March 31, 2015

The Future of Curved Displays is Here, And It’s Flexible

Eric Griffin

Throughout history, materials have had a huge impact on society and culture helping to advance human civilization. Where would we be without iron, wood, paper, or glass? According to Corning, the maker of famed Gorilla Glass, we now live in the Glass Age. Glass is the backbone of the Information Age, from the way the information flows through glass fiber cables to the way we interact with technology through glass enabled interfaces. But the future is already here, and it looks bendable and rollable, and more than anything, it looks plastic.

Flexible displays have been discussed for years, but there are still a few limitations that are keeping this technology out of production at the moment. It doesn’t, however, stop the major makers of consumer electronics from pushing the market more and more towards flexible. The iPhone 6 already came out with a slightly curved display edge, and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge packs an even meaner punch in terms of the limits of curved glass with a new 3D Thermoforming technology.

The elaborate curves of glass add to manufacturing costs, however. According to TechNews, a flat Gorilla Glass screen costs $3, and Samsung’s new curved display costs a whopping $25. Shattered and cracked screens are the number one reason for device repair and replacement, and the screen repair industry is booming. Despite all the assurance from manufacturers, it doesn’t help knowing that the cost to replace a new fancy screen will be much higher. Flexible displays offer a greater advantage — they can’t be shattered or cracked like current screens using Gorilla Glass, and are also lightweight.

According to a recent report from IDTechEx, the future for flexible displays looks bright too — the market for plastic and flexible AMOLED displays will rise to $16bn by 2020 and will be accompanied by a shift from glass substrates to plastic substrates such as polyimide.

One major disadvantage of plastic displays is that they can’t substitute the stiffness and rigidity of glass for hand-held devices that require significant touch interaction. They are also inherently flimsy and require additional supportive components, which glass can eliminate. The display technology for smartphones has also been consistently moving towards harder materials, such as tempered glass and sapphire. With a growing flexibility trend, it will be hard to get the best from both worlds without any sacrifice.

There, however, is an interesting technology that is attempting to address just that. Corning has recently released a new line of glass that is as thin as a sheet of paper and is flexible enough to be wrapped around a structure. This new line is called Willow Glass, and even though we haven’t seen the real world applications yet, it’s clear that it’s way too early to dismiss the innovations that are happening in the glass industry right now.

The advancements in flexible displays and flexible electronics technologies are opening the doors for a variety of exciting new form factors for smartphones and other devices and will forever change the way we interact with technology. The future, indeed looks flexible, but it might not be as plastic as it appears to be.

There are very few screen protector products designed to fit curved glass, though our Clear-Coat Original does just that. It is made from urethane film specifically designed to protect from scratches and everyday use, and it stretches and can fit any curves imaginable.

You can stay ahead of the game in protecting your curved screen against damage and simply enjoying everything your new Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge has to offer in the best way possible, by pre-ordering it online.

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