It could be said that 2019 marked the beginning of the foldable device category. Apple has a series of patents on this emerging segment of the market and a new one was revealed earlier today showing that Apple may consider using micro-LED displays for a future foldable device.
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold officially launched in Korea yesterday and is coming to the U.S later this month. Huawei’s Mate X foldable smartphone, though delayed, should hit the market before Christmas in China and perhaps Europe.
Also this week it was rumored that Wintel is developing foldable notebook & device standards for hardware OEMs, Paving the way for a new wave of Products. Although it’s a rumor, it’s not much a stretch considering that Intel’s Project Athena is gaining steam and Microsoft continues to hammer out patents for foldable devices and hinge mechanisms for foldable devices. Another one surfaced in June 2019.
Earlier this year Lenovo pleasantly surprised the market with a workable prototype of a foldable mini-notebook. Techland was buzzed about the concept. The size of the device makes you think of a folding iPad Pro; something that we wrote about before the mainstream press ran with the idea.
Joshua D. Newman, Intel’s general manager of mobile innovation and vice president of the company’s Client Computing Group stated earlier this year that the difficulty surrounding foldable notebooks means it will take ‘at least some two years’ before foldable laptops reach consumers.”
Part of the problem is that the folding technology itself isn’t as sound as the industry would like to see it. One company working on providing a superior folding display solution is Germany’s LPKF Laser & Electronics.
In May, LPKF introduced Laser Induced Deep Etching (LIDE) technology at this year’s ‘Dis-play Week’ trade show in San Jose, California. The company is going to market the product as ‘Spring Glass.’
A report on Spring Glass published yesterday stated that there’s a high chance that this technology will be used for UTG (Ultra-Thin Glass) foldable Smartphones that will be released next year.
So what is Spring Glass? It’s a technology that shoots a laser at foldable glass to make it elastic but does not change any other property of glass. Currently foldable panel manufacturers are testing this technology out to see if it lives up to the hype.
The laser is the key to this technology. Because glass is hard and stiff, it can easily be broken or cracked from physical impact unlike transparent PI (Polyimide). Spring glass technology can supplement such weakness of a cover glass. When a laser is shot at the part of a foldable Smartphone where it is to bend, the glass becomes elastic like rubber. More