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LG starts producing flexible, curvy displays you can STROKE
Need to get 'em on handset before Samsu.. Do people even WANT curvy smartphones?
LG's display unit has confirmed it is beginning mass-production of a flexible, "unbreakable" screen for its new smartphones. The screen is capable of curving rather more than one might want on a handset but, more importantly, it's made of plastic.
LG describes the new screens as "bendable and unbreakable", which is a little hyperbolic but based on the idea that while glass shatters under pressure, plastic bends like a willow branch.
Meanwhile, rival Samsung has already said it would introduce a curved display smartphone in October, so LG is doubtless in a rush to release its own model ahead of time. Originally, the LG's curved smartphone was due in 2014, but sources told Reuters that it would attach the displays on the phones by November in order to fight off its largest South Korean rival.
While LG Display's screens will be fixed to curved surfaces – they'll be permanently bent into a curved phone rather than being freely bendable – when someone sits on them or squeezes them, they'll flex rather than snap.
While reports have been focused on the idea of a curved phone, the technology which LG has now put into production can curve unto a circle of 140cm diameter – capable of putting a camber onto a phone but also well suited to a car's dashboard.
Being plastic, it's incredibly light and less than half a millimetre thick, so could be mounted in much more interesting places than, say, the front of a fondleslab.
It's an idea pursued by various companies over the years, with limited success. Cambridge-based Plastic Logic pioneered the idea with its (unsuccessful) Que Reader. The company still owns patents for technology used to lay down transistors into plastic surfaces and has been building display panels based on a jigsaw of bezel-less screens.
While traditional glass screen technology has got harder, and stronger, it remains brittle and heavy. Plastic might be prone to scratching, but LG's new screen is .44mm thick and a six-inch version should weigh only 7.2g, offering a much lighter alternative if the screens can be mass-produced in sufficient quantity.
Making the screens is simple enough, but a proportion of them will be faulty and getting the yield rate viable may still cripple the idea. Qualcomm started mass production of its breathtaking Mirasol screens before discovering the yield rate couldn't be made high enough for true mass production. Mirasol popped up again on the Toq watch (smaller screen = higher yield rate) and hopefully will emerge again, once manufacturing techniques have improved.
LG's announcement is not a new phone with a bendy screen, but mass production of a new technology which promises thinner, lighter and better screens which can adorn all sorts of devices. Perhaps we'll begin seeing phones with bent fronts, should anyone decide they want such a thing? ®