Editorial

Display Week Comes Home

Display Week Comes Home

by Stephen P. Atwood

Welcome to Los Angeles for our 54th annual Display Week event! This year we visit the city widely considered the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. It’s also the birthplace of the Society for Information Display, back in 1962 on the campus of UCLA, and the home of one of our most active SID chapters. There is a deep and rich history of display technology development in this place, and Southern California continues to be a hotbed of innovation in many important display-related areas.

If you are new to LA, I hope you will find the time to get around the city and see some of the more famous landmarks, such as Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood Bowl, the Capitol Records Building, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Dolby Theatre, Griffith Observatory, the Getty Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Venice Canal Historic District and boardwalk, the Wilshire Grand Center, the Battleship USS Iowa, Dodger Stadium, and Olvera Street.

However, I bet it will be hard to make the time because of the incredibly busy calendar right here at Display Week 2017, which includes the SID International Technical Symposium and Exhibition as well as the Market Focus Conferences, Business Conference, Investors Conference, Seminars, Short Courses, and the many other great happenings that are organized each year for your benefit and enjoyment.

This year, Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) and the Society for Information Display have co-organized the SID Display Week 2017 Business Track. The Business Track will consist of three whole-day conferences held from Monday to Wednesday, featuring presentations from prominent executives of leading companies throughout the display ecosystem. There will be two Market Focus conferences this year, one concentrating on the critical market development issues facing automotive displays, and the other focusing on AR/VR/wearables. New this year on Sunday will be a full-day training course on display metrology and the methods of the SID/ICDM Display Metrology Standard. Also new this year is a very special forum on Wednesday afternoon titled Women in Tech, which will feature personal and professional insights from some of today’s top female technology leaders.

When exploring the exhibits, don’t forget to make time for the I-Zone. The Innovation Zone is a three-day exhibit of pre-commercial prototypes by academics, startups, and large companies. Following SID’s mantra of “showing you tomorrow’s technology today,” the I-Zone has been a big hit since its debut in 2012, and 2017 similarly promises to have the most exciting prototypes on display.

Display Week is a big event, and no one person can see it all. Hopefully you brought along some colleagues to help you divide and conquer everything of interest, but in case you didn’t, we have you covered. Information Display has invited a prestigious team of freelance technology enthusiasts to report on all the happenings, and they will be hard at work covering everything they can. We will have daily blog updates on the ID website (www.informationdisplay.org) and a full issue of post-show coverage later in the year. If you see anyone from our team walking around with a press badge that reads “Information Display” on it, please introduce yourself, ask questions, and share your interests so we can make sure we cover the things that interest you most.

The issue of ID you are reading now can be useful for your planning because it features our Products on Display coverage, which is assembled each year by our staff to help you get the most out of the exhibition. Also, while good planning is essential, don’t forgo the opportunity to just wander around the exhibits or pop in on that presentation you might not otherwise consider. Each year I find many surprises and new ideas that I can only discover if I explore as much as possible. It’s a wonderful mix of the expected and unexpected that awaits you. I’ve never left Display Week without at least a handful of amazing new nuggets that have since proven invaluable in my day-to-day work.

Maybe you are a seasoned SID member returning after many previous years, or maybe you are brand new to the display industry scene and this is your first event. If so, you are not alone. Many people discover SID through Display Week when they automatically become new members by registering for the event. Then, later on, they realize that the Society for Information Display is about much more than just one great event per year. In fact, SID offers a calendar abounding with exciting international display-industry events, some focused on a particular technology or field of research and others almost as broad as the Symposium itself.

For example, through the rest of this year you can experience many other world-class events, such as IMID: The International Meeting on Information Display, in Korea; the IDMC: International Display Manufacturing Conference, Taiwan; and EuroDisplay, in Belgium. These are all outstanding events and give you an excuse to see great parts of the world as well.

However, some of the most important Society activities are those that take place regularly on a local and regional level at each of SID’s 30-plus chapters worldwide. It is hard to find any industrialized part of the world that does not have some chapter activities going on. And if all that is not enough, SID’s publications, online resources, and network make the organization a truly indispensable tool to a successful display-industry career. Even if you attend only one additional SID event or take even partial advantage of your local-chapter activities and the online resources, you get the value of your membership back many times over. So, if you are new to SID, I hope you find it a truly enriching experience, and do not forget about your membership after Display Week 2017 is over.

DIAs and Vehicle Displays

We have a full issue for you, and we begin with our cover story on the six great products recognized by SID for the 2017 Display Industry Awards. Each of these products has advanced the state of the art of display technology in one of the categories of Display of the Year, Display Component of the Year, or Display Application of the Year. This year, OLED panels, virtual reality, projection, and quantum dots were the story, and each product made fundamental strides in its technical area. You can read all the details in our cover story compiled by Jenny Donelan.

