So what exactly are we looking at here? Is this some kind of new artwork using sound wavelengths?
Well you can be forgiven for thinking that. The image and video below, divorced of any context, is a little hard to figure out. Yes, it could be an old Windows Media Player visualisation but it isn’t. It’s a screen test from Samsung’s R&D labs, in fact.
Nope. What looks like a collision between an oscilloscope and a sonogram is actually just Samsung doing all sorts of terrible things to one of their OLED displays. It kind of goes without saying that you shouldn’t attempt this at home, even if you have the equipment lying around. We’re not going to ask where you got it…
Okay, but seriously, what are we looking at?
You’re looking at two views of Samsung’s flexible OLED display torture-test. The top half shows an isometric view of the screen (or of beasties attempting to rip their way through the fabric of reality from the Dungeon Dimensions), while the bottom half is the side view. It’s the bottom half where all the action happens, because it’s showing just how flexible Samsung’s new screen really is. That’s a lot of deformation.
Oh, is THAT what that is. Okay, but why?
Samsung debuted this display, a 9.1in OLED panel which can stretch to cover a greater area, at the Display Week 2017 event in Los Angeles last week. The screen can warp up to 12mm (the Galaxy S8 is just 8mm thick, to give you an idea how far that is) before resuming its shape — kinda of like the surface of a deflated balloon but without the spittle-coated interior. And they’re going to use it for… things.
You still haven’t answered the ‘why’.
Thanks for pointing that out. Samsung hasn’t either. Not really, and it’s their tech. They have vague ambitions of integrating this flexible OLED screen into wearable devices, motor vehicles, Internet of Things devices, and, perhaps ominously, AI applications. Think a wearable band that can stretch to fit over your hand and stay on your wrist, that sort of thing. Plus, we would totally wear a shirt that you can check Facebook on. At least once, anyway.
So we can expect it soon, then?
Tough to say. If Samsung’s showcasing the tech at something as specialised as Display Week chances are we’re not going to see it for a couple of years, at least. If it turns up at CES in 2018, though, then we’d expect to see it in phones by July 2020. So… we’ll be watching Las Vegas next year like the tech-hungry hawks we are.