Arizona State University (ASU) announced today that its Flexible Display Center (FDC) has created what it claims is the first flexible, touch-screen display. The prototype is a thin active-matrix display with grayscale support, laid out on a "flexible, glass-free substrate
." The display is capable of "real-time user input
" via finger touch or stylus. "The breakthrough comes as a result of combining the Flexible Display Center's low-temperature thin film transistor technology, DuPont Teijin Films' high-performance Teonex polyethylene napthalate (PEN) films and E Ink's Vizplex-ink laminate to form active matrix electrophoretic (electronic paper) displays. The touchscreen capability is enabled by integrating a low-power display controller that was co-developed by E Ink and Epson and demonstrated as part of E Ink's developer's kit."
ASU's FDC is a research lab co-sponsored by the U.S. government, private industry, and academic institutions, which was established in 2004 to create advanced display technologies for military and commercial applications. The military has a vested interest in a touch-screen-capable, flexible display as the technology can offer a number of unique benefits to soldiers in the field, such as a shatterproof
display and low-power needs--the display only consumes power during touch input. Nick Colaneri, Director of the FDC, spoke of a number of additional, potential military benefits:
"We believe successful deployment of flexible touchscreen technology can stimulate a number of applications that will allow Army soldiers, and ultimately other users, to input, store or transmit real-time data from remote locations using ultra low-power displays that are rugged, sunlight readable, lightweight and thin."
The FDC states
that its "mission is to advance full-color, video rate, flexible display technology...
" The newly-announced prototype appears to lack at least one of the features of the FDC's mission statement: full-color support. But while the FDC hasn't made an official statement as to potential future iterations of a video-capable, full-color, touch-screen flexible display, it's a safe bet that the lab is set on that as a goal. As Sony demonstrated
a flexible display technology capable of displaying color video as far back as 2007, it has been proven that color and video are possible with flexible display technology. Now the trick will be meshing touch-screen and color capabilities together.