We first reported on a Samsung invention back in 2011 when they revealed that they were working on a cool foldable display. Today we cover a more robust patent focused like a laser beam on their upcoming "Flexible Display." We say upcoming because Samsung just confirmed last week that they plan to kick-start mass production of flexible displays in late 2012 for 2013 devices. Future Android devices from Samsung could take on the shape of a book or even something cylindrical in nature like a smart bracelet. A quick look at our cover graphic also indicates that they have another cool form factor in the wings that includes a pull-out flexible display. It's clear that hot Android smartphones sporting flexible displays from Samsung could ignite another round of wild innovation in the mobile space in 2013. And for device-crazed consumers, we see nothing but exciting times ahead. Report Updated September 11, 2012
Samsung's Flexible Display Overview
A flexible display refers to a display apparatus which could be bent. While a glass substrate is used as a substrate of a general display apparatus, a plastic film is used to provide the flexible display apparatus with flexibility allowing for folding and unfolding. Such a flexible display apparatus has properties of thinness, lightness, impact resistance as well as flexibility, which may result in an infinite amount of applications in the future due to its high manufacturability.
Samsung's invention covers multiple exemplary flexible display apparatus embodiments. The displays, according to Samsung, are capable of decreasing power consumption and increasing a user's convenience by stopping the supply of operating power to a flexible display unit based on a degree of bending of the flexible display unit, without requiring a separate input signal from a user, and a control method thereof.
Small Devices, Huge Displays
Samsung's patent FIGS. 1A and 1B shown below illustrate an example of a flexible display apparatus which could be rolled up. The shown flexible display apparatus may be utilized for miniaturization of electronics equipped with a display unit.
Overview of Samsung's Flexible Display System
Samsung's patent FIG. 2 presents an overview of a flexible display apparatus which includes a flexible display unit 10, a sensor unit 20, a power supply unit 30 and a control unit 40 which controls the flexible display apparatus 1.
Samsung states that flexible displays could be bendable, be made to appear crooked and/or could be folded and rolled such as flexible displays or electronic papers – all while maintaining display features typically included in rigid flat displays.
Additionally, flexible displays will be light, unbreakable and robust. The flexible display unit may include a substrate made of materials such as flexible plastics, metal foil, thin glass or the like. Other attributes may include any of the following: an electroluminescent display (ELD), electrophoretic display (EPD – used in electronic paper), electrochromic display (ECD), liquid crystal display (LCD), active matrix LCD (AMLCD), active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) or the like), a driver unit (for example, a-Si thin film transistor (TFT), low temperature poly silicon (LTPS) TFT, organic TFT (OTFT), oxide TFT, nano TFT or the like) which drives the displaying part, and a protection film which protects the displaying part.
Target Devices for Flexible Displays
In this exemplary embodiment, the flexible display apparatus 1 may be implemented by any type of electronic device equipped with the flexible display unit 10, including, but not limited to, a mobile phone, a personal digital assistant (PDA), an MP3 player, a PC monitor, a portable PC (such as a net book, a smart book and a laptop computer), a TV and an electronic book.
Samsung's Bended Display Mimics a Book
In Samsung's patent FIG. 3A we see that the flexible display apparatus may generally include the flexible display unit 10 and a part 11 including the power supply and control units noted in FIG. 2 above.
The display of patent FIG. 3A may be bent, folded or crooked with respect to a predetermined bending central line seen above as patent point #51. The sensor unit 20 may detect a degree of bending of the flexible display unit as the predetermined bending angle. If the unit is abused or not in use for a given amount of time, the power supply will shut off automatically.
Samsung's patent FIG. 3B simply illustrates the condition where the flexible display apparatus is substantially folded. In that particular bended state, it sure looks like it's mimicking a folded book, don't you think? Considering that Samsung earlier listed the possibility of using an electrophoretic display in an electronic book as one of their possible end user products, it's not much of a stretch at all to envision this being used as such in the future. A few other interesting concept designs have been leaked over time, such as this one.
The Flexible Display could take on Cylindrical Shapes
Samsung's patent FIGS. 4A and 4B show another example of a detecting operation of the sensor unit in the flexible display apparatus shown in FIG. 2. In this scenario, the sensor unit may be adhered to the entire rear side of the flexible display.
Will Flexible Displays be a Disruptive Technology or Just a Gimmick?
Flexible Display technology has the power to challenge the smart device leaders of our time. It opens the door to new kinds of smart device form factors such as bracelets and books or perhaps even a mini mobile theater in your pocket for entertainment or one-on-one business presentation purposes. The possibilities are endless. On the other hand, flexible displays could end up being nothing more than a flash in the pan gimmick. In the end, time will tell. But something tells me that for device-crazed consumers, there's nothing but exciting times ahead.
Samsung's patent filing in the US was in Q2 2011 and published in Q1 2012 at the USPTO. Patent Bolt respectfully requests that all referring sites limit the use of our graphics to a total of two. Thank you.
Update September 11, 2012: Samsung Display Mass-produces World’s First Flexible Display
Notice: Patent Bolt presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patent Bolt reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Here are a Few Sites covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Samsung HD Blog Italy, Talk Android, mob.hr Croatian, IT Times Germany, Tweakers Amsterdam (Dutch), Softpedia, phoneArena, BGR, SlashGear, Phandroid, Droid Life, DailyTech, Movil Zona Spain, Tom's Hardware France, PoderPDA Spanish, Inside-Handy Germany, Samsung Updates, Android Magazin Germany, Elektronik Praxis Germany, and more.
Note: The sites that we link to above offer you an avenue to make your comments about this report in other languages. These great community sites also provide our guests with varying takes on Samsung's latest invention. Whether they're pro or con, you may find them to be interesting, fun or feisty. If you have the time, join in!