Newly granted Samsung patent hints towards a future of foldable displays
Samsung, being one of the largest manufacturers of screens, is always looking to stay on the bleeding edge of display technology. Screens today are brighter than ever before, and the resolutions are drool worthy, but the underlying principle of slapping some pixels onto a glass substrate hasn’t been changed for decades. Earlier this year Samsung announced “Youm”, their brand for AMOLED panels that use a flexible film substrate instead of glass, but we’ve yet to see it featured in actual retail devices.
Looking even further out, what about screens that fold? It’s one thing to roll an AMOLED into a tube, but it’s another thing completely to have a display that you can fold in half like a piece of paper. Samsung patented the technology back in October 2006, and said patent has only now been approved by the United States Patent Office according to Engadget. Here’s the basic idea: The pixels that are located near the edge of the screen where the fold takes place are smaller than the pixels in the rest of the screen. Why? So the bezel between the two halves of the screen is as tiny as possible. Said smaller pixels are also brighter so they can compensate for their reduced size.
So when is this actually going to turn into a product? That’s the hard question we’d really like to answer, but can’t. The first time we saw a flexible display from Samsung was in January 2011 at the Consumer Electronics Show. That was two years ago. What’s taking Samsung so long? Short answer is that it’s easy to make a prototype, but mass producing a new technology is the challenging part of the equation.