Chinese entrepreneur digs success in flexible display industry

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2016-05-05 09:51:45

SHENZHEN - "With AMOLED display, you can fold an iPad into the size of an iPhone," said Liu Zihong, chairman and CEO of Royole based in China's Shenzhen.

He is confident this product, which has gone into production, will revolutionize the electronics world.

It was in college that Liu Zihong started to explore thin, bendable screens.

"In 2006, when I was still a student at Stanford University, I liked to lie down on the grass and think about what I really wanted to pursue," the 33-year-old entrepreneur recalled.

"I was thinking back then that, if 70 percent of our information input is visual, then there is a need for a thinner, foldable display to take over from the usual thick, square pieces of equipment," Liu said, "I wanted to invent something that would make our lives easier and more comfortable."

Youth Day, an annual May 4 event, honors the spirit and determination of China's younger generations. The government is looking to promote success stories of people like Liu to inspire the younger generation to live their dreams and take chances.

Instead of choosing a preset university project, Liu pursued his own interest -- "flexible display."

After he received his PhD degree in 2012, Liu moved to Shenzhen city in China's southern province of Guangdong and set up Royole so that he could develop this concept.

Fan Junchao, a senior manager at Royole, said the team started small.

"Liu used to work 18 hours a day when we first opened the company," said Fan, "He would send us emails at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, yet despite this, he would still be the first person to arrive the next morning."

Committed to his concept, Liu forged ahead developing his idea. Within two years, Royole had created the AMOLED display. At just 0.01 mm thick, it is the thinnest HiDef display ever made in the world. Its unique flexibility means that it has the potential to be used in electronic devices, automobiles, domestic appliances and even clothes.

So far, Royole has filed over 300 patents and been named one of the few "unicorn" start-ups, those that are valued at over $1 billion, in the world.

In April, Royole signed contract with China Mobile and sportswear maker Li Ning to apply the flexible display technique on their products.

"Now we are preparing to expand our production line and improve capacity," Liu said.

Liu remains grounded despite his success. He arrives at the office at 6 a.m. every morning, flies in economy, and still strives for excellence, just like when he started his career ten years ago.

"I just think it's better to save the price of a first class ticket and spend the money on research and development for the firm," said Liu.

In 2015, the company unveiled the world's first foldable virtual mobile theater, and a curve console for cars in followed in January 2016.

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