PORTLAND, Ore. -- Flexible and curved displays are a booming market that is just getting off the ground. From flexible displays for mobile devices like e-books to curved wraparound displays that provide an immersive experience for television viewers, the market for flexible and curved displays is growing rapidly, according to a Touch Display Research report released this week.
"The flexible and curved market will be $388 million this year," Jennifer Colegrove, president and analyst of the Santa Clara, Calif., research firm, told us. "And we forecast it will grow to $27 billion by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate of 53 percent."
A curved display from Sony.
According to the report, flexible electrophoretic displays (like those from E Ink for e-books) will grow quickly, especially in 2014. Flexible and curved active-matrix organic light-emitting diode and curved liquid crystal displays (LCDs) will start to grow rapidly after 2016. In fact, the curved display television market is already taking off. LG and Samsung already have curved televisions on the market, and Sony is promising a model in time for Christmas that uses an curved LED backlit LCD.
The report says that 260 companies and research institutes are developing flexible and curved display designs.
In addition to televisions and e-books, a market is emerging for wearable Internet of Things (IoT) devices, some of which are poised to reach the market in 2014. For instance, most smartwatches today use rigid displays, but Touch Display Research predicts that flexible and curved displays that are more ergonomic for wristwear (and provide more surface area) will be all the rage. Smartwatches that wrap around the wrist and display not just the time, but also all sorts of alerts and other information from a Bluetooth connected smartphone, will become very popular over the next few years.
All types of other devices could profit from a flexible or curved display, according to the report. For instance, Lexar's flash memory cards already use a flexible electrophoretic display from E Ink to provide a storage capacity meter. Many similar applications are already here or in development.
The flexible and curved display market is at $388 million today
but is forecast to grow to $27 billion by 2023.
(Source: Touch Display Research)
The time is right, because the materials and subsystems are available to original equipment manufacturers to capitalize on the popularity of flexible and curved displays, the report said. For instance, thin-film transistors (TFTs) are widely available on flexible polymer substrates. Ultra-thin curved glass is commercially available. Inexpensive replacements for the indium-tin oxide that connects to TFTs are in mass production, and the roll-to-roll facilities for high-precision manufacturing of flexible displays are up and running. The report also details the many challenges that must be overcome to reach the $27 billion mark.