Invisible TVs and bendy phones: How OLED is transforming tech



Panasonic has a TV that’s been dubbed ‘invisible’ and LG has a telly as thin as 4 stacked credit cards – what do they have in common? OLED screen technology…

If you’re interested in the most cutting-edge developments in TV and smartphone tech then it’s worth knowing about OLED.

OLED is a type of screen used on phones and TVs that’s incredibly thin. Our current OLED TVs have amazing picture quality. But what’s coming next? 

Panasonic and LG are among the tech firms experimenting with OLED to create futuristic gadgets that make new use of the technology.

OLED

How does OLED TV work?

OLED TVs can create much darker blacks than a regular LED TV.

Both types of screen use LEDs or pixels to create their picture. On an LED TV, a backlight is needed to illuminate these pixels. On an OLED TV there’s no backlight – the pixels create their own light when electricity is passed through them. Each can shut itself off completely to create total blackness, even next to a pixel shining bright white.

With no backlight and self-lighting pixels, the screens can be incredibly thin. Take the LG G6. At 2.57mm, the screen is as thin as 4 stacked credit cards, and it’s backed with a sheer piece of glass. Many of LG’s OLED TVs also have curved screens. 

LG Curved TV

Credit: LG

How else is OLED being used?

Smartphone makers have also been attracted to the thin screen technology – mainly for its flexibility. 

Way back in 2013 Samsung showed off a prototype of a smartphone with a curved screen using OLED technology. Then a year later LG launched the Flex – the first phone to go on sale to consumers with a curved screen.

LG used the flexible OLED technology to design a curved screen that would flatten without breaking when gently pressed on its screen or back. 

Samsung has used flexible OLED screens on its recent Edge smartphones too, which features screens that bend over the edge of the phone to display notifications.

LG display

Credit: LG Display

What does the future hold for OLED TV?

Panasonic has shown off a prototype TV that’s been dubbed ‘invisible’. With no need for a backlight, they’ve created a screen so thin it can be made from fine mesh and made part of your living room. 

  • The mesh screen is embedded into a sliding glass door on a cabinet 
  • When it’s not switched on, it looks like a transparent sheet of glass – showing vases and trinkets in the cabinet behind
  • Switch it on and there’s an incredibly sharp TV built into your cabinet

 LG OLED

Credit: LG

Screens that roll with it?

Once upon a time people would often roll up their newspaper and stick it in their back pocket as they walked to work – imagine being able to do that with a TV or phone. 

At CES 2016 LG showed off an 18-inch screen that can be rolled like a newspaper. It measures less than 1mm thick and can be rolled and unrolled easily – with pictures displayed when the screen is rolled as well as flat.                                           

So will roll-up TVs be the next big thing for OLED?

With CES 2017 around the corner maybe we’ll find out sooner than we think.

LG OLED

Credit: LG Display

Check out our LG OLED TVs