Industry News May/June 2014 Issue 2

Panasonic Ships Final Plasma TVs

In March of this year, Panasonic shipped its last plasma display panel, bringing an end to a 13-year run that found the company’s plasma TVs earning accolades from reviewers and audiophiles even as market share shrank in later years.  Panasonic produced its last plasma panel in December 2013 and made the announcement that the end was near even earlier, in a press release dated October 2013.

The release read, in part: “Until now, due to the superiority of the picture, Panasonic’s PDPs have received high appraisal and there has been firm demand from customers worldwide.  However, due to rapid, drastic changes in the business environment and a declining demand for PDPs in the flat-panel display market, it was judged that continuing the business would be difficult and a decision was made to stop production.”1

Last fall, when the release was issued, many in the industry thought it was a sign that plasma was bowing out to OLED TVs.  Six months later, OLED TVs have yet to really take off; plasma’s exit may have more to do with the fact that LED-backlit LCD TVs continue to improve and grow in popularity.  As of this writing, both Samsung and LG, heavily invested in the LCD business, were still making plasma TVs.  A year ago, Samsung’s PNF8500 plasma TV won the annual Value Electronics’ TV shootout, a high-profile industry indicator of high-end TV performance.



GLT Introduces Flexible and Non-Linear Light Guides

Global Lighting Technologies (GLT), a maker of edge-lit LED-based light guides, is now offering flexible and non-linear curved light guides (Fig. 1).

This new product capability was made possible through a thin-film embossing process that allows light guides to be manufactured to 0.25 mm or less in thickness, and through a change to the manufacturing process of the optical extraction features embedded in the light guides, allowing GLT to create the extraction features onto curved surfaces.

The new light guides can be integrated into a variety of products, from overhead lighting and wall sconces to automotive interior/exterior lighting such as dome lights, passenger compartment lighting, and daytime running lights, as well as household appliances and consumer-electronics devices.


Fig. 1:  GLT’s new flexible light guides can be used in flexible or mechanically curved products.


Facebook Announces Oculus VR Acquisition; ZeniMax Launches IP Protest

Facebook recently announced that it will acquire Oculus VR, Inc., a 2-year-old immersive-reality headset maker based in California, for $2 billion.  Oculus has already generated interest from developers and has taken orders for more than 75,000 development kits for its VR headset, the Oculus Rift (Fig. 2).  The headset, which is being promoted as light-weight, affordable, and high-performing, can be used to play videogames, watch movies, or operate as a computer monitor.

Shortly after the acquisition announcement, ZeniMax Media, Inc., a Maryland-based videogame maker, claimed rights to the intellectual property that powers the Oculus Rift.  Oculus representatives are dismissing the claim publicly, for the time being, and the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.2

What Facebook might do with the hardware acquisition is the subject of much speculation, but the synergies are many, according to representatives from both Facebook and Oculus.  Certainly, the infusion of cash helps the startup Oculus, and the hardware helps Facebook on its (suspected) journey toward market domination.



Fig. 2:  The Oculus Rift is a virtual-reality headset with low-latency 360° head tracking and an ultra-wide field of view.


i-sft and Lumineq Form Ruggedized Display Agreement

i-sft, a flat-panel manufacturer, has entered into a cooperative agreement with Lumineq Displays, a business unit of the Finland-based Beneq group.  Both companies specialize in developing and manufacturing displays used in extreme environments.  i-sft is the inventor and sole manufacturer of displays based on energy-efficient excitation (e³) plasma light technology, used to make high-brightness long-life displays for extreme environmental conditions and temperature ranges.  Lumineq Displays is a premier manufacturer and developer of thin-film electroluminescent (TFEL) displays.  Lumineq also manufactures and develops transparent electroluminescent (TASEL) thin-film displays.  The agreement is designed to enable both companies to offer specialized solutions to industrial customers from fields such as mining, marine and offshore, public safety, medical devices, and avionics.    – Jenny Donelan


Special Plasma Event

Plasma technology played a vital role in making the flat-panel display industry the success it is today.  To mark plasma’s impact, SID is offering Display Week 2014 attendees a rare opportunity to hear from and meet some of the individuals whose groundbreaking work made plasma display possible.

At 5:00 pm on Tuesday, June 3, SID will host a Special Event, “Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Plasma Display Panel,” following the regular plasma session.  It will include talks by Professor Donald L. Bitzer, co-inventor of the plasma display panel; Tsutae Shinoda, inventor of color plasma display technology; and SID Past-President Larry F. Weber and SID Fellow Roger L. Johnson, former students of Bitzer’s.  Following the session, which will run from 5:00 to 6:30 pm, there will be a sponsored reception from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.