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The future is flexible

Smartphones that unfold to become tablets, adjustable curved TVs and popup presentation screens are some of a radical new wave of product concepts made possible by advances in flexible display technology highlighted in the latest research report from Futuresource Consulting.

Radical new wave of products
Radical new wave of products

The Opportunity for Flexible Displays in the CE & B2B Markets states that ‘fully flexible’ devices will be viable within the next one to two years, allowing repeatedly foldable or rollable screens. New materials and design processes will drive innovation and, in some cases, completely new usage models.

Currently, the industry is in a phase of ‘limited flexibility’, commonly referred to as ‘conformed displays’, characterised by products like curved TVs and Samsung’s ‘Edge’ mobile devices. These displays may be shaped, but are normally supported in situ, with limited or no manipulation available to the end-user.

Futuresource expects the CE market to lead the way, with over a quarter of all new smartphones by 2026 featuring flexible screens, which among other attributes, will render them unbreakable. As manufacturing costs reduce, there will also be the potential for bespoke signage and pull-down interactive whiteboards.

David Tett, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting, said: “The value of products involving flexible displays will surge to over $200 billion within five years and approach $300 billion within a decade. This strong growth is anticipated due to the range of product benefits it creates, from increased robustness, design differentiation and ease of display manufacturing customisation through to new applications such as e-paper, e-fashion and home appliances. ‘Unbreakable’ products will become a reality, reducing the need for manufacturers to handle returns and service, while bespoke signage will be easier to produce and could offer users the added benefits of adjustability and reuse.”

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