Our technical focus for this issue is automotive displays, and our great lineup was developed with help from our guest editor, Dr. Karlheinz Blankenbach from Pforzheim University in Germany. Karlheinz is also co-author on our first article, revealing a new architecture for controlling high numbers of LEDs for automotive lighting applications. In their Frontline Technology story, titled “Automotive Interior Lighting Evolves with LEDs,” authors Robert Isele, Roland Neumann, and Blankenbach discuss the well-known challenges of getting large arrays of LEDs to all produce the same luminance and color without excessive electronic and wiring complexity. Their solution involves a distributed driver topology with a 2-wire control interface. With this new approach, they can control as many as 4,096 RGB LEDs with one controller and create all kinds of coordinated and uniform lighting effects inside the vehicle. This has the potential to greatly reduce wiring complexity and bring new beauty to the vehicle interior.

Our next article comes from Simon Jones at FlexEnable, and describes the challenges and opportunities for populating displays around the vehicle interior, especially in clever positions such as the A pillar, in ways intended to eliminate blind spots and replace outside mirrors. However, doing this requires unique form factors and displays that can conform to complex surface shapes. This forecast of the need for conformable displays has been a common observation for many years; in fact, I can remember this very concept being promoted in the earliest days of flexible OLED development. However, the big difference now is that it really is achievable, and as Simon explains in his Frontline Technology article, “Plastic Displays Will Play a Major Role in Automotive HMIs,” a number of innovative steps have been demonstrated to achieve conformable displays with LCDs using organic TFTs to produce a system his company calls the organic LCD (OLCD). Yes, you read that right – not OLED, but OLCD, and it can be done by re-purposing existing a-Si LCD lines. The potential opportunity is quite exciting, as you will see in his article.

Display Stream Compression

From the very first time engineers put multiple pixels together in an array, we’ve struggled to find innovative ways to address those pixels and manage the flow of video information to them. We’ve gone from lots of individual wires to parallel addressable matrices, to serialized data streams, and now to compressed data streams such as the most recent new VESA display stream compression (DSC) standard. As video rates continue to increase (such as QHD, UHD, 5K – 8K), a gap is rapidly emerging between the fastest physical layers of serialized video transport interfaces (HDMI, for example) and the required data rates. Without compression, this necessitates more parallel lanes, which adds cost and complexity to everything from home entertainment systems to smartphones. One way to address this is to incorporate a real-time compression-decompression layer before the physical layer. To explain how this works, authors Alain Legault and Emma-Jane Crozier explain the details of the problem and the advantages of this solution in their Making Displays Work for You article, “Create Higher Resolution Displays with the VESA DSC Standard.”

I confess that whenever I hear about compression methods, I immediately think about loss of resolution and/or the introduction of artifacts. I’ve opined often about the heavily compressed MPEG4 streams coming in on my satellite feed, but the authors of this article explain how this DSC standard is a very different type of compression that is based on delta pulse code modulation (DPCM) and works on a single line of video data at a time. This approach does not significantly alter the spatial frequency content of the stream. In their article, the authors describe the extensive amount of user observation testing, comprising almost 250,000 subjective image comparisons to establish this as a visually lossless approach. I can’t say if it is truly imperceptible because I have not seen it, but I believe the reported results, and I’m very excited about the prospect of bringing even higher resolution to all kinds of video interfaces for numerous applications, including handheld devices, VR headsets, monitors, and of course, automotive applications.

Ken Werner is a longtime loyal contributor to Information Display, and most recently, a recipient of SID’s prestigious Lewis and Beatrice Winner Award. He’s also a certified “car guy,” as I can attest to after having had many a car talk with him over the years. Since automotive displays have become a vibrant area of development lately, we thought it would be exciting to get Ken’s take on the topic. He agreed and wrote this month’s Display Marketplace feature, “Automotive Trends Drive Vehicular Displays.” There is no shortage of innovative ideas to enhance the cockpit experience, and finally there are displays capable of meeting those needs. Ken walks us through a number of key focus areas, including head-up displays (HUDs), advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), the connected car, autonomous vehicles, and so much more. Don’t know what all of these things mean? That’s okay. Read the article and you will. Afterward, I suspect you might be re-thinking your next car purchase!

I hope you enjoy this issue and your stay in LA. Don’t forget to check our website and the blogs each day, and if you see me around, please say hi and let me know what you like about Display Week this year. We produce this publication to serve our membership and their interests, and we can do so only because of the generosity of the many wonderful companies that support SID through sponsorships and exhibitions. Please support them in any way you can.  •