Toshiba flexes its LCD might with new display

The flat world of traditional LCD (liquid crystal display) panels had a curve thrown its way Tuesday when Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc. announced a flexible LCD at the Society for Information Display show in Boston.

The new display, which measures 8.4 inches (21.33 centimeters) diagonally and offers an active matrix TFT (thin film transistor) SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array) screen, can be flexed and bent, even into a curve with a radius of curvature of as much as 7.9 inches, Toshiba said. The display is also thin, under .16 inches thick, and light, weighing less than 20 grams, the company said.

Toshiba created the display by attaching an extremely thin layer of glass to a flexible plastic sheet, the company said. The flexible display is another step on the company's path towards a foldable display, according to Toshiba.

The demonstration of the new display at the conference has "sparked a lot of interest," said Steven Vrablik, business development director for the LCDs, display devices and components business unit with Toshiba America. Attendees have mentioned 360-degree displays, instrument panels for cars and other applications of the technology, he said.

These comments have caused him to realize that "maybe there's a lot of (applications) we hadn't thought of," he said.

Vrablik and the rest of Toshiba will likely have enough time to think of other applications, though, as the company said it doesn't expect to offer the display for commercial availability until after the end of fiscal year 2004.

"This is a (research and development) statement," he said.

The Society for Information Display show runs through Friday in Boston.

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Sam Costello

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