Return to Southern California

Return to Southern California

by Stephen P. Atwood

Welcome back to Los Angeles, California, for our 55th annual Display Week event, where we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liquid-crystal display! The display technology we all use virtually every day was first unveiled by George Heilmeier and associates at RCA back in 1968. For some of us, that means we have literally grown up with this technology. I’ll have more to say about this later on.

This year we return to a place widely considered the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. There is a deep and rich history of display technology development here, and Southern CA continues to be a hotbed of innovation in many important display-related areas. If you are new to visiting LA, I hope you will find the time to get around the city and see some of the more famous landmarks, but I’m willing to bet it will be hard to make the time because of the incredibly busy calendar. That calendar includes the SID International Symposium, Seminar 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.

The excitement begins on Sunday with two short-course tracks covering emissive technologies (OLEDS, quantum dots, microLEDs) and virtual- and augmented-reality technologies. These are great surveys of the technology spaces that you shouldn’t miss if you want to get up to speed. Monday brings the seminars, a more compact version of the short courses, with a wide range of relevant topics, and the business conference program co-organized by Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) and the Society for Information Display. There will also be two market focus conferences this year, concentrating on critical market development issues facing automotive displays (Tuesday) and immersive technologies (Wednesday).

Tuesday brings the opening of the Display Week Symposium, which features 82 technical sessions consisting of more than 500 oral and poster presentations, including about 85 invited talks, many related to the three special hot topics this year: augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), microLEDs, and wearables. Tuesday also brings the investors conference, the opening of the world-famous Display Week Exhibition, and a special 50th anniversary LCD celebratory session in the afternoon. According to Erica Montbach of Kent Displays, who is coordinating the event with Linghui Rao of Microsoft and Professor Shin-Tson Wu from the University of Central Florida, the presenters will talk about how the industry got to where it is today, and describe some of the key innovations made along the way. The list of speakers is a stellar line-up of key experts in the field. This is truly a can’t-miss event! The symposium continues through Friday and the exhibition runs until Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday afternoon, last year’s very successful “Women in Tech” forum will return, featuring some of today’s top female technology leaders, who will share personal and professional insights about their experiences in the world of displays.

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 from academics, startups, and even some 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 2018 similarly promises to have the most exciting prototypes on display. In fact, we’ve covered several great innovations in this magazine that have first appeared in the I-Zone. I’m sure this year will reveal more wonderful discoveries.

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 can’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 Web site (>) 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 with “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 a presentation you hadn’t considered. 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.

The SID Community

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. Later on, they realize that the Society for Information Display is about much more than just one great show 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, throughout the rest of this year you can experience other world-class display gatherings such as IMID: The International Meeting on Information Display in Busan, Korea, August 28–31, and the International Display Workshops (IDW) held in Nagoya, Japan, December 12–14.

These are 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 2018 is over.

Awards and History

Our cover story this month features the winners of the SID Display Industry Awards, recognized in three categories: displays, components, and applications. As author Jenny Donelan explains, this year’s winners are all products or components of products that are fun to use and truly enrich the user’s experience. I can confirm as a member of the selection committee that the field of nominees was excellent this year and these choices are truly the best of the best.

Since I’m a big fan of history, I’m going to draw your attention next to a remarkable story brought to us by longtime supporter and accomplished author Larry Weber. His article, “David Sarnoff, Display Industry Visionary,” chronicles the history of RCA under the leadership of David Sarnoff. For most of the last 99 years, RCA was home to the seminal developments of radio, television (B&W and later color), color CRTs and video cameras, light amplifiers, projection systems, electroluminescent flat panels, and the ubiquitous liquid-crystal display (LCD). It’s remarkable to realize the scale of investment in innovation, the sheer brilliance of the assembled technologists, and the great business risks taken during this time to achieve so very much that we mostly take for granted today. It’s also inspiring to read about the work of some great inventors, many of whom were early supporters of SID. Some are even commemorated in the names of our SID Honors & Awards.

