TOKYO (AP) – In the race for ever thinner displays for TVs, cell phones and other gadgets, Sony may have developed one to beat them all – a razor-thin display that bends like paper while showing full-color video.
Sony Corp. posted video of the new 2.5 inch display on its Web page Friday. In the video, a hand squeezes the 0.3 millimeter (0.01 inch)-thick display, which shows color video of a bicyclist stuntman, a picturesque lake and other images.
Sony will present the research and video at an academic symposium in Long Beach, California, for the Society for Information Display this week, the Japanese electronics and entertainment company said in a release.
The display combines Sony’s organic thin film transistor, or TFT, technology, which is required to make flexible displays, with another kind of technology called organic electroluminescent display, it said.
The latter technology is not as widespread for gadgets as the two main display technologies now on the market – liquid crystal displays and plasma display panels.
Although flat-panel TVs are getting slimmer, a display that’s so thin it bends in a human hand marks a breakthrough.
Sony said plans for a commercial product using the technology were still undecided.
”In the future, it could get wrapped around a lamppost or a person’s wrist, even worn as clothing,” said Sony spokesman Chisato Kitsukawa. ”Perhaps it can be put up like wallpaper.”
Tatsuo Mori, professor at Nagoya University’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said some hurdles remained, including making the display bigger, ensuring durability and cutting costs.
But the display’s pliancy is extremely difficult to imitate with LCD and plasma screens, he said.
”To come up with a flexible screen at that image quality is groundbreaking,” Mori said in a telephone interview. ”You can drop it, and it won’t break because it’s as thin as paper.”
Other companies, including LG. Philips LCD Co. and Seiko Epson Corp. are also working on a different kind of ”electronic paper” technology, but Sony said its technology using the organic electroluminescent display delivers better color images and is more suited for video.
Sony President Ryoji Chubachi has said a film-like display is a major technology his company is working on to boost its status as a technological powerhouse.
In a meeting with reporters more than a year ago, he boasted Sony was working on a technology for displays so thin it could be rolled up like paper, and that the world would stand up and take notice.
Some analysts have said Sony, which makes Walkman portable players and PlayStation 3 video game machines, had fallen behind rivals in flat-panel technology, including Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea and Sharp Corp. of Japan.
But Sony has been marking a turnaround under Chubachi and Chief Executive Howard Stringer, the first foreigner to head Sony, including reducing jobs, shuttering unprofitable businesses and strengthening its flat TV offerings.
On the Net:
Video of Sony’s new display: mms://station.streaming-tv.net/sonypr/OLED070524–750kbps.wmv
Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.Subscribe today