Title:
FLEXIBLE DISPLAY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flexible display including a container, a flexible panel and at least a supporting element is provided. The flexible panel is connected to the container such that the flexible panel can be rolled up inside the container. The supporting element has a shape-remembering characteristic and is disposed in or on the flexible panel. The supporting element can also be rolled up along with the flexible panel inside the container. When the flexible panel is spread out from the container, the supporting element supports the flexible panel and maintains the flexible panel in a spread-out state.



Inventors:
Wu, Po-sheng (Taipei County, TW)
Chen, Ming-daw (Hsinchu City, TW)
Application Number:
11/458442
Publication Date:
10/18/2007
Filing Date:
07/19/2006
Assignee:
INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (Hsinchu, TW)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D75/00
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Primary Examiner:
MILLER, WILLIAM L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
J C PATENTS (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flexible display, comprising: a container; a flexible panel, connected to the container suitable for being rolled up inside the container; and at least a supporting element having a shape-remembering characteristic disposed in or on the flexible panel and suitable for being rolled up inside the container along with the flexible panel, wherein, when the flexible panel is spread out from the container, the supporting element supports the flexible panel and keeps the flexible panel in the spread-out state.

2. The flexible display of claim 1, wherein the flexible panel is rolled up into the container manually, semi-automatically or automatically.

3. The flexible display of claim 1, wherein the container has a support frame for erecting the flexible panel spread out.

4. The flexible display of claim 1, wherein the supporting element is a supporting strip disposed on the surface of the flexible panel.

5. The flexible display of claim 4, wherein the supporting element has an arc-shaped, U-shaped or a V-shaped cross-section.

6. The flexible display of claim 1, wherein the supporting element is a supporting layer disposed on the surface of the flexible panel.

7. The flexible display of claim 6, wherein the supporting element has an arc-shaped cross-section.

8. The flexible display of claim 1, wherein the flexible panel comprises a plurality of stacked layers and the supporting element is made out of one of the stacked layers.

9. The flexible display of claim 8, wherein the supporting element has an arc-shaped cross-section.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the priority benefit of Taiwan application serial no. 95113733, filed on Apr. 18, 2006. All disclosure of the Taiwan application is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a display, and more particularly, to a flexible display.

2. Description of Related Art

With the rapid development of image display technologies, computer displays have changed gradually from the earlier cathode ray tubes (CRT) to the liquid crystal displays (LCD) in current times. Because the liquid crystal panel of a liquid crystal display comprises a plurality of structurally fragile glass substrates, a metallic L frame is needed to protect the glass substrates against damages by external forces. Hence, the shape of the liquid crystal panel is fixed and attempt at reducing the thickness of a liquid crystal panel is met with some difficulty.

Besides the application of liquid crystal display techniques in computer displays, the development of the flexible display is also fast. Because the panel of a flexible display is fabricated using a flexible substrate, the flexible panel can be folded back into a container for housing the flexible display or rolled up into a container when the flexible panel is not in use. When the flexible panel is needed to display optical images, it can be taken out from the container and put on a desk.

Unlike a liquid crystal display having shape and size limitation, the flexible display has much greater flexibility of shape and size. However, using the flexible panel of a flexible display is sometimes inconvenient because the flexible panel has no fixed configuration.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, at least one objective of the present invention is to provide a flexible display that can be used more conveniently.

