With each passing year, it seems the world is shaped more and more by innovations in display technology, as proven by the winners of the 2007 Display of the Year Awards.
by Michael Morgenthal
THERE IS a decidedly humanistic theme that links several of the winners of the 2007 SID/Information Display Display of the Year Awards. Many of these products go a long way toward showing the positive effect that display technology can have on the world of the 21st century. The impact is felt across many fields that are of critical importance in the modern world. For the medical field, there is a revolutionary 3-D display system that allows doctors to more effectively and precisely treat cancerous tumors. To address the economic pressures that afflict many people in emerging nations, the world's first cell phone using a low-cost low-power bistable electrophoretic display has been developed. For the protection of the environment, the first glass substrate that contains no added heavy metals and halides was introduced in 2006, meaning both the manufacturing and disposal processes will do much less harm to our world. A new approach to backlighting promises to help reduce energy usage.
Still, as altruistic as these products may be, that quality alone was not enough for any of them to win a 2007 Display of the Year Award, the most prestigious award in the display industry. A distinguished panel of display experts selected these six products from the more than 60 nominations that were submitted, based on their technical innovation and commercial significance, in addition to their likely social impact. In order to qualify for consideration for a 2007 Display of the Year Award, a product had to be introduced into the marketplace – meaning it had to be available for purchase – during the 2006 calendar year.
The 2007 Display of the Year Awards will be officially presented during the annual Display Week Luncheon on Wednesday, May 23, at 12 noon in the Regency Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Long Beach, California, U.S.A. During the ceremony, the three 2007 Gold Award winners will each show a short video presentation describing the winning product. The award-winning displays, components, and applications are described below, based on information supplied by the winning companies.
Display of the Year
These awards are granted for display devices with novel and outstanding features, such as new physical or chemical effects, or, for example, an improved addressing scheme, imaging processing feature, or other related advancement.
Gold Award: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. – High-Contrast Wide-Color-Gamut LED-Backlit LCD TV
The emergence of LED backlights for large TVs has been a development long-awaited by display enthusiasts, and 2006 was the year that they broke through into the marketplace in force. The Samsung LE40M91B 40-in. LED backlit TV was the best of the bunch, earning it the Gold Award in the Display of the Year category. This thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display (TFT-LCD) TV combines superior brightness and maximum image fidelity to deliver a high-quality high-definition (HD) viewing experience. Featuring a dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1 – the highest available today – the sleek, new LE40M91B allows for exceptionally dark blacks against the brightest whites. By re-mapping the complete range of primary colors through a mercury-free LED backlight, Samsung has extended the wide color gamut to an industry-leading 145% of the EBU standard. Its high-definition 1366 x 768-pixel resolution accentuates the panel's subtly understated black sheen appearance with richly textured wide-screen panoramas in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
For the LE40M91B LCD, Samsung has introduced several other significant visual achievements by incorporating 10-bit gray-level fidelity, eliminating motion judder and preventing smearing along the edges of the picture that can occur on flat screens during fast-moving scenes. Moreover, having a response time of less than 8 msec, the LE40M91B is virtually free of motion-picture blur with no false contouring.
In conventional TVs, a new visual frame appears every 1/50th of a second (EU) or 1/60th of a second (US). Hold-type driving used in flat displays at this rate can result in the appearance of blurred images. By inter-polating a new frame to be inserted between each set of incoming frames, the tendency toward motion-blur artifacts appears to have been virtually eliminated in the LE40M91B based on early reviews. The display's refresh rate of 100 Hz (EU) or 120 Hz (NTSC) produces an extremely clear picture with virtually no ghosting.
In addition, the LCD's super-patterned vertical-alignment (SPVA) design minimizes color shift in every direction so that the image looks consistent, whether viewed head-on or from any position within a 178° wide cone of viewing.
Samsung has further extended the capabilities of the LE40M91B to provide consumers with the option of viewing video and photos, or listening to music via an MP3 player, without having to connect to another device, thanks to an abundance of ports and inputs, including two HDMI receptacles, a USB port, a printer port, two SCART ports, and component, PC, and A/V ports. The display's multi-memory slots will accept nine types of smart cards, including compact flash, memory stick, SD/MMC, XD, and more. It also features a gaming mode to simplify console set-up and deliver an enhanced gaming experience.
