Industry News March/April 2017 Issue 1

Samsung Addresses Note 7 Incidents

In a live streaming press conference from Seoul, Korea, in late January, Samsung announced that poorly designed and manufactured batteries from two different sources were the reason that some of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones had overheated, occasionally to the point of catching fire or exploding. Last fall, Samsung cancelled production of the Note 7 and recalled all the phones that had been sold or were in the sales channel. The company estimates that to date, approximately 96% of phones globally have been returned through its recall program. Samsung also revealed that it lost approximately $5 billion as a result of the recall and production stoppage.

In the conference, D. J. Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile communications business, expressed apologies to Galaxy Note 7 customers, mobile operators, and retail and distribution partners, while also thanking them for their patience and continued support. The company indicated that its latest flagship Galaxy S smartphone could be delayed as a result of enhanced product safety measures it has put into place.1 (The traditional forum for Galaxy S series launches is the Mobile World Congress trade show in February.)2

Several commentators have suggested that the design of the phone itself worked in conjunction with the badly made batteries to cause the problems.2 Samsung’s rather exhaustive infographics, released as part of the press conference, show that – in addition to using rigorously designed and tested batteries – it is adding increased protection within its next phone in the form of enhanced battery packaging and software algorithms to protect against over-charging and over-temperature conditions (Fig. 1).

During the press conference, Samsung also announced the formation of a battery advisory group made up of academics from the University of Cambridge, UC Berkeley, and other institutions, to ensure battery safety and proper procedures in the future.

Despite these battery challenges, it is worth noting that at the time of its release, the 5.7-in. quad high-definition 2560 x 1440-pixel OLED display in the Note 7 had the highest resolution for smartphones on the market and came with an array of impressive performance features that were highly praised by multiple reviewers.

Fig. 1:   Samsung’s product designs going forward include better battery standards as well as shielding and software algorithms to manage charging temperature, current, and duration. Image courtesy Samsung Electronics.1

HDMI Forum Announces Version 2.1 of the HDMI Specification

The HDMI Forum, an open trade association that guides the direction of high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) technology, recently announced the upcoming release of Version 2.1 of the HDMI Specification. This latest spec supports a range of higher video resolutions and refresh rates, including 8K60 and 4K120, “dynamic” high dynamic range (HDR), and increased bandwidth with a new 48G cable. Details of these highlights follow:

•  The higher video resolutions and faster refresh rates will include 8K60Hz and 4K120Hz for immersive viewing and smooth fast-action detail.
•  Dynamic HDR is designed to ensure that every moment of a video is displayed at its best values for depth, detail, brightness, contrast, and wider color gamuts – on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis.
•  48G cables enable up to 48Gbps bandwidth for uncompressed HDMI 2.1 feature support, including 8K video with HDR.

The new specification will be released early in Q2 2017.3

SDVoE Alliance Launches at European Trade Show

In February, the new Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE) Alliance officially launched at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show in Amsterdam. The SDVoE Alliance is a nonprofit consortium of technology providers collaborating to standardize the adoption of Ethernet to transport AV signals in professional AV environments, and to create an ecosystem around SDVoE technology that allows software to define AV applications.

The founding members of the Alliance are AptoVision, Aquantia, Christie Digital, NETGEAR, Sony, and ZeeVee. Just prior to ISE, the Alliance announced that eight additional companies had joined: Arista, Aurora Multimedia, DVIGear, Grandbeing, HDCVT, IDK Corporation, Techlogix Networx, and Xilinx. Additional new members are welcome.4  •

Manufacturers Adopt New Color Gamut Specifications

In our July/August 2016 issue, we published a Frontline Technology article by Raymond M. Soneira that discussed important aspects of modern color gamuts in use by the display industry today. One point that Soneira highlighted involved the continuing use of the National Television System Committee (NTSC) color gamut in display specifications. Soneira explained: “…the NTSC color gamut was never actually implemented for volume commercial production of color TVs. As a result, the NTSC gamut was never an actual standard color gamut, and there is essentially no consumer content based on the true NTSC color gamut. This is amusing (and annoying) because now, more than 60 years later, many manufacturers and reviewers are still quoting and referring to the NTSC gamut as if it were some sort of state-of-the-art standard, while in fact it has been obsolete and colorimetrically disjointed from most other standard gamuts for an incredibly long time.”

The NTSC gamut is significantly different from all other color gamuts in use today, so NTSC is not useful as a gamut metric. In particular, the NTSC blue primary coordinate represents a very different spectral response than the blue of current standard gamuts, so current content would look rather poor on a display that actually was “100% NTSC” compliant.

In recent years, other authors have voiced concerns about NTSC on the pages of this magazine; and we established an editorial policy of only publishing NTSC gamut specifications when the authors could not provide any other more up-to-date color gamut data for their results. We are pleased to note that recently the message appears to be getting across. In the recent technical specs published for the Microsoft Surface Studio 28-in. PixelSense Display, the company clearly references the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts. When Google initially published its specs for the Pixel smartphone, it referenced the NTSC gamut, but recently Google has updated its verbiage to say “95% DCI-P3 Coverage.” The Apple iPhone 7 display specification also references “P3,” which we take to mean DCI-P3 as well.

It's harder to find color gamut specs for TV products, but a look at some of the newest announcements shows that they too seem to be moving away from NTCS and toward DCI-P3. We say thanks and tip our hats to those of you who heard the message and are adopting these new and much more meaningful color gamut specifications for your products.

It is important that the display industry, including both display and device manufacturers, specify a product's color gamut in terms of the standards of today, such as sRGB, Rec.709, Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, and Rec.2020 (now BT.2020). This will allow consumers (including developers) to better compare the colors and color accuracy of the displays they are buying.

Now, if we could only get everyone to specify “luminance” instead of “brightness” when referring to the measured light output …

Merger and Acquisition Briefs

Planar Systems, a display systems manufacturer, announced late last year that it had entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire NaturalPoint, a global leader in optical tracking and motion capture solutions, for $125 million in an all-cash transaction. Planar itself was acquired by Leyard in 2015.

In February 2017, BASF, the multi-national chemical manufacturing company based in Germany, acquired the private company Rolic AG, which is headquartered in Allschwil, Switzerland. Rolic makes optical films for LCD and OLED panel makers. Both companies agreed not to disclose the terms of the acquisition.

OSRAM acquired Maneri-Agraz, a Texas-based lighting services provider, in February 2017. OSRAM is a global lighting and technology company headquartered in Germany. The terms of the acquisition had not been announced at press time.