Panasonic Corp. has developed a foldable substrate that it says could eventually be used to allow consumers to wear smartphones on their wrists like a watch.
"Even if Japanese manufacturers develop new technology, there are many cases in which those companies are overtaken by foreign companies,” a Panasonic official in charge of development said. “This time, it will be much more difficult for other companies to easily copy our development."
Substrates currently used in smartphones consist of glass resin, and layers of substrates are configured to produce complex circuits. But because these hard substrates cannot be folded, the only way to save space is to use many small substrates connected by wiring.
However, there are limits to the amount of electrical current that can flow through such wiring, so the circuits cannot function in a sufficient manner.
Researchers were looking for ways to make the substrate softer to eliminate the need for wiring.
Panasonic’s new substrate is called ALIVH-F. Made of film, it has an eight-layer structure and an overall thickness of 0.37 millimeters.
ALIVH-F also contains specially developed glue to attach different pieces of film as well as a new copper product that conducts electrical current through the substrate. Compared with current substrates in use, Panasonic's new substrate is 30-percent thinner and 35-percent lighter.
Because the substrate can be folded to save space, a larger than normal battery can be installed in the device. The product also is more resistant to shock.
And the substrate can be directly connected to a switch.
Among the elements that would be needed to develop a wristwatch-type smartphone are a band that does not transmit heat to the user's skin as well as a flexible display panel.
The development of a substrate that is flexible and can be stored in a compact manner increases the possibilities of developing other electronic equipment, Panasonic said.
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