Silver Award: Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. – World's First 103-in.-Diagonal 1080p Plasma Display
When it comes to displays, bigger is often better, and the sheer size of Panasonic's 103-in.-diagonal 1080p plasma TV is certainly an attention-grabber – it is the largest plasma display in the world. However, the performance of the TH-103PF series of plasma TVs was the reason for its selection as the 2007 Display of the Year Silver Award winner, not just its size.
With industry leading 16-bit color reproduction, the TH-103PF series provides a wide-screen progressive display featuring full-high-definition (HD) pixel resolution of 1920 horizontal x 1080 vertical, a contrast ratio of 5000:1, and 4096 equivalent steps of color gradation, delivering clear, crisp, and dramatic fast-action video images. This 1080p display's screen resolution, which amounts to about 2 million pixels, equals twice the resolution of high-definition televisions that are commonly available today. It boasts an effective display area of approximately 89 in. wide by 50 in. high, which is equivalent in size to four 50-in. Panasonic plasma displays.
A Super Cinema Mode and new image-enhancing technologies allows the TH-103PF to reproduce crisp, film-like motion images in native 1920 x 1080 progressive resolution. Its new Real Black Creation color-enhancing feature produces high-contrast (5000:1) and rich, deep blacks. A contrast-management system optimizes the contrast for each individual portion of the image displayed, while a high-precision motion pattern noise reduction circuit adjusts the image to enhance picture quality by detecting motion patterns that generate noise.
There are numerous technical challenges in making plasma panels that are larger than 100 in. on the diagonal while maintaining stable discharge and high picture quality across the entire surface of the panel. Panasonic has overcome these technical hurdles by developing a new rib structure and phosphor for these super large panels. The 103-in.1080p plasma panel features consistent and uniform discharge, delivering the same accurate images from the center to every corner of the screen, and the same brightness as the current 50-in. HD model.
Panasonic believes that these features will allow its 103-in. 1080p PDP TV to eclipse the front-projection TVs that up until now had dominated the greater than 100-in.-screen market. It is being marketed as a multipurpose display for business, educational, and medical applications as well as home-theater use. Deliveries in 2006 of the 103-in. plasma display include various high-profile venues such as sports stadiums and television studios.
DISPLAY OF THE YEAR
Gold Award: The Samsung 40-in. TFT-LCD TV with a mercury-free LED backlight features a dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1– the highest available today – allowing for exceptionally dark blacks against the brightest whites.
Display Application of the Year
These awards are granted for novel and outstanding applications of a display where the display itself is not necessarily a new device.
Gold Award: Actuality Systems, Inc. – PerspectaRAD
PerspectaRAD is a significant step forward in the display field because it is the first time a high-resolution volumetric 3-D display is being used in pre-clinical studies for cancer treatment. It is the first display technology to deliver high-resolution real-time animated medical imagery to clinicians in true auto-stereoscopic 3-D (3-D without "goggles"), a breakthrough that earned PerspectaRAD the 2007 Display Application of the Year Gold Award. PerspectaRAD is a combination of cancer-treatment software, a volumetric 3-D display, and a 3-D haptic interface – it connects to existing Philips Medical radiation therapy workstations to give radiation oncologists improved tumor coverage with high accuracy.
Today, nearly one-half of cancer patients are treated by a process known as radiation oncology. In radiation oncology, a patient lies down on a table and is treated by a linear accelerator mounted on a very large robotic arm (similar to those that paint automobile bodies). The linear accelerator shoots beams of energy through the patient's body that intersect at the tumor while hopefully minimizing the impact on healthy tissue.
Radiation oncology includes several steps. A patient receives a CT scan to take a 3-D snapshot of the patient's body and tumor. The CT data is viewed on a flat (2-D) computer screen and reviewed by a team of doctors, including a radiation oncologist, dosimetrist, and physicist. The doctors manually indicate the locations of organs and the tumor, and then try to figure out the best way to send the treatment beams so they all hit the tumor but radiate as little healthy tissue – such as the eyes and salivary glands – as possible. Accu-racy is critical, especially in brain-tumor cases.
The traditional method is problematic because doctors are performing a complex 3-D procedure on 2-D displays. For example, the tumor is shown among a series of 300 2-D "slices," and the optimum radiation beam might travel perpendicular to those slices. The pre-clinical studies at Rush University Medical Center (Chicago), Rhode Island Hospital, and New England Medical Center have shown that this results in sub-optimal radiation coverage of the tumor, undesirable levels of radiation to healthy tissue, and mistakes in overall planning.
