2012 SID Display Industry Award Winners

The Society for Information Display's Display Awards Committee has selected six award winners that advanced the state of the art of electronic-display products and technology during 2011 in the categories of Display of the Year, Display Component of the Year, and Display Application of the Year.

Compiled by Jenny Donelan

THIS HAS BEEN a year of exciting developments in many areas of display technology, one which saw several products and materials came of age and finally appear as, or in, commercial products. Perhaps most exciting is the rich array of competing display technologies showing up in each major application space – from e-Readers to televisions and everything in between. This year's crop of winners includes MEMS-based e-Readers and an AMOLED portable communication device, in addition to LCD products that advance the state of 3-D and touch.

Last year, every one of the winning Display Industry Award products was a mobile device or a component of a mobile device. This year, mobile devices are still represented among the winners, but so are displays of other sizes, including an LCD panel measuring 82 in.

According to Display Awards Chair Robert Melcher, "The 2012 SID Display Industry Awards demonstrate again the dynamic diversity of the display industry. Awards are being presented at Display Week 2012 for applications of nanotechnology to displays, for new materials, for large-screen glasses-free 2-D/3-D TV, and for novel display technologies enabling new and enhanced applications".

One of the exciting aspects of the display industry is that the underlying technology keeps evolving and improving, even when we might have thought that impossible. Please join us in saluting this year's Display Industry Award winners.

Display of the Year

This award is granted for a display with novel and outstanding features such as new physical or chemical effects, or a new addressing method.

Gold Award: AU Optronics's 55-in. 4K x 2K 2-D/3-D Switchable Glasses-Free TV Display

AU Optronics's 55-in. 4K x 2K 2-D/3-D switchable glasses-free TV incorporating AUO's proprietary display made its debut in Japan in December 2011 and is currently the world's first 4K x 2K TV display, as well as the largest glasses-free 4K x 2K 3-D TV display commercially available.

This TV's LC display offers an exceptional viewing experience in extreme comfort. The display features a 4K x 2K (or "quad-HD") resolution of 3840 x 2160 for vivid and lifelike 2-D images. Meanwhile, a simple switch by the viewer converts the image instantly into 3-D format, with 3-D support for up to nine positions based on the TV's built-in face-tracking camera. Virtually no dead zones exist, ensuring the highest viewing quality possible. This lenticular-lens 3-D technology eliminates the need for 3-D glasses in order to view outstanding 3-D images. Viewers can now choose their preferred viewing positions to enjoy a pleasant and comfortable experience free of added eyewear or dead zones. For AUO's partners, the glasses-free 3-D solution also allows for ease of incorporating the new panel technology into their current systems. This compatibility heralds the growing commercialization of 4K x 2K 2-D/3-D switchable glasses-free TV displays.

Silver Award: Qualcomm's mirasol Display Technology

Qualcomm mirasol display technology from Qualcomm MEMS Technologies (QMT) is designed to deliver color and interactive content that can easily be viewed in a variety of lighting environments, including bright sunlight, without sacrificing battery life.

The first device featuring a mirasol display, the Kyobo e-Reader, arrived on the market in November 2011. Three more e-Readers quickly followed, and additional products are expected in the coming months. Beyond e-Readers, however, mirasol displays have potential application in a range of commercial and consumer devices.

The core building block of mirasol displays is the iMOD element, a simple MEMS device composed of two conductive plates. One plate is within a thin-film stack on a glass substrate. The other is a reflective membrane suspended over the substrate. The human eye perceives color as certain wavelengths of light amplified with respect to others. The iMOD elements in a mirasol display can switch between color and black by changing the position of the membrane. This is accomplished by applying a voltage between the conductive plates. When a voltage is applied, electrostatic forces cause the membrane to deflect. The change in the spacing between the plates results in a change in the wavelengths of light that undergo constructive interference. In the open state, the membrane is positioned to create constructive interference in either the red, green, or blue wavelengths. In the closed state, the membrane is positioned to create constructive interference outside the visible range, causing the element to appear black. A full-color display, meanwhile, is assembled by spatially ordering side-by-side iMOD elements reflecting red, green, and blue wavelengths respectively while in the open state.

