Published On: Thu, Jun 23rd, 2011

At Hewlett-Packard, Flexible Displays From the Future

 bits-hpflex-custom0 Hewlett-Packard researchers are hard at work on a fully flexible display screen that they

say can have all sorts of consumer and retail uses. Imagine candy bar wrappers, or screens as wallpaper, all made out of a flexible material that can change images in an instant.


Rolls of flexible displays are etched with electronic components that are fully bendable.

Compared with today’s screens, which are made with glass and can easily break, these new displays could bring down the cost of consumer electronics and make gadgets more robust and bendable. The displays could also end up replacing hundreds of products that are currently made with paper and plastics.

“The Army has been asking for flexible displays so soldiers can wear screens that wrap around their wrist and can transmit information about an enemy in real-time,” explained Carl Taussig, the head of H.P.’s Information Surfaces Lab, the group responsible for developing the company’s flexible displays. “You can also see a number of retail applications with these displays where stores can show prices or discounts on products that change in real-time, rather than employees having to change paper price tags.”

The lab’s researchers want to make the screens easily visible in a low-light situation and outside in the bright sun. “We want to mix screens to be somewhere between a reflective surface, which is like a piece of paper, and for it to be transmissive, much like the screen on an iPhone,” Mr. Taussig said.

Mr. Taussig predicted that consumers would start to see  this technology over the next two years.

The displays are created using a process similar to a printing press used to print on paper. Instead of using ink in this process, the machines are etching millions of tiny transistors.


The flexible displays could also be powered by solar energy using the solar panels above.


A small character dances on a color e-Ink screen. H.P. researchers are trying to make flexible displays that are visible in the sun and in low light.


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