Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting


Could This Be the Answer?…

As a reader of these columns, perhaps you have already noted that on several occasions I have expressed doubts about the anticipated commercial success of electronic books. In my travels, I have seen only a few in actual use and it’s not at all clear to me what compelling advantage they have or what existing problem they solve. A conventional book has always seemed much better suited to the cramped environment of an airplane -- or even as a comfortable object to curl up with in front of the proverbial fire on a dreary winter day.

However, something in the last few days caught my eye that could perhaps change my currently somewhat negative opinion of E-books. At this year’s FPD International show in Japan, Samsung showed an OLED display that folds down the middle -- just like a conventional book. Actually, the photo that I saw of this display looks even better than a printed book because the left and right images are almost perfectly matched with only a barely visible seam. Whoa… Suddenly, this looks like a real live book, but maybe even better. Even if the two displays are not flexible, this concept could create a breakthrough for the E-book application. The possibility of carrying and using an electronic book that folds into a sturdy clamshell and then opens to reveal two pages of text -- just like a “real” book -- takes on an appeal that the current models don’t come close to offering.

Think about it. With this display we can emulate the way a printed book looks and feels. We can create a resistive “hinge” that would allow the two displays to be held partly folded just like a regular book. Two pages can be displayed at the same time also like a printed book. And full color images can be displayed just like the best quality printed magazines. Touch sensitive surfaces could provide the feel of turning pages.

However, with this display we can do all this and then much more. We could instantly convert from reading a book to watching a movie. We could connect to any computer or Internet device. And we can do all this in full color, high resolution, and with full-motion video capability.

This concept of “foldability” to create a rugged portable clam-shell display combined with the use of OLED technology -- rather than an alternative that does not produce full color or is limited to slow refresh rates -- creates an entirely new opportunity that simply begs to be exploited.

We have already entered the era where we are evermore dependent on having various communication devices with us at all times. Some of us are so addicted to this non-stop world of staying “in touch” that we cannot even stow our carry- on luggage without desperately grasping at the cell phone squeezed between our shoulder and ear. Or having our hand-held e-mail devices ready for instant access as the plane lands and begins to exit the active runway. In this environment, an electronic book that can be opened and closed like a printed book and that can instantly display information of our choosing could become an indispensable travel companion. To have a portable device that can be used to access text from a book, a full-color magazine, a movie, a game, or even a work-related document, all in a two-page format -- now that’s a gadget that I could readily wish for Santa Claus to bring me this Christmas.

Often the difference between a mediocre product and one that proves to be truly successful is a seemingly small modification. As we have seen time and again, the folks at Apple seem to know how to do this better than most others. Perhaps they or someone else will finally refine this E-book concept into something truly exciting. For that, I can hardly wait.

Given such great opportunities for the development of new exciting products, we in the worldwide display community have much to be thankful for this Christmas Season. We have many wonderful and as yet unidentified opportunities before us. For consumers in all parts of the world, we are the Elves in Santa’s workshop who help to create all the great new products that make their lives more interesting. And for that we can thank the Santa Clauses of our choice for giving us these unlimited opportunities to make such valuable contributions.

I close this month’s column with my warmest wishes to each and every one of you this Holiday Season. Should you wish to discuss any of these topics with me, it would be my pleasure to hear from you through this web-site, directly via HYPERLINK, or by phone at 425-898-9117.