The mirasol display is also capable of video. Since visible-light wavelengths operate on the nanometer scale (i.e., 380–780 nm), the deflectable iMOD membrane only has to move a short distance – a few hundred nanometers – in order to switch between two colors. This switching occurs extremely fast, on the order of tens of microseconds, and directly translates to a video-capable display.

The above properties give mirasol significant advantages. Since the display is reflective, the brightness of the display scales naturally with the ambient light level. This results in a consistent and comfortable viewing experience across a wide range of lighting environments, including direct sunlight. To extend the viewable range into dark ambient conditions, an integrated front light is incorporated into the display module. Additionally, the display is bistable, meaning it consumes near-zero power in situations when the display image is unchanged.

Today, consumers are relying on mobile devices for functionality previously addressed by other devices: playing games, reading books, and watching movies – and they want to be able to do these activities anytime, anywhere. All require more display use, which puts greater strain on the battery, and with today's technology, most mobile devices are limited to indoor functionality. Qualcomm mirasol displays offer both outdoor viewability and longer battery life with minimal performance compromises.




Gold Award: AU Optronics's 55-in. 4K x 2K 2-D/3-D switchable glasses-free TV display incorporates AUO's proprietary technology and is the world's first 4K x 2K TV display. Silver Award: The first commercially available e-reading device to feature a mirasol display is the Kyobo e-Reader.


Display Component of the Year

This award is granted for a novel component that has significantly enhanced the performance of a display. A component is sold as a separate part destined to be incorporated into a display. A component may also include display-enhancing materials and/or parts fabricated with new processes.

Gold Award: Nanosys's Quantum-Dot Enhanced Film (QDEF)

The recent take off in the popularity of powerful mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones offers a tremendous opportunity for display makers in the coming decade. It has become clear that consumers want a richer, more lifelike experience from their devices, and color performance is one area where large gains can be made immediately to meet that demand. The industry has focused on improving nearly every other characteristic of the screen over the years – luminance, contrast, thickness, resolution – often to the detriment of color performance. Color is the next major differentiator in the display market and will bring a stunning new visual experience to the consumer and a great new value proposition to the manufacturer.

The color performance of an LCD screen is determined by two parts of the display: the backlight and the color filters. Nanosys addresses the color issue by offering a new backlight for LCDs. A standard LCD backlight creates white light using a yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) phosphor. The YAG phosphor produces a two-color light spectrum, dominated by blue accompanied by a broad, yellow component. It lacks strong red and green elements. QDEF uses the unique properties of quantum dots to create a pure-white backlight that is designed specifically for LCDs. This light, made up only of narrow spectral peaks in red, blue, and green wavelengths, allows for wide color-gamut performance when mixing these primary colors at the pixel level. It does this with great efficiency, allowing for a bright display without requiring higher power consumption, thus saving battery life. A quantum dot, which is about the size of a water molecule, can emit any color of light at precise wavelengths. QDEF combines red- and green-emitting quantum dots in a thin, optically clear sheet that emits white light when stimulated by a blue LED light source.

The result is vivid color. High-color displays will allow consumers to enjoy more visceral and truer to life content. And high-color performance displays will make the digital viewing experience of photos, movies, and video games more realistic. Filmmakers and video-game developers will be able to more accurately bring their creative vision to life.

Nanosys invested about a decade of R&D to ensure its quantum dots are of the highest quality and reliability. More than 100 patents have gone into the design of QDEF, and it has been tested to meet industry standard lifetimes for TVs – 50,000 hours or more of use. But engineering the quantum dots to meet display-industry specifications was not enough to offer a powerful product for the LCD market. The dots needed to be easily integrated into current manufacturing operations with minimal impact on display system design. For this reason, Nanosys worked with major display manufacturers to design a simple, drop-in product that does not require line retooling or manufacturing-process changes. QDEF is a replacement for an existing film in LCDs called the diffuser sheet. Manufacturers who have invested billions in equipment for LCD production can simply slip QDEF into their manufacturing process, change their "white" LEDs to blue, and start producing LCD panels with OLED-like color performance and better energy efficiency, at only a fraction of the cost.

