Sony was all about showing off their new turbo-thin XEL-1 OLED TV at CEATEC today, and we have to hand it to them, this thing is kind of mind-blowingly thin. But once you do check it out, you may just find its gorgeous, bright pseudo-HD, 1m:1 contrast ratio picture hypnotizes you from remembering its ridiculously high ¥200,000 (about $1700 US) price and piddly 11-inch size.Check out its thinness in this video.
What do you figure, about 5 years before these super thin OLED TV's make it to 42" and another 5 years before the price is reasonable? Oh, 2017 you can't come soon enough.
Why the sudden flurry of interest in OLEDs? The answer has a lot to do with expiring intellectual-property rights. Some 6,500 patents have been granted for OLED inventions since work first began on them more than 25 years ago. Of those, only 20 or so are considered real cornerstone patents—and Kodak owns no fewer than 13 of them.So it looks like any cool TV R&D that is being performed now won't really be commercialized until the patents run out 20 years from now. I think they really need to take a look at patent length. 20 years is an eternity in technology. I think a 5 year window might allow for more innovation while still giving those that commercialize their technology a financial benefit.
Kodak’s breakthrough was to use small organic molecules sandwiched between negative and positive electrodes to produce visible light at a much lower voltage than ever before. That was in 1987.
Twenty years on, two of Kodak’s key patents on small-molecule OLEDs have now expired, and a number of others are coming to the end of their 20-year lifespans. Realising that its royalty revenues were about to run out, Kodak has been hurriedly signing licensing deals with as many screen-makers as possible.