I’m one hundred per cent in support of a future where screens are flexible and foldable instead of fragile and easily shatterable. I’m just not willing to spend £2,000 on a folding phone or £10,000+ on a rollable TV. I will, however, happily drop £1 or £2 on a plastic bottle with a glowing lightsaber on the label.
As the marketing machine for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker slowly but surely kicks into hyperdrive ahead of the film’s mid-December release, every section of every store is slowly being taken over by Star Wars-branded merchandise – in addition to a monsoon of toys. But it seems like Singapore is the place to be if you want to snag one of the most interesting pieces of The Rise of Skywalker merchandising: Coca-Cola has wrapped its bottles in a thin flexible OLED panel and electronics, including a battery, allowing images of Rey’s and Kylo Ren’s lightsabers to actually glow.
Flexible OLEDs are currently just a little too expensive when used in consumer products that actually take advantage of their ability to, you know, flex. But this might be the perfect application for the technology at this point in time. OLED is self-illuminating, so no backlight is needed, allowing the ultra-thin panels to be tucked behind a plastic bottle’s label without looking like a bunch of electronics have been poorly hidden. And no matter how much those bottles get tossed around and banged up during shipping, at least most of the panels should survive and continue to work just fine, creating a rather neat effect that will undoubtedly help Coca-Cola sell a lot of fizzy water this month.
There’s a catch, however. These bottles are only being made available in Singapore, just 8,000 of them are being produced for Coca-Cola’s “No Sugar” drinks, and they’re being randomly distributed to 45 secret locations across the country. It’s a strategy that presumably helps deter long lineups full of obsessive fans or professional eBayers, but it’s annoying for legitimate collectors who will potentially have to scour an entire country to score one of these at a reasonable price.
Also, if you do manage to get your hands on one of these bottles, you’ll want to make sure you don’t get too lightsaber happy. The battery life for the OLED is rated for about 40 minutes in total, letting you illuminate the saber roughly 500 times as long as you keep your lightsaber battle shorter than five seconds.