Imagine advanced computer technology like you would find in laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which you can fold up like paper into a pocket sized square. Sound far-fetched? Well how about the same kind of technology, but it can be rolled, like fabric, or a newspaper. It may sound pretty far out there in the way of tangible technology, but it is actually already in development in select areas! One of the biggest reasons that we have not yet seen much evidence of this exciting new technology is that the methods for creating such materials as these are difficult and limited, but these flexible gadgets have been in development for several years, and are beginning to surface and marketable devices which the public will soon be able to purchase.
The possibilities of this strange and exciting new technology are still being determined, and already have reached a staggering number. One of the most interesting concepts to many developers is the idea of computer devices made of fabric. This opens up a world of possibilities with wearable technology. Can you imagine having a device with internet capability which you can wear as easily as a shirt, or a hat? The space required for this kind of device would be incredibly minimal compared to current technology, which has already managed to become quite compact. Of course, this technology is not quite ready for public release, but developers conjecture that it will be within just a few years.
Electrofluidic Ink Contributes to Foldable Device Development
E-ink, as you may have seen advertised often for e-reader devices, is a development that began adding to foldable or rollable technology back in 2012, according to Science Daily. This technology works by the transfer of e-ink through electrofluidic imaging film. The important thing to take away from this e-ink development is that it will eventually lead to paper-thin screens made of durable plastic, which can be rolled and folded like paper. Developers say that at first, such technology will be in grayscale, because color will be a more difficult detail to work out with this technology, but that feasibly within 10-20 years, we could see high quality color images being displayed by this paper thin screen.
Today, the newest development in these flexible devices is a “source-gated-transistor” referred to as an SGT. This SGT technology can be applied to materials such as silicon and graphene, according to highlightpress.com, which makes them much more feasible for mass production than such devices were before. The lead researcher working on this project in the UK’s University of Surrey is Dr. Radu Sporea. He states that new and important characteristics that are necessary for technology which can be rolled are now a possibility with these SGT’s, and producing flexible devices will be much simpler and less costly than previously.
When Will We See It?
For now, such technology is still developed almost entirely in research labs, and unavailable for public purchase. That being said, there are many companies doing their best every day to produce devices closer and closer to this flexible end. We may see these rollable computer devices available for public purchase as soon as 2024!