DISPLAY APPLICATION OF THE YEAR
Gold Award: PerspectaRAD from Actuality Systems, Inc., is a revolutionary 3-D display that allows doctors to more effectively and precisely treat cancerous tumors by viewing a 3-D image.
Silver Award: The Motofone F3 from Motorola is the world's first cell phone that utilizes a low-cost low-power bistable electrophoretic display, which could enable greater cell phone use in developing and emerging nations.
PerspectaRAD solves these problems, allowing physicians to view the CT scan in a true volumetric 3-D display: the Perspecta Spatial 3-D Display. It creates a floating hologram-like 3-D image that can be seen from any angle. It instantly lets the doctors see the location of the tumor and organs in relation to each other. The Perspecta Display includes software and hardware that take 3-D data, such as a CAT scan, and "slices" it into 198 pieces around a central axis, similar to slicing an apple. The slices are projected in a sequence repeating at 30 Hz (i.e., 5940 image fields per second) from three digital micro-mirror devices from Texas Instruments. This is a bandwidth of 1.7 GB/sec. The sequence of slices are relayed by several-fold mirrors and focused by spinning projection optics onto a diffuse screen that rotates at 900 rpm. The imagery and the screen are synchronized, and in aggregate create a walk-around 3-D image 10 in. in diameter composed of 100 million voxels (volume pixels). It is the highest-resolution volumetric display ever built and is run off a single Windows™ XP PC.
The PerspectaRAD application software interfaces with the hospital radiation-treatment system (Pinnacle3 from Philips Medical Systems). Doctors can load their treatment plan and CT data into PerspectaRAD and display them simultaneously on a 2-D display and the Perspecta 3-D display. A 3-D mouse (the Phantom Omni from SensAble, Inc.) allows the doctors to "grab" treatment beams and move them inside the patient rather than having to type in coordinates. The CT scan and treatment plans can be visually overlaid and colorized in a variety of ways, and the 3-D mouse can also be used as a virtual ruler to measure within the patient. Importantly, the dose distributions can be displayed in PerspectaRAD so that the radiation coverage of the anatomy can be instantly seen and modified as needed.
PerspectaRAD was made over a year of iterative software development: Actuality's engineers would meet with the three collaborator sites to obtain feature requests and enhancements to workflow for implementation at Actuality's home office near Boston. For example, one new feature is the ability to see text and numbers within the 3-D display that indicate how well the treatment plan will cover the target tumor. As the clinician moves the beam plan, the numbers change.
Product development was challenging because it combined a new medical workflow for radiation oncology with an evolving volumetric 3-D display platform. For example, developing the PerspectaRAD application software required a deep understanding of the clinician's needs – enhancing the speed and accuracy of radiation physics – in order to create a user interface that felt as seamless as possible. One technically challenging aspect was using a volumetric display to mix so-called geometric data and volumetric data in a single image, such as overlaying slices of a CT scan within a geometric depiction of patient anatomy. Usually, those two data types do not co-exist. A second challenge was using GPUs (graphics processing units) to accelerate the rendering of 4-D patient data. This enabled clinicians to see through a 3-D image of a breathing patient, including tumor motion!
PerspectaRAD and the associated Perspecta Display are expected to undergo continuing enhancement. A radical redesign of the Perspecta Display is in progress and will result in a higher refresh rate and smaller mechanical package. PerspectaRAD will add more features particular to radiation-therapy plan modification, as well as presets for various forms of CAT-scan visualization.
Silver Award: Motorola – Motofone F3
Consumers in the modern world often take technology for granted – price is no object for the latest device and power-usage is usually an afterthought. However, in developing nations, this is not the case – cost and power are difficult barriers to overcome, creating additional roadblocks to the growth of many emerging economies. Motorola's Motofone F3 handset employs a revolutionary Clear-Vision display that addresses these concerns and represents a solid step forward in the display field because it is the first time that a bistable display technology is used in high-volume products. For this achievement, it has been awarded the 2007 Display Application of the Year Silver Award.