If we look backward, we can observe the massive scale of manufacturing that has grown up around LCDs. Over the last decade, LCD fab lines have grown bigger and bigger, with the sizes expressed in increments of “generations” based on the size of the motherglass substrate that starts down the line. In the early 2000s, companies were building lines designated as Gen 5, which used a substrate size of 1,100 × 1,250 mm. By 2006, Gen 8 was on the table with a substrate size of 2,160 × 2,460 mm. At that point the industry seemed to slow down and digest its growth for a few years. But now, the capacity engine is at work again, with numerous projects announced to build Gen-10 fabs with substrate sizes of 2,940 × 3,370. That’s about 7 times the square area of a Gen-5 line and allows for an astounding number of displays to be made from each substrate. Author Ian Hendy points out that the number of new Gen-10 fab construction projects announced, combined with the much larger format, could represent a substantial increase in the overall world-wide capacity for large-panel manufacturing. Is this a good thing or does it portend risks of overcapacity? Ian does the analysis for us in his article,“Gen-10 Fabs Will Create Upheaval in the Display Market.”


While LCD technology continues to dominate in countless applications, new challengers such as OLED try to make in-roads in certain places, and they have certainly had some success, especially in small-format displays. The latest challenger is being developed with an eye first toward the larger size display market, and that technology is called microLED. It is almost exactly what is sounds like – traditional light-emitting diodes, but in very small formats suitable to form the pixel matrix of a direct-view consumer display such as a television panel or tablet display.

You have no doubt seen large signage displays made from LEDs and we’ve covered this space numerous times, including in the January/February 2016 issue, but now comes the chance to make large-format single-display panels from LED chips on the order of 30 µm in size or smaller. The semiconductor part of the challenge is relatively easy to achieve, but the big issue is how to assemble something on the order of 6+ million of these onto an addressable matrix substrate or how to stitch an array of wafer-scale substrates into a panel. In a Display Marketplace feature this month, author Eric Virey, senior market and technology analyst at Yole Développement, tackles the question of whether microLEDs are really the next display revolution. The opportunity for this approach is big, and so are some of the hurdles ahead. But I came away convinced that there is a lot of promise and with a much better understanding of the landscape, thanks to Eric’s very thorough survey of the state of the art.

Regardless of which display technology you consider, today’s displays are yielding record performance in terms of resolution, dynamic range, color saturation, overall size, etc. If your organization does any optical metrology to verify performance metrics, you know how difficult it is to set up and calibrate everything for satisfactory results. One of the growing challenges in this area is finding calibration sources matched to the luminance levels and wide measurement angles required for testing. In our Frontline Technology feature, “Calibration Requirements for Demanding Measurement Challenges,” author Ed Kelley tackles the problem through a new set of prototype calibration reference sources he has developed and tested. These sources provide for both a very wide angle of uniform illumination for flat-field calibration on wid-angle lenses, and illumination values controlled down to virtually the limits of human vision to address those cases where very low-luminance black levels need to be correctly measured. If you plan on measuring the full dynamic range of an HDR display or want to take full-screen, high-resolution uniformity measurements, then you need the kind of calibration capability Ed is proposing. His results from these prototypes are very encouraging, and to put some frosting on the cake, Ed announces at the end of his article that he is gifting these designs to the industry free of charge! Thanks, Ed – we appreciate this very much.

One well-known industry company that focuses most of its efforts on light measurement is Radiant Vision Systems. The company has also been innovating lately, and recently launched a new product designed to aid in the testing of augmented-reality/virtual-reality (AR/VR) eyewear. This product is a lens that allows you to couple a photometer directly to the exit port of a set of goggles and measure what the observer would see through their eyes directly. This type of measurement is critical to verify the important optical parameters of a VR headset. In this month’s Business of Displays, Jenny Donelan spoke with engineering leader Doug Kreysar about the recent work Radiant has been doing and his views on the future of AR/VR in particular. Doug points out how valuable it is not only to listen to your customers, but to anticipate their needs by knowing their business. He states with good experience: “Don’t just get caught up in your product; get caught up in your customer.”

Before I wrap up, I want to note that SID President Yong-Seog Kim wraps up his two-year term this month and hands the reins over to incoming SID President Helge Seetzen. Yong-Seog Kim is a kind and generous leader who has made significant contributions to our society. I have enjoyed immensely my opportunities to interact with him these past few years. Please take the time to read his President’s Corner column, “What’s Next (in Display Technology)?”, before you finish this issue. The society will be in great hands with Helge, who has always been a great supporter and contributor to Information Display magazine. Our regular SID News page includes the results of this year’s elections for the leadership positions of SID. Please join me in congratulating all of them and wishing them well. And, of course, I wish you all well and much success both here in LA and at home, wherever you have come from.  •