February 25, 2009 Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center (FDC) aren’t resting on their laurels with the first prototype of their affordable, flexible electronic displays announced late last year - now they’ve added touchscreen capabilities to the already impressive flexible display with support for real-time user input by either stylus pen or by touch.

The creation of the world’s first touchscreen active matrix display on a flexible, glass-free substrate by the FDC was achieved in collaboration its partners E Ink Corporation and DuPont Teijin Films by combining the FDC’s low-temperature thin film transistor technology, DuPont Teijin Films' high-performance TeonexR polyethylene napthalate (PEN) films and E Ink's VizplexTM-ink laminate to form active matrix electrophoretic (electronic paper) displays. The touchscreen capability is enabled by integrating a low-power display controller that was co-developed by E Ink and Epson and demonstrated as part of E Ink's developer's kit.

As Dr. Michael McCreary, VP of Research and Advanced Development at E Ink points out, “Pen and touch input has become the preferred user interface in many portable electronic devices. The ability to incorporate the flexible touch feature into the E Ink Vizplex display will enable a host of new applications that require shatterproof displays." The display also offers power saving advantages over traditional displays as it consumes power only when the electronic paper is activated and, once sketched on, the information can be stored or sent wirelessly before erasing. The FDC see applications for the technology to include allowing soldiers, and ultimately other users, to input, store or transmit real-time data from remote locations using ultra low-power displays that are rugged, sunlight readable, lightweight and thin. Check out the video demonstration of the new touchscreen below.

The display technology field is a competitive one with breakthroughs being announced at an astonishing rate. It’s inevitable that some of the new technologies will fall by the wayside, but with the flexible electronic displays developed by the FDC offering a range of advantages such as power conservation, flexibility and importantly affordability it’s hard to see the technology not finding its way into a wide range of consumer devices – adding touchscreen capabilities just sweetens the deal even more.

Daren Quick

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    About the Author

    Darren Quick

    Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.

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