What the Tech?! OLED

If you just figured out the difference between the curvy light bulbs and the old ones, let us introduce you to something completely new.

A reemerging style of lightweight light technology used to create digital displays. In long form, OLED is an “organic light-emitting diode,” and if you followed last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, you probably heard about it. OLED is the digital lighting style that has given way to bendable or curved screens. Remember Samsung’s Galaxy Round? (Probably not.) It was the first curved smartphone, created with an OLED display. LG followed with another curved phone, neither of which really took off. But at CES, LG announced a line of flexible televisions that curve theatrically with the touch of a button.

All of these gadgets are no doubt cool, but what’s the benefit of creating with OLED? It goes beyond literal flexibility; you can use OLED to create light-emitting clothing (like Philips did for the Black Eyed Peas) and transportable displays that EMTs, vets, and other on-site workers can use. OLED is so light that is can be incorporated into glass, which opens the door to a totally connected lifestyle, a la Minority Report. Corning, the glassware creator, created this video in 2011, showing a smart home in which everything is connected by technologies like OLED embedded in glass.

Though still in its infancy, OLED is already growing popular among hardware creators. Creators from Samsung to Philips to Corning believe that OLED’s flexibility will lead to more multifaceted and less breakable devices.