Paper Thin Displays Near Their Day

August 18, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley

LG's press-on wallpaper TV caused excitement, but the applications of bendable displays reach much farther than just fancy televisions.

Thin televisions are great, but the possibilities are much greater.

When LG debuted its press-on wallpaper TV in May, it was a foreshadowing of the PTD ("paper thin display") revolution, a market that Research and Markets predicts will be an explosive force in years to come, especially as the IoT becomes fully integrated into homes and businesses. Smart, paper-thin televisions will be implemented in stores and homes, used everywhere from the sides of buses to the inside of bathroom stalls. They're Ray Bradbury's vision of the future come to life. 

Paper thin displays are exactly that--bendable, incredibly slim OLED displays featuring impressive image and resolution. It will make our mounted televisions look as ridiculous as projection televisions seem now. But LG's display isn't available to buy, and when it is will suffer the same adoption rate as every other piece of tech ever released: the rich and technologically eager will pay exorbitant prices while the rest of the general public has to wait years for a Black Friday sale to render the PTD within reach. And yet, when that moment comes, it could herald a seachange.

There's already been great momentum in bendable embedded technology: once designers make paper thin displays that can not only be rolled, but folded, customers will be less excited about using them as televisions and conversation starters than as using them for personal devices. That means, however, that every component of the device would have to be completely bendable--from cameras to gyroscopes. And that means rethinking the very roots of hardware. 

That's a long way off, but designers should begin thinking about flexibility now before stagnation takes hold. If bendable displays become the new norm, then personal devices with the same flexibility of cling wrap should be here within the next two decades, and that means silicon may already be obsolete.