LG Display has partnered with a Canadian tech start-up in a move that could fast-forward the South Korean manufacturer's plans to produce foldable smartphones. The non-exclusive agreement between the LG Corporation subsidiary and Ignis Innovation represents an effort to solve common issues with OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays.
Ignis claims that its tech resolves "material and device issues inherent in emissive displays" by combining software and hardware in an effort to prevent screen burn, spots and cloudy areas that can arise over time.
Rather than simply focusing on the backpanel behind an OLED display that manipulates the brightness of each pixel, Ignis' circuit technology analyses and corrects the pixels in real-time, which prevents inconsistencies within the currents from the backpanel's circuits. The technology represents 16 years of work for the Waterloo-based start-up.
While Ignis' patented tech could be applied to many of LG's electronic devices with OLED screens – such as laptops and TVs – the agreement could be influential in giving it an edge over its OLED-adopting rivals in the smartphone market.
Ignis's CEO, Peter Monsberger, talked up the partnership in a statement to MobileSyrup: "Our team is excited to have LG Display, a global leader and innovator when it comes to OLED displays, as a partner."
LG Display's CEO, Sang Beom Han, explained earlier in July that the company's future is dependent on making the switch from liquid-crystal panels (LCDs) to OLED displays. Han noted that it is "undeniable that flexible OLEDs are now the mega-trend in the mobile segment", while revealing that the manufacturer had already increased its investment in OLED technology.
LG's switch in focus follows reports that Samsung has been in discussion with Apple over providing OLED displays for the iPhone from 2018 onwards. However, the most intriguing aspect of LG's partnership with Ignis is the manufacturer's potential plans for a foldable smartphone that uses the start-up's OLED technology.
"In a couple of years you are going to be into a foldable smartphone, so you can open it up and it will be the size of a tablet, then you can fold it back up and it fits in your pocket," Monsberger told The Record, suggesting LG has major plans for the technology. "We are in the midst of all that."
While Samsung is reportedly developing a foldable OLED smartphone codenamed Project Valley (also known as the Galaxy X), LG has also presented foldable and rollable display prototypes in the past. Unlike LCD panels, OLED displays emit light without the need for a backlight – this in turn allows for the implementation of thinner screens that can be folded or rolled.