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China technology

A Chinese company makes an ultra-thin, bendable TV screen that works like a sticker

The flexible displays are attached to a small external power supply than can be recharged

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 9:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 10:28am

The Fifa World Cup in Russia saw the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) used for the first time in a final to award France a 38th-minute penalty. But this is not the only innovation to emerge from the worldwide event, as Shenzhen-based ultra-thin flexible display maker Royole also proved that watching soccer games on goods such as hats and clothes is now a reality.

The Chinese company arranged for several spectators at the 2018 final between France and Croatia on Sunday to wear top hats equipped with its flexible display broadcasting the soccer final live. The flexible sensor technology incorporates a high-definition 2K resolution bended display which streams content from a user’s mobile phone or tablet.

Royole has also developed T-shirts embedded with its flexible displays, which means you can now watch TV on peoples’ clothes or use them as walking advertising billboards. Washing the clothes is not a problem as the displays and related circuitry can be easily removed from the T-shirts and top hats before cleaning, said the company.

Flexible displays are seen by many as one of the key future trends for mobile electronics, with a number of top smartphone makers including South Korea’s Samsung believed to be readying the launch of flexible displays that will allow for the commercial production of “foldable” smartphones in the near future.

Future phones: foldable like a napkin, with up to nine cameras and able to charge over thin air

The tricked-out T-shirts and top hats are not cheap though, costing 5,888 yuan (US$882) each or 8,888 yuan for a combo deal, according to Royole’s website. The items are also on limited offer only and won’t be shipped until November.

The flexible displays are attached to a small external power supply than can be recharged multiple times, with a usage time of about 10 hours supported by a 10,000 mAh (milliampere hour) power bank, said Jason Fan, a vice-president of Royole.

“The display embedded on hats and clothes is light, thin, soft and rich in colour, making it good for daily wear,” said Fan, adding that it can be applied to a wider range of uses, such as intelligent transport, smart homes and robotic products.

Royole, a Chinese unicorn valued at more than US$3 billion after raising US$800 million in its fourth and biggest round of funding from a group of heavyweight investors, was founded in August 2012 in Silicon Valley, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. In 2014, it released the world’s thinnest 0.01mm full-colour bendable and rollable screen.

The company, founded by chief executive Bill Liu Zihong, began operations at its 1.1-million-square-foot production campus in Shenzhen in early June this year. The plant will mass produce its fully flexible displays, which can be bent, folded or curled, for commercial use.