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OPLIN 4cast #350: Flexible OLEDs

Posted in 4cast

Samsung OLEDLibrarians seem to love acronyms – at least we seem to use a lot of them – so here’s one to watch in the near future: OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode. Without getting too technical, OLEDs can be used to make display screens out of a thin layer of organic compound which emits light when subjected to an electric current between two electrodes. Actually, OLEDs have been around for a while and are already being used in a few television screens, computer monitors, and mobile phones, but now this technology is about to be used to produce flexible displays, and this is where things get interesting. Current speculation is that Samsung and LG will begin mass production of flexible OLEDs in Korea this November. (Previous speculation that the smartwatch Samsung is launching today would have a flexible OLED display turned out to be incorrect.)

  • In-depth analysis for technical trends of flexible OLED (iSuppli/Jerry Kang) “Flexible OLED technology is expected to bring about an unprecedented change in flat displays which have ruled the display market for the last 20 years since the emergence of a liquid crystal display. Flexible OLED technology has already been introduced in a series of exhibitions and conferences for the last few years, and it is expected to make an innovative change in the conventional display industry structure once commercialized.”
  • iSuppli sees the flexible OLED market growing from $21 million in 2013 to almost $12 billion by 2020 (OLED-Info) “The first products will be plastic-based OLEDs which are thin and durable. Rollable and foldable OLEDs are forecasted to be introduced after 2016. There are still technological hurdles to be overcome though, before flexible OLEDs will fully replace rigid OLEDs – better plastic substrates, thin-film encapsulation and better manufacturing processes.”
  • Flexible OLED market set to rise to nearly $95 million in 2014 (CNET/Don Reisinger) “Actually producing the displays has proven somewhat difficult and companies like Samsung are still trying to determine the best way to manufacture them. That process could eventually determine flexible OLED’s long-term fate…”
  • Is the Samsung KN55S9C, a 55-inch curved OLED TV, the best HDTV ever? ( “While it’s likely that the curved screen—a design characteristic also shared by LG’s OLED set—is primarily an aesthetic touch to differentiate the TV, Samsung claims the curve helps create a more immersive viewing experience, giving viewers a sense that the TV is actually larger than its actual screen dimensions. From the viewer’s seating position, you can sense the curve from the outer profile of the frame, which has a bowed contour at the top and bottom of the screen, much like a Cinerama projection screen in a movie theater.”

Cost fact:
The Samsung TV mentioned above (which technically is not flexible, just curved) currently costs about $9,000, though that price is already about a third less than the price when it was first introduced in Korea. Expect the first truly flexible OLED displays to be expensive.