Sharp is showing off a ‘free-form’ display technology that it believes could break consumer tech devices out of the rigid convention of using rectangular and square shaped screens.

The Japanese company’s new display type, which is based on its IGZO technology and “proprietary circuit design methods”, takes a different approach to organizing the power amplifiers. That system has necessitated rectangular displays until now — Sharp believes its technology enables a wide range of new design types.

The company explains the technology in more detail:

Conventional displays are rectangular because they require a minimal width for the bezel in order to accommodate the drive circuit, called the gate driver, around the perimeter of the screen’s display area. With the Free-Form Display, the gate driver’s function is dispersed throughout the pixels on the display area. This allows the bezel to be shrunk considerably, and it gives the freedom to design the LCD to match whatever shape the display area of the screen needs to be.

140618 Sharps new free form display could bring non rectangular screens to consumer tech devices

The company believes that the benefits of free-form displays will be of particular significance to the automotive industry, as well as wearable technology and digital signage. We’ve already seen LG and Samsung manufacture curved smartphones, while curved TVs have been mainstream for some time, but Sharp may just have open the door to more innovation.

The displays are prototypes for now, but Sharp plans to begin mass production of these displays “at the earliest possible date” — though it is unclear if it has snagged any initial customers to build consumer devices based on them yet.

With the New York Times reporting that Apple’s much-rumored iWatch will arrive before the end of the year, it would certainly be interesting if the device were to tap into Sharp’s technology.

Images via Sharp