Samsung Using Contest To Crowdsource Ideas For Flex Displays

August 14, 2013 by Dave Haynes


Samsung’s semiconductor division is taking an interesting approach to figuring out what to do with the flexible display technology now coming to market. They’re crowdsourcing ideas through a contest.

The Flexible Future Business Plan Contest is offering up a $10,000 first prize, as well as smaller second and third place cash prizes, to a person or company that comes up with the best ideas on how to apply thin, bendy or even foldable displays to the marketplace.

How would you change people’s lives with Samsung Flexible Display technology?

We are calling on the most innovative designers, hardware engineers and entrepreneurs to develop new product ideas that put our revolutionary Flexible Display technology to use in ways that will define the future.

sammyflexThe guidelines are pretty straightforward:

Samsung isn’t expressing fixed timelines on components coming available or costs, suggesting in the latter case that entrants “focus on the value your product creates and then calculate your desired cost for the flexible display component which makes your business plan viable and attractive to venture investors.”

To enter, you need a business plan in place and in their hands by early October, with everything from concept through market analysis to go to market plans.

There are lots of official rules that ostensibly cover the butts of both the entrants and Samsung. It would take a lawyer to truly sort out what it all means, but my quick, cross-eyed read of them suggests entrants are not essentially giving up their intellectual property for $10K.

But I could be wrong there.

My take is this is a fairly clever way to stimulate the marketplace to come up with innovative ideas for equally innovative technology. So far, the Korean display guys have brought curved display monitors to market and my guess is the general reaction has been shrugs, as in “Yeah, it’s curved. So what?”

Retail merchandising immediately comes to mind for this tech, but that’s acknowledging the biggest driver of a lot of POP merchandising is cost, as in Must Be Cheap.

Were I walking around with an idea (how about a display that rolls up like a blind in kitchens, so it doesn’t eat counter space), I’d have to weigh the risks versus the benefits of this, and make some  assumptions the idea will lead to derivatives of it by others. But that happens no matter what, patents or not.

On the other hand, no start-up is going to make its own flexible panels and they are going to be buying the tech from some OEM, like Samsung, so the exposure is inevitably there.

For Samsung, my guess is this not only stimulates some activity but also does an orderly sort of the companies that are probably knocking on its doors all day long. They can say they’d love to entertain new ideas and partnerships, and here’s the process and structure, ie the contest. You weed out the knuckleheads who can chew up time with ideas that aren’t viable.

(Disclosure: Preset has done some work with Samsung, but has no ties to this business unit or contest)

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