Aug 16, 2018


We first got our taste of display technology in the 1800s, when the cathode ray tube made its debut. Now, about 150 years later, we have things like touch screens, LCDs, OLEDs, Ultra HD, and so many others that make one thing clear: the evolution of display technology still continues.

From this evolution, the new display technologies of today give us better viewing angles and improved color spectrums with blacker blacks and brighter colors. On top of that, display technology is literally everywhere and has permeated our everyday lives; it’s on our televisions, computers, phones, tablets, refrigerators and a whole host of other devices.

As for the future, developments to display technology keep on coming that indicate that the screens of tomorrow will look and work like the futuristic displays we’ve seen in countless Sci-Fi movies and shows.

Let’s get started.

Display Technologies 2018 and Next Generation Display Technologies

Living in the tail-end of the 2010s means that a lot of the technology we use every day seemed like science fiction in the early 2000s. For example, touchscreen displays and screens that deliver pictures so clear they seem even more real than life.

We also have a lot variation in terms of displays; if you prize display ratio over other features, there’s a display for you; if you prefer color quality over other features, there’s a display for you.

The point is that the world of the display has rapidly evolved from its inception, and we now have so many options that range from LCD and OLED to electronic ink:

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

LCDs, unlike OLED displays that produce their own light, use a backlight or reflector to illuminate pixels — liquid crystals don’t emit light. As such, whereas OLEDs are called emissive because the produce their own light, LCDs are called transmissive for the opposite reason.

Keep in mind that some LCD displays use LEDs as their lighting source and are consequently called LEDs. Additionally, some LED LCD screens use “edge lighting” as opposed to a backlight, in which the LEDs are situated on the side.

And because they don’t use phosphors, LCDs aren’t plagued with burn-ins when an image is left on a screen for a long time. Instead, they may suffer from image persistence, but this is only temporary.

As to where you’ll find them, LCDs are commonly found in televisions and portable consumer devices like smartphones, smartwatches, and digital cameras.

OLED (Organic Light-Emitting-Diode)

As we just covered, OLEDs produce their own light and don’t require backlights, which allows them to be very thin.

What we didn’t cover was that this is done with organic materials that glow when introduced to an electric current, and that individual pixel can be turned off for darker blacks.

Additionally, because each individual pixel can act as an OLED, they come with large color variety and heightened contrast that produces high-resolution images, making them a crowd-favorite for televisions.
Curved Displays

Curved displays are gaining popularity because they improve immersion and add depth to whatever you’re watching. For instance, the curve makes the images appear to wrap around you, which functions to make you feel as if you’re seeing a wider image than a conventional display.

Flexible Displays

Flexible displays are similar to curved displays in the sense that they’re not exactly flat, but that’s about it. Whereas curved displays are just that — curved, flexible displays use malleable materials that can be reshaped into different configurations.

Due to their malleability, these displays are also pretty much shatterproof, which makes them an attractive option for future usage in technologies like smartphones and wearable devices.

E-Ink (Electronic Ink)

Widely used for eReaders like the Amazon Kindle, e-ink technology was created to replicate the way ink looks like on paper through a process called electrophoresis, which is a relatively new technology that uses clear fluid combined with black pigments and positively charged white pigments to create the lifelike ink display readers everywhere love.

Why do they love it? Because it produces high resolutions with sunlight readability, and very low power consumption due to the fact that eReaders utilizing e-ink only consume power when the ‘pages’ are being turned— the image is locked on the screen after the signal has been received, leading to longer battery life and less time charging.

As for the future, this display technology can expand beyond eReaders into:

Other mobile devices like tablets and smartphones
Electronic labels
Traffic signs

Transparent Displays

Transparent displays are—somewhat—here, but predominantly in what’s called the concept stage. We have them, but major commercial use is still to come.
When off, these displays are transparent; when on, they show images in full HD by combining LCD technology with new transparent OLED (TOLED) technology.

Haptic Touch Screens

A display that’ll someday be everywhere, haptic touchscreens are touchscreen displays that touch you right back, hence the ‘haptic’ title. These use tactile feedback in the form of low electrical currents to produce sensations that let us ‘feel’ buttons and textures on screens.

For example, Tanvas partnered with Bonobos, an apparel company, to produce an application that showed two pairs of pants — one cotton and one corduroy — that can be ‘rubbed’ to differentiate each fabric’s feel.

Final Thoughts

Just like the display technology of yesterday is vastly different than today’s, the display technology of today will be vastly different than tomorrow. Whether it comes in the form of transparent car windows or flexible eReaders, one thing is certain: display technology is still evolving and will continue to evolve.


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