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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Japan’s Flexible Display Technologies

[From May Issue 2011]

Left Photo: Geo-Cosmos / Right Photo: SHiPLA

 

With giant video display monitors in Shibuya, Flat Screen TVs in many storefronts and the proliferation of high-resolution cell phone cameras, daily life in Japan is replete with continuous imagery. And advanced Japanese technology plays an essential role in making all of this possible.

Located in Odaiba, Tokyo, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) will be newly exhibiting a giant, spherical video monitor. Named Geo-Cosmos, it has a diameter of approximately 6 meters and will be suspended from the ceiling, hanging from the sixth to the first floor. On it will be shown images of the earth taken from outer space as well as various other data collected in observation of our planet.

“This display was born from Director and astronaut MOHRI Mamoru’s idea,” explains Operational Division member JINGU Rie. “Our director says that he was moved when he saw Earth shining out there in dark space and remarked to himself that, ‘There are living beings there.’ His desire was then to ‘share images of the earth as seen from outer space’” she says.

Weighing roughly 14 tons, Geo-Cosmos is made mainly of aluminum. Its surface is covered by 10,362 organic electroluminescent (OEL) tiles, each measuring 96 mm squared and placed just 3 mm apart. Its total resolution is more than 10 million pixels.

“Upon Geo-Cosmos viewers can see that the earth is boundless. We will also show simulated images of the planet’s changes due to global-warming. We hope people will become more aware of earth’s current reality and think more seriously about its future,” says Jingu.

In the departure area of Osaka’s Kansai International Airport there is another large video display monitor measuring 3 meters long by 4 meters high. With a thickness of only 1 mm, this film-type monitor is unidirectional, and can be placed in many different positions, such as being wrapped around a pillar as a digital sign board. Furthermore, it is easily portable.

The company that developed SHiPLA, the Shinoda Plasma Co., Ltd., is located in Kobe’s Hyogo Prefecture. To do so, they lined 1 mm glass tubing with electrode-embedded film through which emanate red, blue and green colors, creating an extremely thin display surface. “We came up with this idea in 1998 and acquired the basic technology in 2003, but it was difficult to make tubularly-even structure,” explains Director ISHIMOTO Manabu.

“Since there has never before been a way to display images on a bendable surface, people are in awe when they first see it,” he says. “People who have seen our flexible display remark that, ‘It looks as though the images are being displayed from within a transparent pillar.’”

While Geo-Cosmos uses small, flat tiles, SHiPLA’s uses a shaved panel to realize its flexible display. So, in shapeable display monitors you not only find high-tech gadgetry, but also an infusion of the technician’s spirit. 

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
Shinoda Plasma Co., Ltd.

Text: SAZAKI Ryo


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