In the near future, mobile users who will want to access and interact with information, news and entertainment, will have access to all kinds of mobile, portable devices. But looking at information, charts, news feeds on those tiny displays is often a challenge not everyone of us enjoys. The issue of how to balance out the need for a "bigger view" with a smaller footprint, is a tough one to overcome.
Some are considering to goggle up themselves into something like this, while others are still pondering the options offered by portable PDAs, ultra-light notepads and smartphones. What about portable ultra-thin rollable displays?
While Gizmodo recently referred to this technology as a "we're not dead yet", one likely other alternative to traditional LCD displays is indeed the arrival of flexible, rollable screens which have been showcased and promoted in magazines, news stories and at fairs for a few years now.
Well, some of cooler and interesting prototype sketches of what these ultra thin screens may look like have started to appear online and here's what they promise to offer.
The specs: typically such screens are ultra-thin (100¬Ķm) featherweight QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) active-matrix display with a diagonal of 5 inches.
When not actively used, the display can be rolled up into a small housing with a radius of curvature of less than 7.5 mm.
With four gray levels, the monochrome display provides paper like viewing comfort with a high (10:1) contrast ratio for reading-intensive applications. Even in bright daylight, the display is easy to read.
Using a bi-stable electrophoretic display effect from E Ink Corp., the display consumes an exceptionally low amount of power. It is thus ideally suited for mobile applications.
Rollable displays are projected to be the primary solution to the consequent demand for larger displays in mobile devices -- without increasing device size, weight, or power consumption.
The first likely entry in this arena is indeed a rollable black and white screen type which could be made be part of an existing cellphone, of a PDA/smartphone or could be used as an independent unit device.
Typical uses might likely be email reading, RSS feed browsing, and other text based applications which would not be handicapped by the lack of a color display.
Alternatively the rollable b/w display could provide a useful additional option to those needing to type and edit on the move, while traveling on airplanes, trains, buses, cars or ships. You have probably seen those foldable ultra-light keyboards that are used by professionals who use a PDA. Those foldable and highly portable keyboards could well carry within themselves also an rolled up b/w display that would give much relief to the strain placed on looking at those tiny and low resolution PDA screens.
To see rollable color displays hit the market you may have to wait until late 2007 or 2008, as technologies need to be further refined, tested and improved.
These will likely be integrated inside advanced mobile phones providing full ability to access the Web, to watch video clips and even live TV programming.
The images of the prototypes I have used here have been created at Polymer Vision, a line of business of Philips Electronics, one of the world's biggest electronics companies and Europe's largest, in the Netherlands.
According to Philips latest news current process and yield improvements will enable production of the first commercial products based on this technology within two years.
Here you can see a video demonstrating the flexibility, size and thickness of the prototypes created so far. (Windows Media format)
My questions to you are:
What do you think this portable ultra-thin rollable displays could be most useful for?
How would you see them used?
Do you see a market for black and white ones?
At what price would you buy one given the load of gadgets you are already loading yourself with?