Flexible Computer Screen – Rolltop ComputerFeb 22nd, 2010 | By D. Granoff, Technology Editor | Category: Featured, Technology
We’ve seen the new iPad, and you’ve seen laptops and other alternatives to the traditional desktop computer. Outside of science fiction, you’ve probably never seen a computer that can literally be rolled up and tucked under your arm. Fasten your seat belt and take a ride into the future, with some real-world applications of this technology and, of course, some fun pictures:
What inspired me to write this article was a video of a prototype rolltop computer. The screen is made using OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology, a technology that allows creation of displays that are about as thin as the state of the art allows. There are now real-world OLED screens from Sony that are 3 mm thick, and Sony has a prototype that is 1.4mm thick.
Because OLED displays emit light, there is no need for a backlight, which an LCD screen would require. Contrast is excellent and the response time of the OLED is very fast, allowing the screen to be refreshed and updated very rapidly.
The two big things that need to be improved in OLED screens is making the cost and longevity of these screens competitive with LCD and other competing technologies.
OK, now for the fun pictures:
Here is a prototype of the Rolltop – a computer you can roll up and tuck under your arm, unroll to use as a traditional laptop with a keyboard and screen, stand up like an easel, or flatten out and use it like a tablet (iPad-like) computer that can responds to a stylus.
Other real-life applications of flexible OLED screens include:
Flexible Computer Screens – produced by Hewlett Packard
These screens are printed on durable plastic sheets. This is as close to the science-fiction computer screens you have seen in the movies. While I can picture things like electronic maps and “e-paper” you can roll out and read, I can also see a future for this in creating ultra-thin screens for mobile devices. Here are some pictures of the new screens.
Coming to a TV Near You? Wait for improvements in cost and durability
For those of you who are itching to know the technical details about how OLED technology works and who is working on delivering TV screens to the market (hint: Sony, Samsung, and LG seem to be the front-runners), see this article.
For now, I think that this technology has good near-term applications for thin, low-powered mobile devices that don’t have expectations for a long life span (like cell phones), and specialized applications requiring a lightweight, thin, low-power display or a screen that can be bent into a curve (like a kiosk display).
Update 10/31/2010: I still haven’t seen this concept computer offered to the general public. iPad and other touch screen alternatives have been capturing a lot of attention and are the current “cool technology”. This display technology addresses applications where the more rigid and breakable iPad-type screens aren’t a good fit, and I’m looking forward to seeing creative uses for these displays.