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Made in India Magazine | May 15, 2021

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Harshit Sinha

Display technologies are the most important part of devices, because they act as the interface between a machine and its user. In this piece, we will look at some of the expected future display technologies that will be wowing us soon.

Until the 1990s, the only way electronic text could be displayed on a screen is through a cathode ray tube. Right from the radar technologies of 1940 to the mid-nineties, there simply was nothing else. Televisions and computers therefore had to be clunky and fragile, but now we have a whole host of flat screens and pixels that will put a cathode ray tube to shame.
There may come a time, though, when our flat screens of today will be left behind in the relentless march of science. Let us look at some of the ways in which we will all be seeing and reading in the future.
You may have seen advertisements for OLED monitors. They’re all the rage these days, though they have been in use in smart phones and tablets for years now. On traditional workstation monitors, OLED displays can provide incredibly high-resolution images at hitherto unseen levels of contrast. Not only that, it’s also more energy efficient than any other technology that has come before. OLED stands for organic light emitting diodes, and it makes use of organic materials that glow a certain colour when electric current is passed through them.

2. Flexible displays
The advantage of OLED as a technology is that since it’s made of organic material, it allows for bending of the screen without loss in image quality. Last year, LG Display unveiled an 18-inch OLED display panel that could be rolled up like a newspaper to a diameter of 3 centimetres. Major manufacturers like LG and Samsung are continuing to research and develop flexible displays for smart phones, tablets, monitors and big honking TVs.

3. Foldable smart phones
What if you could bring out your smart phone and unfold it into a TV-sized display? It is quite possible that in the future, you would be able to do just that. No need to watch that movie on a tiny screen when you can unfold it into a television-size display. This uses a technology called e-paper, which has been around for decades now. Canada’s Human Media Lab debuted a version of this foldable smart phone which is currently a bit clunky, but can hopefully become sleeker with time.

4. Haptic touch screens
Touch screens have become quite commonplace over the last decade, with the invasion of smart phones and tablets. What’s next for the touch screen market is a screen that will touch you back, and give you tactile feedback on your action. How about a button that pushes you back, or a rough background that actually feels rough to your finger? These are called haptic screens, and the way they work is by transmitting small electrical currents to the fingertip to create a particular sensation.

5. Virtual Reality sets
This has been a long time coming, but it looks like 2015 will be the year which sees the first virtual reality head-mounted sets hit the market. There is the Oculus Rift, which is a product of a startup company, Oculus VR, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014. Then there is Sony’s Project Morpheus, which is another head-mounted virtual reality set that is currently targeted just at gamers. But if virtual reality technology goes big, there are applications in just about every field of human endeavour, architecture and education to name but two.

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