To achieve these and other advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, the invention provides a flexible display. The flexible display includes a container, a flexible panel and at least a supporting element. The flexible panel is connected to the container such that the flexible panel can be rolled up inside the container. The supporting element has a shape-remembering characteristic and is disposed in or on the flexible panel. The supporting element can also be rolled up along with the flexible panel inside the container. When the flexible panel is spread out from the container, the supporting element supports the flexible panel and maintains the flexible panel in a spread-out state.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing container is a manual-operated container, a semi-automatic container or a fully automatic container.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing container has a support frame for erecting the flexible panel spread out.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing supporting element is a supporting strip disposed on the surface of the flexible panel.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing supporting element has an arc-shaped, a U-shaped or a V-shaped cross-section.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing supporting element is a supporting layer disposed on the surface of the flexible panel.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing supporting element has an arc-shaped cross-section.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing flexible panel includes a plurality of stacked layers and the supporting element is one of the stacked layers.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the foregoing supporting element has an arc-shaped cross-section.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary, and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the invention, and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a flexible display according to a first embodiment of the present invention showing the flexible panel thereof in a spread-out state.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the flexible display shown in FIG. 1 showing the flexible panel thereof in a retracted state.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible display along line I-I in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible display along line II-II in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the present preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers are used in the drawings and the description to refer to the same or like parts.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a flexible display according to a first embodiment of the present invention showing the flexible panel thereof in a spread-out state. FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing the flexible display shown in FIG. 1 showing the flexible panel thereof in a retracted state. FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible display along line I-I in FIG. 1. FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible display along line II-II in FIG. 1. As shown in FIGS. 1 through 4, the flexible display 100 in the first embodiment includes a container 110, a flexible panel (flexible display panel) 120 and two supporting elements 130. The flexible panel 120 is connected to the container 110 such that the flexible panel 120 can be rolled up inside the container 110 as shown in FIG. 2 or unrolled from the interior of the container 110 and spread out as shown in FIG. 1.

In the first embodiment, the container 110 includes a casing 112 and a cylinder 114. The cylinder 114 is installed to the interior of the casing 112 through a pivoting shaft 114a at the center of the cylinder 114. Therefore, when the edge on one side of the flexible panel 120 is connected to the cylinder 114, the flexible panel 120 may be pre-wrapped around the cylinder 114 and concealed inside the casing 112. When the flexible panel 120 needs to be used, the edge on the other side of the flexible panel 120 can be pulled against the container 110 to spread out the flexible panel 120.

To provide the container 110 in the first embodiment with an automatic retracting function, the container 110 may further includes a spring 116 disposed between the casing 112 and the pivoting shaft 114a of the cylinder 114. When a user manually pulls the flexible panel 112 out from the container 110, the spring 116 accumulates some elastic potential. Thus, when the user stop pulling the flexible panel 120, the spring 116 will release its elastic potential to drive the cylinder 114 and roll the flexible panel 120 back into the casing 112.

To keep the flexible panel 120 in a spread-out state, the container 110 may include a braking element 118 disposed on the casing 112 for deciding whether the flexible panel 120 should roll back into the cylinder 114 or pulled out from the cylinder 114. After pulling the flexible panel 120 out from the container 110, the braking element 118 can keep the flexible panel 120 in the spread-out state. In the first embodiment, the braking element 118 uses the frictional force on the surface of the flexible panel 120 to fix the position of the flexible display pane 120 relative to the cylinder 114.

In another embodiment (not shown), the braking element 118 may also use the frictional force on the cylinder 114 or the spring 116 to fix the position of the flexible panel 120 relative to the cylinder 114. In other embodiment (not shown), the braking element 118 may use a latch to fix the position of the flexible panel 120 relative to the cylinder 114, the position of the cylinder 114, or the position of the spring 116.

Although the spread-out flexible panel 120 in the first embodiment can return to the container 110 inside the casing 112 automatically, it still has to be pulled out from the container 110 manually. Hence, the container 110 in the first embodiment is only a semi-automatic container. That is, the flexible panel 120 is spread out manually but is rolled back automatically.

In another embodiment (not shown), the container 110 can be a semi-automatic container such that the flexible panel 120 is spread out automatically but is rolled back manually. In another embodiment (not shown), the container 110 can be a pure manually operated container 110 such that the flexible panel 120 is spread out and rolled back manually. On the other hand, in yet another embodiment (not drawn), the container 110 can be a fully automatically operated container. In other words, the flexible panel 120 can be spread out and rolled back automatically. Here, the automatic roll back or spread out mechanism is not limited to the use of a spring 116 as in the first embodiment. It can be a group of more sophisticated driving apparatus capable of spreading out the flexible panel 120 and rolling back the flexible panel 120 automatically.

