The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing demand for flexible and wearable devices, the rise in consumer preference for aesthetically appealing displays, and the advancements in manufacturing technologies for flexible OLEDs, and the growing importance of technologies such as thin-film transistor (TFT) technology, organic materials, and manufacturing techniques that enable the deposition of OLED layers on flexible substrates. In the last three years alone, there have been over 4.1 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in technology: flexible OLED displaysBuy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

190+ innovations will shape the technology industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 1.5 million patents, there are 190+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, aural exciters, in-memory computing, and network-on-a-chip are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. RAID transmission error detection, projector-camera system, and hyperspectral imaging, and surround sound systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are digital image interpolation and distributed RAID drives, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the technology industry

Flexible OLED displays is a key innovation area in technology

Flexible OLED displays utilize organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology and possess the unique ability to be flexible and bendable. This versatility enables their application in various sectors, including wearables, automotive displays, and curved TVs. With high contrast ratios and wide viewing angles, OLEDs offer superior visual quality. Additionally, they consume less power compared to conventional LCD displays, making them energy-efficient.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 240+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of flexible OLED displays.

Key players in flexible OLED displays – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to flexible OLED displays

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
E Ink 32 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 79 Unlock Company Profile
Corning 91 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 33 Unlock Company Profile
AUO 90 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 183 Unlock Company Profile
Pioneer 69 Unlock Company Profile
LG Display 1103 Unlock Company Profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry 38 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 41 Unlock Company Profile
Konica Minolta 41 Unlock Company Profile
Nitto Denko 51 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 50 Unlock Company Profile
Sharp 237 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Chemical 198 Unlock Company Profile
Innolux 106 Unlock Company Profile
Universal Display 95 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Display 697 Unlock Company Profile
JOLED 67 Unlock Company Profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 932 Unlock Company Profile
FlexEnable 34 Unlock Company Profile
Kunshan Govisionox Optoelectronics 51 Unlock Company Profile
Sakai Display Products 129 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Royole Technologies 77 Unlock Company Profile
Kunshan New Flat Panel Display Technology Center 33 Unlock Company Profile
Wuhan Huaxing Optoelectronic Technology 41 Unlock Company Profile
Wuhan Huaxing Optoelectronics Semiconductor Display Technology 119 Unlock Company Profile
Pictiva Displays International 31 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

LG Display is the leading patent filer in flexible OLED displays. LG introduced LG OLED Flex, the world’s first bendable 42-inch OLED screen in 2022.

Other prominent patent filers in the space include Semiconductor Energy Laboratory and Japan Display.

By geographic reach, Semiconductor Energy Laboratory leads the pack, followed by Hon Hai Precision Industry and Pioneer. In terms of application diversity, Toray Industries holds the top position, followed by E Ink and Apple.

Flexible OLED displays are revolutionizing the display industry with their unique characteristics. These displays are flexible, lightweight, and offer high-quality, vibrant visuals. Their flexibility enables them to be curved or bent, making them ideal for various applications such as smartphones, wearable devices, and foldable screens.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Technology.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.