Kodak Introduces Innovative Flexible Display Technology

Eastman Kodak Company is introducing a technology that enables the creation of thin, flexible, lightweight displays. The flexible display technology has the potential for use in a number of retail and consumer applications that require easy-to-read, portable and changeable displays of information.

Building on Kodak’s expertise in design and production of precision multi-layer films, this new flexible display technology is characterized by its so-called “bistability,” or the capacity to retain an image without being attached to a power source. Made of coated plastic, Kodak’s flexible film technology is shatter-proof and offers a wide viewing angle-qualities well-suited for applications such as retail signs and rewriteable badges, among others.

Kodak’s flexible display technology enables the electronics and power to be removed from the display and still maintain an image. This will enable users to operate and change multiple signs with a single set of electronics, a development that can fundamentally change the economics for multiple display installations.

“Kodak’s flexible display innovation offers real advantages over conventional LCD displays – it’s easy to see, it won’t break, it’s easy to update, and stays ‘on’ without power,” said Willy Shih, president, Display & Components Group, and senior vice president, Eastman Kodak Company. “These features are important in a variety of industries that use signage to communicate with their customers.”

Always-On Display, Cost-Effective Electronics

Kodak flexible display technology is the basis for reflective, monochrome displays. It comprises polymer dispersed cholesteric liquid crystals (PDChLC) applied to a flexible substrate for an extremely thin and durable display surface. The liquid crystals have two stable energy states – “on” or “off” – and power is required only to change the image displayed. Because the technology does not require polarizers, displays are easy to read at wide viewing angles.

Additionally, the absence of polarizers and the use of innovative Kodak manufacturing processes hold promise for high-volume, cost-competitive production.

“Kodak’s core competencies in film coating and manufacturing can be applied to a variety of display technologies,” said Shih. “By applying our expertise in how we manufacture film—using a roll-to-roll process—to display technology, Kodak is working to advance cost-effective, high-volume production of changeable displays.”

The market for information display graphics is estimated to be $16 billion, according to industry research firm IT Strategies Inc. The display industry research firm, iSuppli, has estimated that the retail/signage/billboard segment for electronic displays was $660 million in 2002 and projected to grow to $2.6 billion in 2009. This demonstrates the significant and growing potential for innovative electronic display technologies.

Flexible displays are the latest display technology to emerge from Kodak. The company holds a pioneering position in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays; and Kodak recently introduced a commercial prototype of a Stereoscopic Imaging Display system. The stereoscopic display delivers a three-dimensional (3D) stereo image ideal for intensive visualization tasks, such as oil and gas exploration, molecular and chemical modeling, computer-aided design, entertainment and gaming, and many other applications.

Kodak will demonstrate flexible displays, OLED and other display technologies at the Society for Information Display conference, May 24-27 in Seattle. Stanley Stephenson, Senior Research Scientist, Eastman Kodak Company, will present a paper on flexible film at the conference on Wednesday, May 26 at 9:00 a.m.

Kodak plans to have flexible film demonstration kits available later this year.

For more information about displays, click here.

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