As technology pushes forward into the wearable realm, the need for moveable tech becomes more and more important. Flexible electronics provide an easier way to adapt to surroundings while also adjusting based on movement. This is a very young market, yet the potential is there. In fact, the industry is expected to grow around 67% between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2020.
A Flexible Electronics Boom in Asia Pacific
Flexible electronics are growing in popularity throughout the world. However, a major component of flexible technology stems from OLED panels. Due to the large number of OLED manufacturers within Asia Pacific, the region has proven to be the epicenter of the growing market. Many of the top TV manufacturers are located here, including LG and Samsung. These two industry giants actually make the glass for several of the top secondary manufacturers for both television and mobile phones. In fact, Samsung has in the past served as a major manufacturer for Apple (a direct competitor in the mobile phone and tablet markets).
From Curved to Flexible
The first major sign to the potential in flexible electronics occurred when tech companies started to release curved OLED displays. Some of these products prove to be more test and display at convention centers then realistic consumer products, but a handful of devices have made the way into the pockets and entertainment centers of shoppers around the world. Some devices, such as curved television screens and smartphones (more notably the Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge). With the ability to design a curved screen, it demonstrated the potential of creating not just permanently molded screens, but flexible screens.
Research Universities Getting On Board
Flexible technology has more potential than just in the consumer electronics world. It may prove extremely valuable in the medical communities as well (especially as computer chips and processors grow smaller). Purdue University, working with Western Michigan University and Indiana University School of Medicine came together in order to receive a contract from NextFlex, the largest flexible hybrid electronics manufacturer in the United States.
Other universities that have received contracts with NextFlex in order to test out potential real world uses for flexible technology includes California Polytechnic State University, Palo Alto Research Center (in connection with University of California at San Diego) and Binghamton University (which is working with GE Global Research, Infinite Corridor, Rochester Institute of Technology and several other manufacturers).