Rectangular screens are so square. That’s presumably why Sharp has announced a new technology called Free-Form Display that could allow screens to come in any space, and reduce bezel size to almost zero.
Usually, a lot of display circuitry sits in the bezel of a screen, which forces manufacturers to use very conventional shapes — rectangles, usually, but occasionally circles if they’re daring. But Sharp’s new solution spreads circuitry usually found at the edge across the whole display, allowing both very slim bezels and crazy shapes too. Sharp explains:
Conventional displays are rectangular because they require a minimal width for the bezel in order to accommodate the drive circuit, called the gate driver, around the perimeter of the screen’s display area. With the Free-Form Display, the gate driver’s function is dispersed throughout the pixels on the display area. This allows the bezel to be shrunk considerably, and it gives the freedom to design the LCD to match whatever shape the display area of the screen needs to be.
The company is showing off, for instance, a Free-Form display that could find its way into cars: a sleek dash screen that needs no cowling above it, but display everything in three simple circular areas. But the possibilities are endless: think wearables with more natural screen shapes, displays that blend in a little more around the house, or simply thin tablets with a screen that reaches right to the edge. Or maybe even a weirdly shaped smartphone, if someone is crazy enough to try it.
Software, of course, is typically designed for rectangular screens, so the bezel-free route seems most appealing — but to differentiate products, or to allow such displays to be used in more unconventional situations, it could just work. There’s currently no word on when or where we might first see the panels appear though, sadly. [Sharp via The Verge]