Johannesburg - By now, very few have not heard of foldable smartphones; however, the technology behind the screen could reshape the future and various industries.
In the latest saga around bendable smartphones, Google has now delayed production of its foldable phones, according to industry experts and insiders.
While this has relatively no impact on South Africans as Google smartphones very rarely make their way to local shores, intentions by the company (which isn’t really known for smartphones) to create a foldable smartphone indicate an uptake in the technology used to produce such displays.
When foldable smartphones first made their way to the country in 2018, prices were exorbitant, fetching up to R50 000, intended for a very exclusive market.
However, this year saw the launch of flexible smartphones from Huawei and Samsung which became more accessible to the general public, thanks to more affordable prices on a contract despite remaining a niche product.
But it isn’t the form factor of a smartphone that could reshape the future of various industries, but rather the material of which the display is made.
The term “LED”, short for light-emitting diode, has been thrown around for years in the TV and smartphone space, being the primary material used to engineer any screen. However, the term “OLED” has surfaced more frequently in both industries in recent years.
‘O’ is for organic
OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) displays, in both TVs and smartphones, make use of molecules and light produced by electricity to form a picture. One of the major benefits of the technology is that it results in a more vivid, sharper visual.
OLED also produces pure black within a picture, which makes other colours on the display brighter and more vibrant.
However, the most important characteristic of OLED is that it is a malleable material, meaning it can be bent into shape, hence the OLED first introduced its party trick in foldable smartphones.
What OLED means for the future
Because OLED can be bent into various forms, experts predict that the technology has the potential to lend itself to the development of other useful applications.
Top SA media analyst and managing director of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, believes the decreasing cost of OLED over the years has led to the technology becoming more easily accessible, with the greater possibility of being adapted into other applications and uses.
“Not long ago OLED was an expensive rarity. Now it is standard on smartphones and even on cars,” Goldstuck told IOL.
Imagine a hybrid smartphone-smartwatch that wraps the wrist like a watch but opens up into a full-functioning smartphone. Goldstuck suggests that all displays in the future could be developed using OLED.
“With curved and folded displays becoming more widely available, this points to a near future where any smart or touch display will be OLED or similar,” he said.
Thanks to its versatility, OLED could, in theory, wrap around a building – imagine the possibilities for advertisers. What about the transport sector? Imagine choosing a new colour for your car every day or transforming yourself into a walking TV with OLED clothing.
As long as any media content exists, experts believe the possibilities and applications for OLED are endless.