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article imageOp-Ed: Could the future of newspapers include AMOLED technology?

By David Silverberg     Feb 18, 2011 in Technology
Paper and ink? That's yesterday's newspapers. But tomorrow's news publications could rely on flexible ink technology, such as AMOLED developed by Samsung.
Last month, the tech world got a glimpse of where flexible screen technology is headed: Samsung demonstrated its Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED), a major upgrade from LED and LCD screens you might be enjoying on your smartphone or TV right now. It’s even a step above OLED, a product Sony has been promoting for awhile.
As you can tell by the video, the AMOLED technology is incredible: a 4.5 inch AMOLED display is less than 0.3 mm thick with a 480×800 resolution. Tech blog Singularity Hub explains the engineering behind the innovation: “Unlike LCDs and LEDs, the light producing components in AMOLEDs are organic, non-crystalline (read: flexible) films that are sandwiched between a transparent anode and cathode layer. Each resulting pixel is in series with its own thin film transistor, a switch that actively controls the electrical current delivered based on the required brightness of that pixel.”
Essentially, the displays are sharp, vivid and flexible. You could wrap them around curved surfaces or attach them to T-shirts. The image on the screen curves with the screen and doesn’t lose any of its sharpness.
So we’ll likely see AMOLED on smartphones, retail window displays, entertainment and more. But what about media? Why couldn’t newspapers take advantage of this flexible technology?
Imagine the advantages: with a flexible screen, a “digital newspaper” could also be rolled up and delivered to you, like ordering an Amazon Kindle. No longer will major costs go towards paper and ink, but instead AMOLED screens could deliver the news every day, no new device needed. Just like the News Corp’s The Daily, users can pay a certain weekly or annual fee to get the latest news via these flexible displays.
And don’t think these AMOLED newspapers would be delicate. Samsung touts the tech’s toughness in a video, which supposedly shows AMOLED screens withstanding hammer attacks and Europop songs. At such thinness and lightness (0.29g), AMOLED could give readers a very mobile way to consume news. And just imagine how eye-popping videos and photos and comic strips would look on these high-res screens.
Any new technology will be expensive, and right now AMOLED’s biggest challenge is getting over the high-cost hump. Some speculate that’s why AMOLED hasn’t truly taken off, despite finding a home with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab and the upcoming Nokia E7. To apply AMOLED to newspapers…that’s a challenge for more than just Samsung and other AMOLED creators, such as Sony. News publishers will have to radically rethink their distribution process; jobs would be slashed in paper mills and supply chains across the world; and writers would have to take an e-ink page from News Corp and approach journalism with a decidedly digital focus.
What kind of world would we live if newspapers and magazines came on AMOLED screens? Is this a technology you would embrace or is it just a bit too sci-fi for you?
For more information on Web, technology and business trends affecting media, visit our sister site Future of Media.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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