrated on the 'phone' feature, as I find the other 99% of the thing's features mostly annoying. It's a bloody phone, if I wanted to answer email or browse the web I'd user my laptop. I'd like to have my old 'brick' phone with the amazing reception and three day's battery charge back, but my work gives me a smart phone. All the other features do is suck down the battery life and (if I forget to turn them off) spy on my location, as well as opening possible atta

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot.uberm00@net> on Monday October 07, 2013 @02:42PM (#45061911) Homepage Journal

    Challenge accepted.

The first version always gets thrown away.

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