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There’s typically two touchscreen devices consumers use in 2014: a smartphone and a tablet. The smartphone fills all your communication and entertainment needs as well as being pocket-friendly, where as a tablet offers a larger screen to surf on, but is much less portable. However, that could all change with the introduction of folding touchscreen displays.
Proof of that comes from Semiconductor Energy Laboratory (SEL), which used the Display Innovation 2014 event in Japan last week to demonstrate a three-fold OLED touchscreen display.
The OLED touchscreen SEL has developed is 8.7-inches and has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (254ppi). As well as including all the benefits of OLED (very low power use, excellent colors, thinness), SEL managed to make the screen fold in three. As you can see from the images, that allows what looks like a typical 8.7-inch tablet to fold down to be a device that’s closer in size to a smartphone.
The display itself weighs 6 grams and is clearly only a prototype for now, but it does give us a glimpse of one possible future for tablets and smartphones. Not only would this allow for a tablet that folds up to be pocket-friendly like a smartphone is, it means a smartphone could fold down to be something the size of a card case, for example. It could also mean the tablet and smartphone eventually merge into a single device.
This three-fold display should work without the need to develop electronic components that are capable of bending. The prototype folds down into a solid frame, which can be used to house the required components that allow a smartphone or tablet to function.
Of course, whether or not this folding display comes to market depends on just how resilient and reliable it is. Would it cope with being folded and unfolded multiple times a day? We may find out next year if a smartphone or tablet vendor takes an interest in SEL’s tech.