Flexible Displays Open Mind-Bending Opportunities

Beaming images straight into the occipital lobe is still many years away, and might not happen in my lifetime. But what we're getting in the meantime is sweet enough to put the finest gadgets of 2008 to shame.

Say hello to the flexible, wearable digital screen, amigo. Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL  ) has been working with the U.S. Army for years to produce a wearable, low-power display that could convey complex battlefield information in tight spots where a bulky handheld trinket ain't good enough. Tomorrow, at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company is showing off an early prototype to the public.

If it's good enough for Uncle Sam, this technology should be good enough for the consumer market, too. Imagine strapping your Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone 5.0 to your wrist instead of slipping it in a pocket. Go to Sears (Nasdaq: SHLD  ) and buy a tent, and it'll come with a big-screen display printed on the ceiling. Why sleep under the stars when you can sleep under a DirecTV (NYSE: DTV  ) feed instead? And instead of changing clothes, you might tap a button on your Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) jacket to simply change the color and print -- or show a movie on your back. The shoe giant seems to like that sort of inventive thinking. The possibilities are endless.

All of that will take more than a few years, of course, but Universal Display and its partners are proving that their wild ideas are within reach with today's OLED technology. The prototype, manufactured by LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) and L-3 Display Systems (NYSE: LLL  ) , is a grainy, monochrome proof of concept, but the full-color and truly flexible versions are getting closer every day.

Don't say we didn't warn you, Fool. You don't want to miss this gravy train.

Further Foolishness:

Sears Holdings is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection, Universal Display is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick, and Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Universal Display, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Sorry, the occipital lobe technology is still under development, but you can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio in plain old text if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2009, at 1:54 AM, ikrolm wrote:

    Seeing as Apple, Nike, Sears and DirectTV haven´t said anything about this, it seems a little premature to include their stock tags.

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