LG plans to unveil a smartphone with a rollable display early next year, allowing you to transform the device from a phone to a tablet when you need a little more screen space.

But the company may not be stopping with smartphones.

LG also recently applied for a patent on a rollable display system that could be used in laptops or tablets. For example, a notebook with a 13.3 inch screen could become a 17 inch laptop when the display is unrolled.

The patent describes a display panel that uses a flexible substrate instead of glass, allowing for the screen to be folded or rolled. In this case, it would be wound around a cylindrical drum or roller, with a portion of the display hidden inside the device when you’re not using it. But when unrolled, it extends the display area in a way that should give you a larger display without any creases or lines separating sections… because it’s all a single display.

LG also notes that in order for the rollable display to be held stay firmly in an upright position, the display panel needs to be thin and light, and it should be bent into an “arc shape so that the rollable display is self-standing” and can “be maintained in an unfolded state without an additional structure” and the patent outlines several possible methods for achieving this.

Some possible laptop/tablet systems described in the application include a device that has a detachable keyboard, or one that has a rollable keyboard as well as a rollable display.

Keep in mind that a LG filing patent application does not mean that the company plans to actually produce a laptop with a rollable display, and this application doesn’t provide all the details for the other technical challenges that would be involved in making a laptop capable of working with such a display.

But it does look like someone at LG is at least considering this application of flexible display technology.

via @Gadgetsdata

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4 Comments

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  1. The curious thing is the pictures show the keyboard stretched in width along with the screen too! Are you sure its not just two form-factors of the same mechanism and you’d like to believe it was changing screen size? – it does seems hard to change both width AND height just by rolling.

    1. It’s not a matter of interpretation, the patent clearly describes that it is indeed a rollable screen.

  2. Sounds like an interesting idea, but how durable is it? My kids would probably break it on the first day.

  3. A rollable display could be useful in an UMPC, but it would still have to look like a clamshell laptop with a 180+ degree hinge to be something I’d consider.
    I’m imagining a device that’s this 9.5″ x 4.5″ rectangle when fully compacted, but then you can open the lid and pull the screen up so the display has a 16×9″ aspect ratio.
    But if anyone ever makes this, there will probably be something like an unfortunate three models and then the whole industry will just go back to copying the Macbook pro chassis again.