Foldable Display Technology Is No Longer Just for Jazzy Jackets

August 27, 2010

2 Min Read
Foldable Display Technology Is No Longer Just for Jazzy Jackets

What does this light-up apparel--worn by Kanye West at the 2008 Grammy Awards--have to do with medical devices? A lot, actually. The company behind those flashy lighted jackets could contribute to next-generation medical products through the advancement of flexible displays.

Over the years, flexible displays have captured the interest and imagination of a number of researchers and organizations. Chief among them is The FlexTech Alliance (San Jose, CA), which claims to being the sole organization in North America exclusively dedicated to "fostering the growth, profitability, and success of the electronic display and the flexible, printed electronics supply chain." To further this goal, FlexTech recently announced a partnership with Nyx Illuminated Clothing Co. (Los Angeles) to create a foldable display fabricated from a panel of multiple e-paper screens.

"To enable this unique technology to work, our engineers will develop circuitry to simultaneously drive six separate e-paper screens as one single display," says John Bell, project manager for Nyx. "The screen panels will be able to be folded up into the area of a single panel or unfolded to the full six panel area on demand."

A press release from FlexTech describes the aim of the partnership as follows: "This research will demonstrate the capability to reliably fold and unfold multiple e-paper screens, allowing broadsheet screen sizes to be condensed to a 5 x 10-in. size. The final design for this project is intended to allow much of the display production to be manufactured on a roll-to-roll process with its associated high throughput and low cost. The foldable display will go through rigorous reliability testing for shock, vibration, and dynamic flexing by folding the arrangement up to 10,000 cycles."

Nyx specializes in incorporating flexible display technology into jackets designed for clubbers, entertainers, and sales representatives that wish to draw attention and convey brand messaging. However, the company recognizes the technology's potential in other areas, hence its partnership with FlexTech. The firm is also currently working with NASA, for example, to apply its display technology to the development of wearable health monitors for astronauts, according to its Web site. Potential use for storing large amounts of information or data on a foldable or compact display could be advantageous to many medical applications and is a target application area.

Read more about flexible display technology from MPMN's archive. Are you excited about the long-awaited prospect of flexible electronics and the potential they hold for next-generation medical devices? Or are you too distracted by Nyx's signature snazzy jackets? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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