01 July 2013
In the future, the mobile phone will be our flexible friend, capable of rolling up or curling at the edges to alert us to a message. This future-gazing prototype called MorePhone, is from the researchers at the Canadian-based Human Media Lab. It’s based on flexible plastic display technology developed in the UK at the Cambridge R&D wing of Plastic Logic.
Rachel Lichten at Plastic Logic’s HQ, describes how the R&D team at Plastic Logic has developed a process for manufacturing paper-thin flexible electrophoretic plastic displays which mimic the appearance of conventional ink on paper. They use polymers (also called plastics) to create layers of electronic transistors and the benefit of polymers is that they can be processed.
Screens you can stomp on
The flexible screens can be scaled to any size, and don’t need backlighting to be clearly legible in direct sunlight. They can be black and white or colour and are very thin and lightweight – Lichten says you can even stomp on them. Their power consumption is very low, so no need for large cumbersome batteries, making them ideal for wearable applications.
Lichten envisages its beneficial use in applications, such as heart monitoring, smart-watches which can wrap around your wrist, back up screens for mobile phones – because the image can be held, your phone can retain your boarding card details for example when your phone’s battery is dying. Plastic Logic is also working with a Japanese company who make giant electrophoretic signage to develop wraparound display solutions.
Next generation electronic gadgetry
Having spent 13 years developing this new technology for manufacturing, Plastic Logic’s challenge now is to help customers to think of innovative applications. As Lichten says, this is always the way with new technologies, ‘bringing it to market on the one hand is a challenge, especially because it is revolutionary. But also for the next generation of products, you have to know what the next generation of products will be.’ Working with mobile phones or laptops that roll-up, could turn hardware into ‘flexi-ware’.
Learn English Science Actitvities
Why not do a language activity based on this cubed story, Flexible Screen Technology?