Home Entertainment


From the “Soon To Be Related to Home Entertainment” Department

February 24, 2011 By Mark Elson - Senior Editor

Later this year, Hewlett-Packard researchers say, they expect to deliver to the U.S. Army a working prototype of what they're calling a "Dick Tracy wristwatch" - a lightweight, wearable device that soldiers in the field can use to view digital maps and other data on a flexible plastic screen that won't shatter or crack like glass. The device will be able to run on the power from a small, flexible solar panel that can be part of the wristband. Researchers say HP's prototype could be one of the first in a new wave of products incorporating flexible electronic displays that can roll up like a newspaper. Can you say "magic disappearing home theater screen"?

"You can start thinking about putting electronic displays on things where you wouldn't ordinarily think of having them," said Nick Colaneri, a scientist and director of the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University. Flexible plastic displays may be developed to provide tablets, smartphones and other portable computers with big screens that weigh less and are far more durable than today's models, said Carl Taussig, director of advanced display research at HP Labs in Palo Alto. Taussig's team is working with plastic film that is both lighter and thinner than glass, and which can be stored in rolls. Their method resembles the way newspapers are printed from giant spools of paper. The display requires little power because it has no backlighting and uses electricity only to create a new page.

The process starts with rolls of plastic that has been treated with thin layers of metal and other material. The plastic is run through a press that imprints a microscopic, three-dimensional pattern, which can then be etched to create transistors on the film. These, in turn, can transmit instructions to electrically charged particles or diodes, which then displays text or images. Taussig said his team is also working with organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs, to build flexible displays capable of showing color and video.

Other companies are working on the same goal. Samsung touted a 4.5-inch flexible prototype using OLED technology at last month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Sony and LG have also shown off flexible display prototypes in recent months. Next will come products with screens that are curved or molded permanently into innovative shapes, although a screen you can roll up and stuff in your pocket may be several years away, Taussig added.

 Hewlett-Packard Flexible Display Material


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