Displays: AUO Throws a Curve and Slices it Thin

AUO is expected to unveil today a number of innovative display technologies, including what it claims are "the world's first Curved Display Technology on glass substrate," and "the world's thinnest Ultra Thin 1.9-inch TFT-LCD." AUO is one of over 550 vendors exhibiting their wares at the Society for Information Display's Display Week 2008 show in Los Angeles this week.

"The world’s first Curved Display is developed and produced by AUO with TFT-LCD process on glass substrate. The curved radius is 100mm, and therefore requires a special thinning technology. The specially designed curved backlight unit maintains uniformity in brightness and contrast on the curved surface. Unlike the existing e-paper on a flexible substrate, AUO's new curved display technology can bring TFT-LCD technology into play in terms of both color performance and image quality. Therefore, it could be applied to some curved display applications in the future, such as watches and dashboards etc."

This will be by no means the first real-world sighting of a curved display: Both Alienware and NEC showed off curved-display prototypes back in January. But the Alienware and NEC technologies we're for larger-scale displays and neither utilized an actual curved display substrate: Both the Alienware and NEC prototype used DLP projection.

"AUO will also demonstrate a series of mobile device technologies, in which the world's thinnest Ultra Thin 1.9-inch TFT-LCD is expected to grab the spotlight. This ultra thin TFT-LCD, with a thickness of merely 0.63mm, broke AUO's own record of 0.69mm released at FPD International 2007 in Japan. This 8-inch TFT-LCD uses special glass thinning technologies, shrinking the thickness of related components, to achieve 0.63mm in thickness, 2.1 grams in weight and 400nits in brightness. The end result is a multitude of desired features – light, slim, elegant and sunlight readable, to meet current mobile lifestyles."

While both of these prototype designs are being introduced on the smaller scale, there is good reason to suspect that the technology should scale up to larger-sized display technology in the near future. AUO (Taiwan-based AU Optronics Corp.) currently manufactures over 20 percent of "large-sized TFT-LCD" panels in the world. You might not be familiar with AUO, but you've probably heard of some of the companies that have merged into AUO in the last seven years: Acer Display Technology, Unipac Optoelectronics, and Quanta Display.

Another technology AUO plans on showcasing at Display Week 2008 is "its in-cell multi-touch technology," which "unlike the current touch panels in the market, AUO's in-cell multi-touch TFT-LCD integrates touch function features into the TFT manufacturing process without adding an additional glass." The visible-in-direct-sunlight, 4.3-inch display will be in production before the end of June. An 8-inch design is in the works as well.

Users of iPhones and the iPod Touch will be happy to hear that AUO has also developed "a fingerprint free surface... its grease-resistance features help to easily wipe off smudges and grease from the display." AUO will be showing off the design on a 2.4-inch panel. Let's hope that Apple sits up and takes notice.