Transparent OLED Enters Brand New Territory

Transparent OLED is pioneering into Europe after appearing at this month’s International Motor Show (IAA) 2021 in Munich, Germany. Visitors to the show were able to get up close with LG Display’s 55-inch Transparent OLEDs, and see for themselves how this unprecedented technology is opening up the world of mobility by replacing windows on public transport and beyond.

As the world’s only company capable of making large-size Transparent OLED displays, LG Display has exciting plans to create new products and markets that never existed before. And the Transparent OLED market is expected to grow to around 10 trillion won (US$8.5 billion) in the next decade, according to Cho Min-woo, head of LG Display’s Transparent OLED business.

That forecast is based on a joint assessment with a global consulting firm, as they also found that more than 70% of Transparent OLED’s current applications are for signage in stores and advertisements. LG Display is just “in the process of sowing seeds,” Cho says, as the company looks to the uncharted territories of transportation and architecture – segments that could be transformed by Transparent OLEDs.

Why Transparent OLED?

Transparent OLED displays have the unmatched advantage of both being able to deliver vivid images and information while still offering the openness of glass.

Compared to conventional LCDs that can only reach 10% transparency and are susceptible to dust and dirt getting in behind the screen, OLEDs are protected from this risk and can get to 40% while still showing vivid image quality in HD. Only OLED technology can achieve the level of transparency needed because of its self-emissive nature, meaning there is no need for a backlight unit and Transparent OLED panels can be thin just like glass.

“Transparent OLEDs are creating new values completely beyond the limits of the display area,” insists Cho.

IAA 2021 marks another new beginning

LG Display took the opportunity of IAA 2021 to introduce Transparent OLEDs for rail carriages to the European market for the first time. The company can do so confidently after witnessing their success on subways in China since last summer and then more recently on tourist trains in Japan.

Trains, as well as subways, generally have limited spots to display information – the largest unused space would be the carriage windows. By using Transparent OLEDs where ordinary glass had been, the idea is that these windows come to life with notifications, news, entertainment, advertisements, and so on. On overground trains, you can be looking at passing scenery while still getting useful information regarding your journey or local attractions and landscapes as they come into view.

“It provides additional information and convenience while maintaining the natural openness of the window. Thanks to the characteristics of Transparent OLEDs, we have used areas that no one has used before. Their strength is the possibility of newly defining space,” Cho explains.

Another factor is the glass itself. LG Display showcased its Transparent OLED reinforced by Insulated Glass Unit (IGU) technology to provide the display with the strength to handle impacts and vibration. The company also collaborated with leading smart glass technology company Gauzy to present another usage of Transparent OLED by utilizing Gauzy’s Suspended Particle Device (SPD) Smart Glass technology – enabling high contrast ratios and thereby making OLED even more adaptable to changing light conditions.

With LG Display also discussing the introduction of Transparent OLEDs on tourist buses, self-driving cars, and ships, it’s clear that the technology is ready to reshape the mobility market and support the tourism industry’s post-pandemic recovery by helping to upgrade related infrastructure.

Endless Transparent OLED applications

LG Display’s vision of a future lifestyle at CES 2021 demonstrated how you could comfortably watch a movie at home on a Transparent OLED, as well as relying on the same technology on public transport. Another great recent example of a public space application is this trendy store in Seoul.

More and more, companies are showing interest in collaborating with LG Display on this technology, confirming a bright future for Transparent OLEDs. For instance, South Korean tech giant Kakao Corp is harnessing the potential of Transparent OLEDs for everything from parking convenience to practicing your golf swing.

Ultimately, Cho sees Transparent OLEDs penetrating so far into our lives that you will be able to purchase transparent displays at places that sell wallpaper, also extending into the field of building materials. “In other words, transparent displays can be used in markets where there is glass,” he concludes.

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