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Wearable, Wrappable Displays

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Pursuing different display approaches, Universal Display Corporation (UDC) has developed the Flexible OLED (FOLED) technology where organic light emitting devices are built on flexible substrates such as plastic or metallic foil. When matured, FOLED displays will offer significant performance advantages over LCD displays that are typically built on rigid glass substrates and contain a bulky backlight. They will be thinner and lighter weight and more durable than current displays. Such displays may be made to bend, flex and conform to many surfaces. “Flexible displays are the next revolution in information technology that will enable lighter weight, lower power, more rugged systems for portable and vehicle applications, “said Brig. Gen. Roger Nadeau, commanding general of the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command. These devices cannot be realized with current glass-based displays. Among such devices are body worn displays that conform to the uniform, displays that can be rolled-up and put in a pocket when not in use and unrolled for large-area, high information content.

In February 2005 the U.S. Army and Arizona State University established the Flexible Display Center, to accelerate research, development and manufacture of flexible display technologies, focusing on small, lightweight, rugged information devices designed for military and commercial uses. The center has already produced a proof of concept limited flexibility 4-in. diagonal monochrome devices, while the overall goal is to increase size, reliability and flexibility supporting full color displays as large as 15- to 17-inch diagonal. The center was established as part of a $43.7 million, five-year cooperative agreement between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Arizona State University signed in February 2004.

Army partners include the ARL and the Natick Soldier Center. Industry partners include EV Group, Honeywell, Universal Display Corporation, Kent Displays, E Ink, Ito America, General Dynamics, Rockwell Collins, Abbie Gregg Inc., and the U.S. Display Consortium. University collaborators include Cornell University, the University of Texas and Waterloo University. Additional partners will be engaged in the near future as the center matures.

nding from the Pentagon, Universal Display Corp. is developing a new pen-sized communications device which will utilize a four inch diagonal OLED display imprinted on a thin metal sheet.The company is developing a compact cell phone-like communication device which will utilize a roll-out FOLED display offering full-color, full-motion video capability. This initiative partly funded by U.S. Department of Defense programs through the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), U.S. Army Communication Electronics Research and Development Engineering Center (CERDEC), and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). This futuristic communications device will be form-fitted to a soldier's wrist and communicate wirelessly to a nearby computer, thereby enabling soldiers to see crucial video and graphics information in real time. The device will use a full-color, active-matrix OLED (AMOLED) display built on metal foil. The use of metal foil substrates can lead to a rollable, retractable and rugged display with a small and lightweight form factor for use in portable communication devices. With a 4-inch diagonal screen, the 320 x 240 pixel the display will also use the company's proprietary high-efficiency PHOLED phosphorescent OLED technology and materials. UDC will supply the displays to L-3 Display Systems, which will be the prime contractor for the communications device.

Under a different contract, the UDC is developing a novel, top-emission infra-red pixel on metal foil substrates for use in military applications. This flexible day/night PHOLED display will be compatible with current-generation night vision capabilities employed by the military. These devices can be incorporated into a color display with conventional full-color emitting pixels to produce a display that has both daytime and covert nighttime functionality. Integrating these visible and infrared-emitting OLEDs on a flexible steel foil substrate will provide a rugged package to ensure survivability in an uncontrolled battlefield environment.

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  Updated: 11/23/2005

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