I-Zone and Best-in-Show Winners

I-Zone and Best-in-Show Winners

The Society for Information Display honored five exhibiting companies at Display Week 2013, the 50th annual SID International Symposium, Seminar, and Exhibition, in Vancouver last May.  These companies were Shinoda Plasma for best prototype in the Innovation Zone and Cima NanoTech, Universal Display Corp., E Ink, and 3M for Best-in-Show winners on the exhibit floor.

by Jenny Donelan with Alfred Poor

ONE of the most exciting aspects of Display Week is all the innovations you will discover there.  Some products are announced just prior to the show, but most attendees, including industry experts, do not really know what the most innovative and interesting exhibits will be until they see them on the show floor.  Both the Innovation Zone (I-Zone) and the Best-in-Show awards were designed to high-light the kind of new and exciting technology that debuts at Display Week.  

The 19 exhibitors in the second-annual I-Zone were chosen to participate on the basis of their cutting-edge research and their ability to demonstrate a working prototype at the show.  The presence of these companies, many of them start-ups or research arms of larger institutions, gave show-goers a look at display technologies of the future.  Although every exhibitor in the I-Zone was chosen as part of a competitive process, the winner of the Best Prototype award, Shinoda Plasma, demonstrated the best of the best, according to the panel of experts who selected it.

I-Zone Best Prototype

This year’s winner of the I-Zone award for “Best Prototype at Display Week” was Shinoda Plasma Co., Ltd., for its film-type display using plasma tube arrays.  The display is actually made of tiny tubes of glass that are each plasma displays.  The tubes are arranged horizontally.  Although the tubes cannot bend, the carrier on which they are mounted is flexible, so the entire mat of tubes can be rolled parallel to their alignment, similar to a bamboo window shade (Fig. 1).


Fig. 1:  Shinoda Plasma’s Best Prototype winner resembles a home movie screen, but it is, in fact, a rollable plasma-based display. Photo courtesy Alfred Poor.


Information Display contributing editor Alfred Poor noted that although the module shown in the I-Zone had tubes that were 1 mm
in diameter, a company representative indicated that smaller 0.5-mm tubes are in development.  The tubes are filled with red, green, or blue phosphor and grouped side-by side in threes to create white pixels.  The screen in Vancouver weighed less than 2 kilos per square meter.  This technology is currently available for large commercial display installations, but the company has plans for 100-in.-diagonal high-definition roll-up models to be used by consumers in the home.  This article is based on an ID Display Week blog entry by contributing editor Alfred Poor.

Best-in-Show Winners

Four companies – Cima Nanotech, Universal Display Corp., E Ink, and 3M – won Best-in-Show awards at Display Week 2013.  These were selected by the Display Awards Committee based on the significance of their development and/or product, for their potential impact on the display industry and consumers of display products, and for their ability to generate excitement within not only the display industry but also the general public and the media.  The awards were open to all exhibitors on the show floor during Display Week 2013 and were awarded to companies in small, medium, and large exhibit categories.  “The selection of BIS award winners from among the many exciting new developments presented in the exhibits during Display Week is a daunting and rewarding task that we all take very seriously,” says Robert Melcher, chairman of the 2013 awards committee.

Cima NanoTech for its self-assembling silver nanoparticle mesh technology (small exhibit): Cima NanoTech’s SANTE Technology is a nanoparticle dispersion that self-assembles into a random mesh-like structure when coated onto a substrate, enabling it to become a transparent conductor.  Other key benefits are low surface resistance (< 25 Ω/) at high transparency (~88%) and flexibility.  Unlike standard metal-mesh technology, the SANTE nanoparticle dispersion’s random network pattern on the surface of a film eliminates the need to orientate the film to a non-moiré position on a display screen.

Markets include EMI shielding, transparent heating, large-format multi-touch displays, OLED lighting, photovoltaic, electro-chromic, flexible displays, and many more.   Cima NanoTech recently commercialized a SANTE product line for EMI shielding and transparent heating and a separate line for SANTE touch films (Fig. 2).


Fig. 2:  This scanning electron microscope photo of SANTE shows the random mesh-like pattern formed by the nanoparticle dispersion.


Universal Display Corp. for its borderless flexible OLED lighting (small exhibit category): UDC’s all-phosphorescent OLED lighting panel, built on a plastic substrate system, uses UDC’s proprietary single hybrid-layer UniversalBarrier encapsulation technology to meet the necessary packaging requirements for OLED displays and lighting.  UDC’s encapsulation also provides complete perimeter coverage for nearly edgeless or “bezel-less” packaging, increasing the panel’s active area and creating many new product design possibilities (Fig. 3).


Fig. 3:  UDC’s OLED lighting panel is built on a flexible plastic substrate that is all but bezel-less.


E Ink for its three-pigment electronic-paper display (medium exhibit category): E Ink Spectra is the first three-pigment electronic ink to be offered in mass production and was engineered specifically for electronic shelf labels (ESLs).  Products using Spectra offer the same high-contrast, sunlight-readable, low-power performance attributes of monochrome E-Ink-based display types – but now with the additional pop of red.  The first generation of Spectra will feature black, white, and red pigments, and E Ink says it will release additional colors in the future (Fig. 4).


Fig. 4:  E Ink’s Spectra adds a third color – red – to E Ink’s black and white electro-phoretic display technology.


By using ESLs with E Ink’s technology, retailers have the ability to change pricing strategies as needed in real time.  Spectra allows retailers to elevate the impact of their ESLs by adding color to logos and quickly directing consumers’ attention to important information, such as product sales and promotions.

3M for its quantum-dot color enhancement film (large exhibit category):  3M’s Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF) allows up to 50% more color than current levels in LCD devices.  Prior to QDEF, LCDs typically were limited to displaying 35% or less of the visible color spectrum.  Wider-color-gamut displays, as enabled by QDEF, will allow consumers to enjoy more visceral and truer-to-life color (Fig. 5).


Fig. 5:  3M’s new QDEF (quantum-dot enhancement film) enables more vivid, true-to-life color for LCDs.


Quantum dots emit light at very precise wavelengths.  This means display makers can use them to create a highly optimized backlight that produces the exact wavelengths of red, green, and blue light needed by an LCD for optimal color and energy performance.  Trillions of these quantum dots protected by barrier film fit inside an LCD backlight unit.  The new film replaces one already found inside LCD backlights, which means the manufacturing process requires no new equipment or process changes for the LCD manufacturer.

3M teamed with Nanosys, Inc., to produce the 3M QDEF product specifically to deliver more color to devices such as smartphones, tablets, and televisions.  •


Jenny Donelan is the Managing Editor of Information Display magazine.  She can be reached at jdonelan@pcm411.com.