Dec 21, 2016: With the speedy advancements in OLED technology, it is believed that 2017 will see many more technical innovations, given its high contrast ratios, super-thin screens, bendable property, and much more. As a result, many companies are adopting the technology in different ways. So, in 2017, do we see OLED technology in new ways—other than smartphones displays and TV screens?
As innovators continuously make advancements in OLED technology, consumers are waiting patiently for Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017, to see this technology going beyond TV screens and smartphone displays.
The deal that made the technology popular
OLED technology gained its popularity from a Eastman Kodak deal in the 1980s. Kodak hit upon a surprising lead on a display technology, but Kodak’s work on OLED technology did not manifest into many consumer products. Hence, many do not remember about this development.
In 2009, Kodak sold its WOLED R&D portfolio to LG at $100 million, and it was an uncontested deal, as LG’s rivals did not see return on the investment. Consequently, LG became the the major player in OLED TV screens.
Although it seems that LG’s ownership on the WOLED standard will remain unchallenged in the near future, its rivals like Samsung, for example, has its own OLED products, and is also contributing to the innovations.
What the coming year will bring with it
As innovators continuously make advancements in OLED technology, consumers are waiting to see this technology doing crazy things.
Take the case of OLED’s crazy property demonstrated at CES 2016. LG displayed a shiny piece of OLED “paper,” which was bendable. This paper thin screen was 0.18 mm in depth—thin enough to roll into a tube without disrupting the images that continued to play on the screen. However, to use this screen, the user may need to connect it with cables like HDMI or USB would be required to attach a device to the thin screen, and a battery would also be required. So consumers may have to wait till a little more research is done to get rid of these obstacles.
But such a screen can be used on a smartphone or a tablet display that could be rolled up and carried in the pocket. This can be possible because of the flexible capacitive touch panels that already exist.
OLED panels may come to a playstation, which needs deeper blacks and smoother motion, and OLED is capable of doing both.
Innovative OLED screens can become OLED wearables or some flexible panels forming shirts and pants—does it hear too crazy? But research into active camouflage systems has already started—body cameras will be able to capture data used to display visual information on the opposite side of an object to make it look transparent. OLED panels can be used here as it can bend and has de-blur potential as well. If this do not go well with the users, then its smaller versions like robots and drones can obviously work well.
A smart watch can also be possible with OLED’s bendable properties. Maybe the wrist-wrapping watch may display lighted up numbers and text. According to experts, if the smart watch takes advantage of OLED’s pure-black capabilities, it will save power from the unlit pixels, and improve the battery life.
OLED can light up within mirrors or insert images and text into transparent panels, which can be used on the glass panes in storefronts and museum displays.
One crazy OLED example can be seen presently at the tunnels and walls at N Seoul Tower. LG has covered them in tons of OLED screens connected with each other. Each individual screen can bend and turn at different angles and curves.
But this South Korean installation is indoors because currently, the maximum brightness on OLED screens is about 800 nits in a single panel. OLEDs cannot scale up in terms of super-bright options. So we cannot expect such innovative screens outdoors as billboards or signages.
So wait a little more for CES 2017—you may be surprised with a number of such innovative products, or get disappointed. Fingers crossed!