Last year, several videos and images of flexible screens floated around the Internet. The possibilities due to these advancements are many, and LG has already created a curved phone, the G Flex, with such material. However, advancements in the technology may mean that we eventually roll up our TVs like old projection screens.
Currently, flexible screens are made of plastic. This allows them to bend says Jason Hope, but it doesn’t allow them to roll up like a piece of fabric, which is what LG has been working on. The company has shown several prototypes where the screen can be rolled forward or backward and all without breaking the image on the screen. Of course, you probably wouldn’t want to roll a screen while you’re watching it, but you can thanks to technology.
This is made possible by swapping out the flexible-but-fragile plastic with polyimide film. This also enables the screen to be transparent, so you can watch what’s on TV or your computer and see the world going on behind it.
But while this technology may pave the way for ultra-thin phones and TVs, it’s not without its drawbacks. Right now, flexible screens like those that LG are working on don’t come anywhere close to the resolutions of 4K displays. LG’s prototypes have a resolution of 1280-by-810 pixels. Sure, you can watch TV in 720P, but is it worth downgrading just so you can say you have a screen that rolls up?
And how does flexibility deal with dead pixels? If the technology isn’t hardy enough, we can simply imagine the barrage of consumer complaints that will happen once devices with flexible screens hit the shelves. LG has plans for a 60-inch set to be available in 2017, so we’re willing to bet they’re already working on these issues, however.
LG isn’t the only company that’s working with flexible screens, either. Last summer, Samsung debuted the prototype of a flexible phone. The prototype was shown off during a convention, and Samsung staff talked about Windows Phone software on a flexible phone that was just a few millimeters thick. Samsung also uses polyamide film to create flexible screens that are virtually unbreakable, which is one benefit from the current glass-screened devices available on the market.
Yet, flexible displays haven’t taken off like we were promised they would just two years ago. According to one press release by Samsung, Apple was interested in the company’s flexible OLEDs in 2012, and stores were planned to be full of the devices by the end of the year. But this hasn’t yet happened. Why could that be?
According to, what’s holding back flexible display technology might be the very same reason people are excited about it. “Yes, a flexible screen is cool, but is it any more than that? Once you add processors, cameras and other hardware to a phone, you can’t really make use of flexibility. Perhaps with TVs, this technology can really take off. I’d certainly love to see it become available to consumers.”