OK, let's kill the suspense. At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Samsung has announced that Youm is its new brand name for its bendable screen OLED technology. Would it be CES without Samsung showing off a few new curves? No it would not, and Samsung did not disappoint - but this time around it also managed to bring a tiny bit more reality to the whole thing by tagging a name to the tech. So, um, Youm it is.
Even with a brand name, however, the technology still looks to be entirely in the realm of tomorrow, at least as far as its application to smartphones and tablets goes. Given the curved TV capability Samsung is also demonstrating this year, curved screen technology is right around the corner, but it appears to be the case only for "fixed" curve environments.
That is, a curved TV isn't a TV you can actually bend yourself. It's a curved TV with a predefined, predetermined and decidedly fixed curve to it. It's cool, no doubt about it, and a curved TV will most definitely provide a more immersive environment. But again, it’s a fixed curve we're talking about, and not the "flex and bend at will" displays we all really imagine when we hear them mentioned. Truth be told, it doesn't appear to us that the technology is any closer to being realized for smartphone and tablet (and presumably laptop and other computer and gaming devices) application. At least not yet.
Samsung did add additional terms to flex and curve - adding "bendable, foldable and rollable" to the mix. To add an exclamation point to that, Stephen Woo, president of Samsung Device Solutions, told the audience during his CES 2013 keynote that Youm, "Doesn't just bend the rules of display technologies, it completely rewrites them." It's a good line, but there was no indication or hint as to when we might actually see the real thing in our hands.
OK, so imagine a rolled up tablet sized screen you can store in a tube. Or a foldable screen that might unfold not unlike say a napkin from a smartphone sized screen into a 10 inch tablet size screen. Or perhaps we can imagine a screen that folds around the side of your smartphone and is able to display information on your phone's edge (not unlike the spine of a book). These are all concepts - and perhaps they may begin to see the light of day as prototypes late in 2014 or in time for CES 2015. Why is that?
Take a look at the following image:
What do you notice? Well, as in every demonstration of bendable screen technology we've seen to date, you see that the screen itself is completely detached from any other electronics or otherwise hard cases. We're not quite there yet with bendable circuit boards and bendable chips or chipsets. So that self-contained rollable tablet isn't happening any time soon - much as we wish it would. But a tablet with an extremely thin display that might conceivably be unfolded into something twice or four times the original size that still leaves the electronics in its original tablet shell is a concept that is much, much closer to reality. And a very useful thing!
The real first application for Youm (and similar technologies others, including Apple and Nokia, are working on) is to create unbreakable smartphone and tablet displays that are also super thin and very lightweight. An unbreakable screen that can also deliver the same (if not better) levels of brightness and color in a super thin package (that will also likely draw much less power) is currently a holy grail of sorts. In addition to the likely benefit of consuming less power, a super thin display will also allow manufactures to use much larger (thicker) batteries that in turn will deliver a charge for much longer periods of time than are now possible.
This latter application isn't a concept - it is near-reality. And something we may possibly see before the holiday season for 2013 rolls in.
That is a real and major step in the right direction
Edited by Brooke Neuman