Whether it is smartphones, wearables or televisions: In consumer electronics, printed electronics are increasingly changing the appearance and functionalities of solutions and products—for example in the form of flexible displays and control panels.
OLED displays, for instance, are already the standard here. They are used in smartphones and tablets as well as for TV screens. Thanks to higher contrast and better color brilliance, they enable a whole new level of picture quality and consume less energy.
The next stage are curved displays. The shape of mobile phones can thus be adapted even more to the human face, improving user comfort. Curved-display televisions offering a completely different viewing experience are already available.
Devices with hinged displays are expected to be launched on the market soon. As a result, the size of the display will no longer be limited by the dimensions of the device, which will significantly mitigate the current contrast between compactness and user experience.
Another application of printed electronics are electrophoretic displays. They are characterized by the combination of particularly low power consumption and high daylight suitability. Frequent fields of application are e-readers as well as smart price tags. Elsewhere, they act as secondary displays for the indication of important notifications and messages at any time, for example when the actual display is deactivated, while saving energy. First field studies for their use as digital timetables are underway in public transport.
More and more spectacular solutions are coming up in the area of wearables— clothes and accessories with integrated electronic functionality. These include, for example, special T-shirts that measure the heart rate during sports. Smart watches and fitness trackers go beyond that and record numerous further body data—and, thanks to the flexible OLED display, they can even be used as mini televisions at any time.
Washing machines and refrigerators are also about to undergo a major transformation. Ultra-thin touch-sensitive sensors and displays already today ensure that the increasingly smart functions and capabilities of these and other household appliances can be used comfortably and clearly.
Demand for printed electronic displays in smart device applications is forecast to increase from a nascent level at a year-on-year rate of over 100 percent across the 2016–21 period.