LG’s new stretchable high-res display is bizarre but brilliant

Every once in a while, big tech companies reveal something truly groundbreaking — and LG may have hit innovation gold with its latest display announcement.

LG Display, the panel-manufacturing sister company of LG Electronics, has opened the lid on what it calls “the world’s first high-resolution 12-inch stretchable display” – a panel that can be deformed and shaped up to 20% of its original size without any to incur damage.

Yes, you read that right: LG has made a stretchable display. And not just ‘flexible’ in a marketing sense either. This is a micro-LED display (not OLED, interestingly enough) that extends, folds and twists in the same way as a bendable high school ruler – all while retaining the RGB colors in color and the resolution of 100 ppi.

LG says the new display is “thin, lightweight and easily attaches to curved surfaces such as skin, clothing, furniture, cars and airplanes.” In other words, the technology has the potential to be useful in a variety of industries, not least in the world of fashion, wearables, mobility and gaming. Check out a photo of the screen in action below during a recent LG demonstration.

LG’s new stretchable panel can stretch up to 14 inches (Image credit: LG screen)

The flexible material of the screen is based on a highly resilient film-like substrate made from the same special silicon used in contact lenses. As a result, the screen can be stretched up to 14 inches, which LG says offers “an advanced solution” [that surpasses] existing foldable and rollable technology.”

Right now, even the very best foldable phones suffer from fragile inner screens and bulky designs that limit their mainstream appeal as viable alternatives to the best phones. However, LG’s new display technology could pave the way for a much more adventurous handheld future that doesn’t come at the expense of practicality.

Strictly speaking, LG is not the first manufacturer to unveil a stretchable display. Samsung debuted an OLED-based stretchable prototype in 2017 and a cool but highly impractical stretchy TV in 2021, but neither project has picked up much momentum in the years since. LG, on the other hand, clearly has high ambitions for its groundbreaking new display technology.

Whether we’ll see the company’s 12-inch micro-LED panels on clothing and aircraft in the near future remains to be seen — history has taught us not to get too excited about innovations we know very little about. For our money, though, stretch fabrics, foldables and rolls, sooner rather than later take over the coolest new tech products on the market.