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The Shape of Displays to Come

Photonics Spectra
Oct 2008
Nancy D. Lamontagne, Managing Editor

When you think of displays, you likely think of something flat – flat-screen television, mobile phone screen – but researchers today are developing displays in almost any shape imaginable. The perception that displays are only flat might change in the near future.

Olympics_AP080808014890.jpg

A 147 × 22-m LED screen wowed the audience during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. It had approximately 44,000 embedded LED beads, each 600 mm apart. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson).


And as flexible display technology matures, expect it to show up in unexpected places. For example, Esquire magazine is featuring an electronic paper as its October cover. The mass-produced digital paper uses E Ink Corp. technology, which is based on ink that carries a charge enabling it to be electronically updated. The cover will celebrate the magazine’s 75th year with scrolling words and images, and the inside cover will use the same technology to show an ad from Ford Motor Co. With technology advances, we might one day carry a foldable paper-thin display that can operate as a phone, computer, e-reader and television. Or perhaps we will use everyday objects to display the information we need.

Such a paradigm shift in displays brings exciting possibilities and a few concerns. If displays start showing up on everyday objects, will this lead to information overload? And will users’ interactions with displays be tracked for marketing information? With much of the technology close or even already here, society must get ready for the new possibilities.


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