Next-generation screen technology - Top Wireless Technologies in 2013


What is it?
Mobile device screens, especially for smartphones, have gotten larger, brighter, sharper, more scratch-resistant and more pixel-rich over the years. Screens have advanced from LCD to Super LCD and from AMOLED to Super AMOLED. But the essential nature of a mobile device screen has remained more or less the same: it's a flat piece of glass.

That may change this year. Samsung Electronics showed off a prototype smartphone with a flexible display at the Consumer Electronics Show. As part of the demonstration, Samsung said it would sell flexible OLED displays under the Youm brand. Separately, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility division is reportedly working on a smartphone dubbed the "X-Phone" that will have a bendable screen. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Motorola "ran into difficulties when it looked into using a bendable screen and materials such as ceramics" that would allow the phone to be more stress resistant. Google CEO Larry Page alluded to this in January, noting "When you drop your phone, it shouldn't go splat." Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is also rumored to be looking into next-generation screen technology from Sharp that is thinner and more efficient, though not bendable. And Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Eric Rudder, the company's chief technical strategy officer, said that Microsoft is testing Samsung's flexible display technology with its Windows Phone smartphone software.

Why is it important?
In addition to making mobile devices more durable and less prone to shattering when they are dropped, new screen technologies, especially flexible displays, could change the ways applications and services function. The new screens could also change the way people interact with their mobile devices.

During Samsung's CES keynote demonstration, the company showed off what appeared to be a paper-thin display that could be rolled up into a complete circle. Even while being handled, the display continued to present changing images and text. Samsung also exhibited a demo phone with a flexible display. The display curved around the edges of the device, allowing messages and other information to scroll across the outermost edges of the phone. Such technology could allow users to read messages without removing a phone from a pocket, for example.