Sharp has created a flexible OLED panel that could be used in smartphone screens and a host of other applications.
The new panel can be freely bent not just during smartphone manufacturing but also by users. Sharp developed a prototype at its facility in Tenri, Nara Prefecture. The prototype has a 3.4-inch screen -- smaller than that of a typical smartphone -- and utilizes the company's IGZO (indium-gallium-zinc oxide) energy-saving panel technology.
The Osaka-based electronics company has previously developed curved LCD panels for vehicle-mounted equipment. It also anticipates demand for bendable OLED panels, which produce sharp images while consuming little power.
Sharp plans to pour 200 billion yen ($1.84 billion) into the OLED business over four years using money it will receive from Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, known as Foxconn, which has agreed to buy the struggling Japanese company. It is working to strengthen that business and is hurrying to develop proprietary technology with the aim of winning orders from smartphone makers such as Apple, in addition to cultivating various other applications.