Saturday, January 8, 2011

Displays That Bend and Twist

When I am watching CSI, I sometimes get lost in all their technologies. Especially when they are recreating scenarios and use a computer on the desk linked to the triple screens up front and then can "toss" the visuals from one of the screens to another, enlarge them with a touch, and it all looks like it is floating in mid air. I look forward to having that type of technology in everyone's hands. Oh to be able to bend, move, and twist those images.

I was very young when I started working with different technologies that were available. I helped my dad build radios and televisions when I was nine years old. We still used tubes and transistors then with soldering irons for connections. Everything was so big to house all the parts and for heat control. Advancements came quickly; radios and TVs got smaller and much more affordable. I remember as a teenager asking my dad if there would ever be a way we could touch the TV screen to make it change channels instead of one of us girls having to get up, walk across the room, and change the station. His response was, "Soon." Short and to the point.

Look at the way phones have advanced in such a short period of time. We used to have to carry around that big bag to hold the phone and power supply and the cost was unbelievable. Now, I've seen phones the size of a credit card that hold a charge for days at a time, have touch screens or are voice-activated. One computer used to fill an entire room and now it will fit in your hand. Along with the main hardware changes, come advancements for all the accessories - keyboards, monitors/screens, mice . . . If I don't want to use my laptop keyboard, I have a keyboard that will roll up like a newspaper. It is very flexible, connects with a USB cable, and doesn't take up much room when I pack my computer bag. The wireless mouse works with bluetooth, and I can connect to a TV for a big-screen view. My thrill would be to have a display screen that would roll up like my keyboard and be able to place it anywhere, such as a wall, a window, or on a table.

According to Jim Brug with HP Laboratories, flexible displays will "evolve into real product designs within five years." Researchers have been working with "ink jet" printing of the transistors onto a thin polymer sheet, imprint lithography, and stainless-steel foil that can withstand high temperatures. Nokia Research has been working on a cellphone that will rollup, stretch out and twist into a bracelet shape. IPhones are great, but just think what it would be like to be able to pull the corners and make it stretch out to a bigger display or be able to roll it around your wrist and wear it like a watch. Samsung has a 4 inch flex display that is only .05 mm thick. Small, but powerful.

If it can be imagined, there is someone working on the process to make it real. I'm just waiting on them to make it affordable.

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