One particularly knotty problem for wearables is the question of how to make a useful display. Most companies follow the same model that has been used for wristwatches for more than 100 years; take a rigid display and attach it to a flexible band so that it can be strapped to the wrist of the wearer. But imagine what you could do with a display that could be bent back and forth, wrapping around a wrist or laying flat on a table?
That’s the vision of Polyera, a company that has created Polyera Digital Fabric Technology. The important detail about their approach is that they are able to create an active matrix backplane using thin-film transistor technology (TFT). This provides the switches needed to turn pixels on and off, and can — in theory — be used with a variety of display technologies. According to the company website, the technology works with bi-stable e-ink displays as well as color emissive OLED displays.
The company has announced its first product using this new display technology: the Wove. An Android-powered wristband, the device will have a 1040 by 200 pixel grayscale display with multi-point capacitive touch input and Bluetooth 4.0. It will also have motion sensors. There is limited information about the programs that will run on the device, but at present they appear to be focused on communication tasks in partnership with a smartphone. The company expects to ship the product in 2016, and could be the basis for an exciting new platform for wearable applications. In any case, it should serve as a proving ground for this new flexible display technology.