Mobile Devices

September 16, 2013

PlasticLogic to Create Second Screen Display for popSLATE

As part of an exclusive agreement, PlasticLogic will develop second screen displays for popSLATE designed to go on the backs of cases for the iPhone 5 and 5S. The always-on display can be configured to behave like a device ‘skin’ that can change the appearance of wallpaper-like displays or show information.

The display is made from a thin plastic film developed by Cambridge, U.K.-based PlasticLogic. Millions of transistors are embedded into these plastic sheets using a process that is much lower in temperature than the boiling point of water.

PlasticLogic develops screens that range in size from 1.5 inches to 15.4 inches. The thickness of sheets is anywhere from about 700 micrometers to 900 micrometers in thickness. Refresh rates are just under 900 ms. By comparison, a computer monitor refreshes at 60 or 120 Hz, or about 70-140 times faster.

Color is not available on these displays (it may be available in 2014), but they will show anywhere from four to 16 levels of gray. These are not touchscreens, but they read settings off the phone’s accelerometer to detect tapping motions.

The display for the popSLATE can be used for always-on apps like wallpaper, calendars and clocks, notes, readers, scores from games and maps. It gets energy from the lightning power port, but does not consume a significant amount of power. The display also shows up well in sunlight and is laminated to protect it. They are currently available for $129.

The weight of the popSLATE case is 2.64 ounces, about two-thirds of the weight of the 3.95 ounce iPhone 5, so it may feel a bit bulky.

The popSLATE case in its current form has many useful applications. One great idea for an app would be to make a secondary phone display that could be used as a backup when the main display is badly cracked. You would have to hit the on-screen keys harder, but it’s conceivable that it could still work.

As for the future implications of plastic for displays, PlasticLogic is not the only entity developing thin plastic displays, but its technology is still pretty impressive. If the company can make a display that performs as fast as a regular monitor, it would change the video display market overnight.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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