Textile OLEDs—Displays of the future
Photonic textiles represent a promising industry in which OLEDs could bring essential improvements in performance that may lead
to groundbreaking new applications and products. The vision of replacing everyday textiles in curtains, furniture, and clothing
with light-emitting fabrics will bring inert objects to life by integrating intelligence and visual feedback within the everyday
objects that surround us.
The integration of OLEDs to create photonic textiles is an emerging trend by which researchers hope to combine
the unique properties of textiles (breathability, comfort, low cost) with the beneficial properties of OLEDs
(diffuse illumination, low energy consumption).
The advantage of OLEDs, in comparison to the LEDs that are often used in textiles, is the emission of homogenous light
over a larger surface area. In addition, feedback from designers shows that photonic systems enabled by OLEDs are
aesthetically more pleasing than LED-based enhanced textiles that must be covered by additional textile optical
diffuser layers. Compared to other fiber-based photonic systems such as textiles fabricated from photoluminescent,
thermochromic, or optical fibers, OLEDs have higher light intensities. And finally, OLEDs are also lightweight,
have a flat form factor, and can be flexible if fabricated on a polymer foil substrate.
Designers have already started using available OLED devices by integrating them into demonstrator garments.
Early adoption of OLEDs in couture garments, such as the figure-hugging catsuit. These garments show that
it is possible to design a comfortable OLED-based garment with exciting new lighting aesthetics.