To position of the container 110 and the spread-out flexible panel 120 firmly on a platform, the container 110 may further include a support frame 119 (the dotted line portion of FIG. 3) fastened to the casing 112 for erecting the spread-out flexible panel 120. In another embodiment (not shown), the support frame 119 may fold back on the casing 112 or attached to the casing 112 by some other means to reduce the spatial occupation of the support frame 119.

To support the spread-out flexible panel 120 and assist the flexible panel 120 to resist warping due to gravity, the supporting element 130 has a shape-remembering characteristic. In the first embodiment, the supporting element 130 is a supporting strip located on opposite sides at the back of the flexible panel 120. Therefore, when the flexible panel 120 is rolled back into the container 110, the supporting element 130 and the flexible panel 120 are rolled back into the container 110 together. Conversely, when the flexible panel 120 is spread out from the container 110, the supporting element 130 will reform its original shape as a long strip as long as no external force is applied. Hence, through the intrinsic tension in the supporting element 130, the flexible panel 120 is able to support itself for viewing.

In the first embodiment, the supporting element 130 is a supporting strip having an arc-shaped cross-section. However, in other embodiment (not shown), the supporting element 130 can be a supporting strip having a U-shaped or a V-shaped original cross-section.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a second embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 5, unlike the first embodiment in FIG. 4 with a supporting element 130 on each side of the flexible panel 220, a lonely supporting element 230 is located in the middle at the back of the flexible panel 220.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a third embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 6, unlike the first embodiment in FIG. 4 with the peak of the arc of each supporting element 130 attached to the back on each side of the flexible panel 120, only one of the side edges of the arc of each supporting element 330 is attached to the back on each side of the flexible panel 320.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 7, unlike the first embodiment in FIG. 4 whose supporting element 130 is a strip, the supporting element 430 in the fourth embodiment is a supporting layer having an original cross-section that of an arc. To support the spread-out flexible panel 420 and assist the flexible panel 420 to resist warping due to gravity, the supporting element 430 also has shape-remembering characteristic. The layered supporting element 430 is disposed on the bottom surface of the flexible panel 420. However, in another embodiment (not shown), if the supporting element 430 is transparent, the supporting element 430 can be disposed on the top surface (the display surface) of the flexible panel 420.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 8, unlike the fourth embodiment in FIG. 7 whose supporting element 430 arcs up, the supporting element 530 in the fifth embodiment is a supporting layer having an original cross-sectional shape that arcs down. The layered supporting element 530 is disposed on the bottom surface of the flexible panel 520. However, in another embodiment (not shown), if the supporting element 530 is transparent, the supporting element 530 can be disposed on the top surface (the display surface) of the flexible panel 520.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the flexible panel and the supporting element of a flexible display according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 9, unlike the flexible panel 520 and the supporting element 530 in the fifth embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the flexible panel 620 in the sixth embodiment includes a plurality of stacked layers 622. A supporting element 630 is formed out of one of these stacked layers 622. Furthermore, the supporting element 630 can be transparent or non-transparent.

In summary, the flexible display in the present invention utilizes a special shape-remembering supporting element (for example, a supporting strip or a supporting layer) to support a spread-out flexible panel. Hence, a user can view the flexible display with ease. In addition, when the flexible display is no longer in use, the supporting element can be returned into a container along with the flexible panel, thereby reducing the spatial occupation of the flexible display. Therefore, the present invention is able to provide additional facilities to the user of the flexible display.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the structure of the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. In view of the foregoing, it is intended that the present invention cover modifications and variations of this invention provided they fall within the scope of the following claims and their equivalents.





 
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