Flexible, newspaper-style tablets inching closer

Flexible, newspaper-style tablets inching closer

Flexible, roll-up digital screens capable of displaying full colour images are just three to five years away, according to a research firm behind the technology.

Have you ever wished you could roll up your iPad like a newspaper while traveling on the go? No? Us neither. But the option may soon be available thanks to a new technological breakthrough from Arizona State University.  

The Flexible Display Center (FDC) is an initiative funded by the US Army in conjunction with a collective of technology firms, including PC manufacturer Hewlett-Packard. The project aims to bring flexible digital displays to the military, with plans to create consumer devices further down the track.

“Our mission is to advance full-color, video rate, flexible display technology and catalyze development of a vibrant flexible display and flexible electronics industry to produce integrated electronic systems with advanced functionality,” explains the FDC website (which is geek-speak for creating flexible screens).

"These revolutionary displays will usher in a new era of powerful real-time information sharing through ubiquitous commercial and military application in everything from portable pocket-held and vehicle-mounted devices to permanent and temporary conferencing/command rooms.”

The first batch of prototypes is currently earmarked for the US military, including a miniature digital map that can be worn by soldiers like a wristwatch. The chief advantage of this technology is that it won’t shatter or crack like glass; an obvious advantage in hostile war zones.

Check out a video of the hardware below:

FDC’s director Nick Colaneri has spoken about the possibility of introducing flexible screens to the consumer market. Indeed, the institution hopes to spearhead the next revolution in information displays.

"You can start thinking about putting electronic displays on things where you wouldn't ordinarily think of having them," Colaneri told azcentral.com. "How about a stack of thin displays that I can peel off and stick on things, sort of like a pad of Post-It notes?" Naturally, tablets, e-readers and laptops are also tipped to benefit from the technology.

According to Colaneri, flexible screens capable of rolling up and displaying color images will hit the market in three to five years. In the meantime, we'll need to stick to our laptop bags.

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