Silver Award: LG Chemical's Film Patterned Retarder Incorporating Merck's Proprietary Reactive Mesogen (RM) Layer

A film patterned retarder (FPR) is an optical component attached to a 3-D LCD TV's front polarizer to convert left- and right-eye images to left- and right-circular-polarized light, allowing viewers to enjoy 3-D images through passive-polarized glasses. The FPR consists of a substrate, alignment layer, and a patterned reactive mesogen (RM) film. The novel photoaligning polymer has very high UV sensitivity and a heat stability that is suitable for film process.

The reactive mesogen film used for LG Chemical's FPR is made using Merck KGaA licrivue materials. These RM materials are designed to be coated on a variety of substrates to produce well-aligned birefringent films. For FPR, the licrivue materials are formulated for coating onto flexible plastic substrates by a roll-to-roll coating process. The coated licrivue RM materials align and follow the pattern of the photoalignment layer. This alignment is preserved by UV polymerization of the RM film to form the patterned retarder.

LG Chemical commercialized this FPR for the first time in the world in 2010. LG Chemical's FPR, which incorporates Merck KGaA licrivue materials, is 10 times thinner and 20 times lighter than glass-based patterned retarders, can be easily mass-produced, and makes enjoyment of 3-D content more convenient. LG Chem has developed various key technologies such as a novel photoaligning polymer, non-contact-type roll-to-roll continuous patterning, and management of the dimensional stability of FPR – all of which help realize superior performance in 3-D displays.




Gold Award: The QDEF product is the glowing sheet on the left. The generic blue backlight is provided for context. Silver Award: LG Chemical's and Merck's film patterned retarder incorporates a proprietary reactive mesogen (RM) layer.


Display Application of the Year

This award is granted for a novel and outstanding application of a display, where the display itself is not necessarily a new device.

Gold Award: Samsung's Galaxy Note

Combining the features of a smartphone and a tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note offers a large screen and new user input technology, while retaining a pocketable design that allows users to capture, create, and share in new ways. It utilizes AT&T's 4G LTE network to enable a premium user experience.

The Galaxy Note is a portable communication device designed with a 5.3-in. display featuring HD Super AMOLED technology. Its high-resolution (800 x 1280 pixels) screen provides a dynamic, colorful, and comfortable viewing experience for content such as videos, photos, documents, and Web sites. Super AMOLED can depict more dynamic images since it has deeper blacks than LCDs and covers 95% of all natural colors. Also, depending on the screen's white area, AMOLED display adjusts its luminance for eye comfort.

The Galaxy Note includes a creative tool called the S Pen, which delivers fast, responsive, and precise control to create fine lines and detail on the device display, much like an ink pen and pad of paper. The Note also features S Memo, a multimedia application designed to capture all forms of user-created content generated by the S Pen. Pictures, voice recordings, typed text, handwritten notes, or drawings can all be combined via a single application, converted to a 'memo' and shared as desired. An easy screen-capture function also allows users to instantly save any screen. The screens can be personalized with the S Pen before being saved or shared.

The Note comes equipped with a 1.5-GHz dual-core processor, making it extremely fast, with a smooth and seamless user interface. Meeting extra rigorous security criteria, the Galaxy Note is categorized as a "Samsung Approved for Enterprise" (SAFE) device. The addition of SAFE certifications ensures that any organization's mobile work force can be remotely managed and securely connected to corporate applications and data.

Samsung has also included a smart professional planning tool that makes full use of the device's large screen. The calendar integrates the phone's to-do list and schedule; and control and navigation are intuitive. The Galaxy Note is outfitted with a premium accessories portfolio including a desktop dock. A spare-battery-charging system allows for a convenient backup charging solution.

