LG commissioned to build ‘stretchable’ displays by 2024

Although foldable devices are still in the works, South Korea is aiming to tackle the "final phase" of research

South Korea has recruited display manufacturer LG Display to lead an R&D project exploring the viability of stretchable displays, with panels expected to be delivered within four years.

The large scale project, commissioned by the country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, aims to develop stretchable displays that can extend by up to 20% by 2024, with LG spearheading a collective of 21 organisations.

Following a smattering of foldable devices hitting the market in the last few years, particularly from Samsung and Huawei, a host of manufacturers including Microsoft and Lenovo have recently announced their own variants.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, for example, was heralded as a prototype for the future of notebooks. Microsoft, meanwhile, last year debuted its Surface Neo, a foldable tablet that’s been ten years in the making.

LG, however, believes this stretchable display technology represents the logical ‘final phase’ of foldable displays. The collective, which includes rival companies, research institutes and universities, will work together to develop core technologies, materials, equipment and components, to obtain patents, and to create use cases for stretchable displays.

"LG Display will develop stretchable displays, a new form factor which could vastly widen the scope of applications that displays can be applied to,” said senior vice president and head of LG Display laboratory Dr Soo-Young Yoon.

“Through this R&D project, LG Display looks to contribute to the evolution of future display technologies while solidifying its leadership position in the industry with a portfolio of various next-generation display technologies.”

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He added the technology can play a huge role alongside the likes of connected devices, 5G and self-driving cars. Stretchable displays would shift in ‘free form’ – similar to the way a rubber band stretches – without affecting the quality of image through screen distortion.

Although foldable devices are becoming more prevalent, the development and launch of these devices have faced repeated delays – from the prematurely released Samsung Galaxy Fold to the critically-underwhelming Motorola Razr reboot.

Although LG, and the South Korean government, could be seen as ‘jumping the gun’, getting ahead on the trend early could be beneficial for the long-term. The promise of stretchable displays manifests as multi-foldable smart devices, wearing devices with excellent fit an, and displays fitted into vehicles that overcome design constraints.

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