Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"OPTICS: Flexible touchscreen debuts"

Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center (FDC) and its military and industry partners are claiming the first flexible touchscreen integrated with an active-matrix display. The light-weight device is initially headed for the battlefield. Based on active-matrix electrophoretic display technology from E-Ink Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.) the new flexible touchscreen uses materials supplied by DuPont Teijin Films, which manufacturers the plastic used as a substitute for glass in conventional touchscreens. Glass touchscreens can only be used when securely enclosed in a hard-shell housing. For future commercial applications like e-newspapers, however, a more durable flexible touchscreen is needed that would allow users to navigate using on-screen icons, then roll up the e-paper for carrying and storage.

BOTTOM LINE: The newspaper of the future will be a rolled up sheet of DuPont plastic that readers can unroll to read, flipping "pages" by touching an on-screen button on the corner of the page. This dream is being realized at Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center, with the help of military funding to get it off the ground. Combining the fortes of DuPont and E-Ink, the FDC is creating the newspaper of the future, which will first be deployed to solders who will use the it as electronic notepads, and eventually to you and I within three to five years.