The Samsung Galaxy Note's large screen and unique input technology enable mobile communications in a more personal, creative way.

Silver Award: Perceptive Pixel's 82-in. Projected-Capacitive Unlimited Multi-Touch and Stylus LCD

Over the last 5 years, multi-touch input, particularly via projective-capacitive sensing, has become ubiquitous for mobile and slate devices. This approach, when implemented properly, can sense an unlimited number of fingers with zero-force sensitivity at high sample rates while preserving excellent display fidelity. Although there are many other types of touch sensors implemented in other types of devices, for better or for worse, the user base has come to expect the "feel" of projective-capacitive touch sensing, and, similarly, developers have come to count on recognizing gestures produced by such devices.

However, projective-capacitive sensing is notoriously difficult to scale to larger displays, so it has been rare to see pro-cap devices larger than 24 in., and these have only been achieved by distancing the sensor glass so far from the display, with such a thick sensor glass, that theresulting parallax makes the device unusable for serious applications, let alone with a stylus. Display characteristics also suffer from such a stack-up due to inter-reflections.

In August of 2011, Perceptive Pixel introduced the first large-scale pro-cap interactive display that achieves the level of fidelity and performance necessary for real productivity. It is the world's largest projective-capacitive multi-touch and stylus display, featuring true full-frame unlimited-finger touch and precision stylus sensing at 120 Hz across a proprietary sensor that is optically bonded to an 82-in. LCD panel. The display utilizes novel state-of-the-art projective-capacitive controller electronics with an unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), specifically designed for application at these large dimen-sions and in optically bonded sensor stack-ups.

This controller is also designed to track multiple (four in this model) high-precision active styluses tracked truly simultaneously along with an arbitrary number of touch contacts on the same sensor substrate. These styluses are true digitizer-class devices, with features such as subpixel precision, pressure sensitivity, hover sensing, and barrel switches. This is only the second controller ever introduced with this capability.

The unit utilizes a proprietary transparent conductor sensor that Perceptive Pixel manufactures in its Portland, Oregon, facility, constructed on a thin 2-mm Gorilla Glass substrate. Perceptive Pixel then optically bonds the giant 82-in. sensor onto the LCD cell, again in its own facility. Though there are incidental benefits in display fidelity, optical bonding was deemed critical to this product's construction because a professional user experience demands an ultra-low parallax between the display plane and the interaction surface, especially when a precision stylus is utilized. This process also greatly enhances the ruggedness of the system, serving as a protective cover glass to the cell against the focused force of a stylus tip.

The Perceptive Pixel 82-in. pro-cap display feels exactly like a mobile touch device, only greatly scaled up. Perhaps, more importantly, all applications designed for mobile devices work. Perceptive Pixel utilizes a unique system architecture that integrates the raw, richer sensor information at a much tighter level with the software frameworks above it, allowing much more sophisticated gesture and contact classification along with a dramatic reduction in latency.

The combination of both multi-touch as well as precision stylus-sensing capabilities opens up new user-interface paradigms that human–computer interaction (HCI) researchers are only beginning to harness. Touch is great for its intuitiveness, power, and non-intrusiveness, but it is not effective for sustained productivity or for precision work, which is why it has not achieved significant penetration beyond consumer markets.

Similarly, as compared to pen-only interfaces, the combination of these two modes in a truly simultaneous manner (not alternating between one and the other) results in a synergistic division of labor between a users' two hands, leading to measurable increases in user efficacy.

This device may allow users to realize a digital replacement for the old analog whiteboard. Perceptive Pixel's 82-in. display can be frequently seen on CNN as well as other networks being used to cover this year's historic presidential primaries and election. •




Gold Award: Samsung's Galaxy Note features a 5.3-in. AMOLED display with a pen-based interface. Silver Award: Perceptive Pixel's 82-in. projected-capacitive LCD panel is already in use on network television stations.