While a screen protector is handy for avoiding a dirty screen or scratches to your smartphone or tablet, they can’t work miracles, and tend to degrade over time. Thus begins the laborious process of putting on a new one and ensuring there are absolutely... no... bubbles. You may not have to do that in the future, as a company called Toray Advanced Film is working on a special protector that will be able to heal itself.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to take a knife or other sharp objects to the film, but it will withstand the everyday scratches and tumbles in our pockets and bags. The special film will be able to heal itself in around 10 seconds at room temperature, and can repair itself around 20,000 times.
The technology works by applying a wet coating layer with a self-healing function to a polyethylene terephthalate film. Toray Advanced Film say that the self-healing layer “has a high viscosity and elasticity as well as cushioning characteristics” which enables it to withstand minor scratches and repair itself. The layer is said to be several tens of micrometers, although the thickness can be changed on request.
The company plans to expand production of the film for use in a wider variety of applications. Right now the film is used for decorative purposes on some laptops, but the volume production means we could see it coming to smartphones and tablets in the future. Toray Advanced Film say they’re hoping for sales to hit ¥2 billion (~$24.5 million) by 2014 once they’re mass producing several hundred thousand square meters of the film.