IDTechEx research: The race for flexible and wearable phones
Juni 06, 2014 Dr Peter Harrop
Mobile phones and associated wearable electronics are now part of what is called the Internet of People. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a term that describes the massively connected world ahead of us. Its main elements are the Internet of People (IoP) and the Internet of Things (IoT), both of which are subjects of new IDTechEx reports Internet of People: Technology 2015-2025 and Internet of Things (IoT): Business Opportunities 2015-2025.
Definition of IoT vs IoP and intermediate Internet-protocol directly-connected products
The IoP report is unique in being up-to-date and very thorough in examining the future technologies involved. That includes hardware to make the devices wearable, flexible, tightly rollable and foldable such as printed and thin film electronics. It includes technology that will make the devices invisible in the form of body implants, woven fibers and transparent electronics. Add to that the technology that helps us to escape from recharging and replacing batteries, such as new multi-mode energy harvesting.
Evolution of the internet
The new personal devices will often have very flexible displays, some tightly rolled into a conventional phone body. When pulled out, these screens will gather useful amounts of electricity from the sun as the user enjoys the large screen created with its haptic (feel what you do) keyboard. Indeed even flexible batteries have been demonstrated recently. Incorporating screens that unroll will be easier now the public has accepted larger phones because these can more easily accommodate roll-out displays. Samsung has said that it will launch phones with such screens. The screens pull out, click into place then snap in for storage.
Achieving this poses formidable hardware challenges calling for printed organic light-emitting diode displays (OLEDs) and other printed electronics including alternatives to indium tin oxide (ITO) transparent electrodes, where printed silver nanowires and fine metal patterning are strong candidates. Flexible barrier layers are also needed. See the IDTechEx reports, Printed, Organic & Flexible Electronics: Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2013-2023 and Barrier Films for Flexible Electronics 2013-2023: Needs, Players, Opportunities.
To get reasonable battery charging from the sun, new tightly-rollable printed photovoltaics PV is being developed including fully organic photovoltaics with about 10% efficiency. See the IDTechEx reports, Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players and Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC/DSC) 2013-2023: Technologies, Markets, Players.
Those designing "must have" phone hardware will jump at flexible, foldable and tightly rollable technology - a dream ticket for the creative designer. Competitive advantage beckons.