Futaba Corporation is a Japanese company that produces Vacuum Fluorescent Displays (VFDs) and other industrial and commercial components and modules. In October 2011 Futaba bought TDK's part in their PMOLED joint venture, TDK Micro Device Corporation, which is now a Futaba subsidiary.
Futaba develops and manufactures small PMOLED displays for consumer applications including flexible PMOLEDs.
The latest Futaba OLED news:
Kia announced a new electric car, the 2015 Soul EV. The vehicle has a 109 bhp engine and a 27 kWh L-ion battery that gives it a range of 93 miles. This environmental friendly car uses 23 kg of plant-based interior plastics (made from cellulose and sugar cane base).
In the instrument cluster, the Soul EV uses a 3.5" OLED display. It provides information on the energy flow, charging time, ECO driving level and energy economy. It also provides a three-stage alert for the Soul EV’s State of Charge (SOC) - so you can quickly determine when it's time for charging.
Huawei launched their TalkBand B1 smart wearable device in February, made it available in China, but now it's finally coming to Europe too - Amazon.co.uk lists it for £99 and says it will ship on June 30. Hopefully it will launch in the US soon.
The TalkBand has a curved (flexible) 1.4" 128x16 PMOLED display, made by Futaba. This is Futaba's film OLED, and it's the first device to actually adopt these panels. It's great to finally see flexible PMOLEDs on the market. TDK Micro (bought by Futaba) has been showing flexible PMOLEDs since 2010, and it took them almost four years to actually bring those to market.
Last month Huawei unveiled their TalkBand B1 smart wearable device. It was reported that the display is a 1.4" white flexible (curved) OLED. It wasn't clear who the maker of this display was, and whether it is actually flexible.
Now Huawei posted the full specification of the TalkBand, and it turns out that the display is indeed a curved OLED. It is a 1.4" 128x16 PMOLED panel made by Futaba. This is Futaba's film OLED, and it's probably the first device to use those curved (flexible) panels. Towards the end of 2013, Futaba indeed said they finished development of those panels. In any case, Huawei reveals that the panel is only 0.3 mm thick and it weighs only 1 gram.
Update: just after posting my article, Samsung annonced the Gear Fit, a fitness band with a 1.84" Super AMOLED panel. Perhaps my reasoning was all wrong, and high-resolution, color displays may take over this new market as well.
Passive Matrix OLEDs (PMOLEDs) use a simple driver, which restricts the resolution and efficiency of the display, but also enables it to be produced easily and relatively on the cheap. The first OLED displays on the market (in 1998) were PMOLED, made by Pioneer, used in car audio systems.
The PMOLED market grew in the past, up until 2006. Back then, the main application for those displays was the sub-display on clamshell phones. But then Apple launched the iPhone, and since then the clamshell design lost its popularity very quickly - and the PMOLED market is in decline ever since.
Update: Futaba asked me to remove the roadmap from OLED-Info...
Futaba is a small OLED producer, mainly making PMOLED panels (including transparent ones) and developing new OLED technologies. Back in October 2011 Futaba bought out TDK's part in their joint OLED company, which is now a subsidiary of Futaba. The company was kind enough to send us their OLED roadmap for the next few years (you can compare it to Futaba's previous roadmap released in 2012).
Futaba developed curved formable (flexible) PMOLEDs which they call film OLEDs. These are formable panels that can be placed on curved surfaces - but they cannot be flexed or bent by the device user. The company showed a 3.5" (256x64) full-color flexible PMOLED prototype at CEATEC 2012. Some of the panels displayed since were touch (capacitive) ones. One of the technology used in film OLEDs is the company's solvent-free liquid desiccant, the OLEDry-S.
Back in December 2012, rumors started to circulate about an upcoming Apple smartwatch called the iWatch. At first it was reported that Apple will use a 1.5" touch PMOLED made by RitDisplay. Later on in 2013 it was reported that Apple will use 1.5" PMOLEDs produced by Foxconn. Today Korea's Chosun Ilbo claims that Apple decided to use a plastic flexible OLED panel.
According to the reports, Apple is developing three models, with 1.3", 1.4" and 1.5" displays. They already produced a prototype 1.5" device. Chosun is quoting "industry sources" in their short article.
It turns out that Futaba's booth at SID 2013 was quite interesting. The company showed off their transparent and flexible PMOLED panels, and they also show the new OLEDry-S desiccant. Check out this nice video tour of their booth:
The first item they show is the Lenovo S-800 that uses Futaba's 40% transmissive 2.4" QVGA (240x320) PMOLED panel. The S-800 was unveiled towards the end of 2010, and sadly it seems that it's the only device to use Futaba's transparent OLEDs.
4D Systems (an Australian R&D company that supplies OLED displays) recently started to ship their first transparent OLED display, the uTOLED-20. Here's my hands-on review of this great little OLED panel.
A couple of days ago we reported about Futaba's 3.5" (256x64) flexible PMOLED prototype shown at CEATEC 2012 in Japan. It turns out that Futaba also demonstrated a smaller one at 1.3" (128x128). Bother are very thin at 0.22 mm. here's a nice video showing these prototypes and some more OLED displays from Futaba:
Futaba unveiled a new 3.5" (256x64) full-color flexible PMOLED prototype. The new prototype is thin (0.22 mm thick - thinner than Futaba's current 0.29 mm thin panels) and features 100 cd/m2 brightness.
This seems to be quite similar to the old flexible OLED panel shown at CEATEC 2010 by TDK Micro (now owned by Futaba), but it's quite a bit thinner (back in 2010 the panel was 3 mm thick). The old panel was made on a resin substrate and used a white emitter with color filters. We do not know the technology used in the new panel.