Low-cost flexible pixel display unveiled by UK inventor
UK-based hardware researcher Andrew Fentem has created Flick Pixels, a process that he describes as a way of turning almost any material into an active display.
The technology is made possible through the use of flexible ultra-thin magnetic actuators that can be applied to the media. This is then programmed to create a magnetic field that 'flips' the pixel and illuminates the display. As it doesn't use conventional electromagnets to flip the pixels, the movements are achieved without a complex control system and can be produced at a much lower cost than large-scale LED displays.
"Many engineers work under the classic assumption that the future is going to be white and shiny and invisible. I don't think that's going to be the case," explains Fentem. "The invention came out of setting a hard constraint that whatever it was had to be printable: current bulky flip-dot technology costs around $1 (£0.64) per pixel. This is much cheaper to manufacture [at] around $0.10 (six pence) per pixel, which is very competitive with LEDs and potentially resurrects an obsolete technology."
The project has potential for commercial and retail applications ranging from tactile wallpaper to social media displays. Flip Pixels has also garnered attention from the Large Area Electronics catapult centre at Cambridge University due to the technology's customisable and potentially printable nature.