“Flexible displays” actually fall into two distinct categories. There are the “deformable” displays that can be curled and uncurled; the holy grail in this department is the “pen” display where the screen retracts into a cylindrical case like a tiny window shade. However, there is a second, more modest category: “conformable” displays. These are panels that can be produced so that they are permanently curved. The auto industry is especially anxious to have these available at reasonable prices because it will revolutionize car dashboard displays. Imagine that instead of fixed dials and guages, you have a high resolution display that can show different information at any location, depending on what you’re doing. For example, you don’t need a speedometer and fuel gauge when backing up; how about replacing them with a high-res image from a rear bumper camera whenever the gear shift is in Reverse?
One of the problem with making a conformable LCD display is that you have to maintain a consistent cell thickness. If there is more liquid crystal material in one area of the panel than another, you will get different image quality.
AUO is one of the leading LCD makers in Taiwan, and the company claims to have made the world’s first convex curved LCD display which it is scheduled to show at Display Taiwan 2008 this week.
AUO has developed special techniques to thin the substrate glass, which helps make it possible to create a curved panel. Last month at SID 2008 in Los Angeles, the company demonstrated what it claimed to be the first concave LCD panel, curved to a 100 mm radius.