The Motofone F3's ClearVision display leverages low-cost low-power electrophoretic-display (EPD) technology to provide users with a large highly readable screen viewable even in bright sunlight. Combined with a flush-fitting keypad and dust-resistant design, the ClearVision display makes the Motofone durable in active everyday use, another pre-requisite for success in developing markets. The Motofone F3 is one of the few entry-level mobile phones that incorporates significant technology innovations, including the EPD, dual antenna, single transducer, and other SW improvements into a highly affordable device.
Motorola spent months talking to consumers in cities, towns, and villages around the globe to determine what features best meet the needs of basic mobile users primarily in the developing world. Four elements surfaced out of the research: highly ambitious design, resistant/durability under extreme conditions, ease of use, and affordability. Motorola found that while many consumers have very basic needs, they still want to be able to feel proud of their handsets. Thus, the biggest challenge in creating the Motofone F3 was developing the right technology to deliver the best of the basics and the best of style.
The challenge was to come up with a display that would conform to the following requirements:
There were few options available in the market that fit the requirements above. After several interactions, Motorola partnered with E Ink Corp. to develop a design that would address all these requirements, and then focused on manufacturing to ensure quality and consistency. The final result is a 2-in.-diagonal EPD with unique side lighting that – combined with a 9-mm thickness and voice-prompts interface – delivers a solid proposition to consumers that are looking for a stylish and easy-to-use voice experience.
Display Component of the Year
These awards are granted for novel components that significantly enhance the performance of a display. A component is sold as a separate part destined to be incorporated into a display. A component may also include display-enhancing materials and/or parts fabricated with new processes.
Gold Award: Corning Incorporated – Eagle XG™ Glass Substrate
Over the course of the next several years, few issues will be as critical to the display business – not to mention the world in general – as the environmental impact of component materials and manufacturing processes for electronics. Today, environmental regulations are indeed tightening, and new regulations are on the horizon that will impact all aspects of display. Corning recognized this trend more than a decade ago when it began research and development on what eventually became the 2007 Display Component of the Year Gold Award winner: the Eagle XG™ Glass Substrate, an innovation that has increased and will continue to increase the environmental friendliness of LCD screens throughout the world for years to come.
Launched in 2006, EAGLE XG™ is the industry's first LCD glass substrate that contains no added heavy metals and halides – conventionlly, glass production has required the use of arsenic, antimony, and/or halides to prevent bubbles in the glass. EAGLE XG is currently the most environmentally friendly substrate available. Its revolutionary new glass composition provides added value while retaining all of the enabling attributes of the previous industry standard, Corning EAGLE2000™ substrates, including density, durability, thermal properties, and a pristine surface optimized for the manufacture of large high-resolution displays.
Eliminating heavy metals from the process required researchers to take a fresh look at theentire process, and the creation of EAGLE XG presented many technical challenges. The solution involved more than merely changing one critical variable – everything had to be taken into account, from glass composition and selection of batch materials to a re-engineering of the process. At the core of this innovation was a deep understanding of the role that each glass constituent played in the melting behavior and molecular-level structure of the EAGLE XG composition, as well as insight into how that structure maps to performance in the customer's process.
EAGLE XG has value throughout the entire product life cycle, beginning with product concept and design. By meeting current environmental regulations and anticipating those to come, EAGLE XG is a proactive method for future-proofing the end product. At the manufacturing stage, EAGLE XG offers minimal switching costs and a high level of performance identical to EAGLE2000. It also eliminates any glass-related effluent and disposal concerns, resulting in an inherently greener manufacturing process.
From the consumer perspective, it is likely that buyers will value the decreased environmental impact of their LCD purchase. LCD technology itself is more environmentally friendly than cathode-ray-tube (CRT) displays, and EAGLE XG further extends that advantage by not introducing potentially hazardous materials into the supply chain. Finally, at the end-of-life for an LCD with EAGLE XG, the absence of hazardous materials increases the options for recycling and makes disposal less of an issue.
Addressing these life cycle needs will benefit the LCD platform because environmental legislation is expected to tighten around the world, and the special handling and documentation required for regulated materials will increase the display cost. EAGLE XG likely will meet or exceed any upcoming environmental regulations for the commercial sale and recycling of LCD glass. Green legislation in Europe and Japan is already in effect and development of additional legislation is under way in Taiwan, Korea, and China. EAGLE XG allows for a smooth transition for customers as they anticipate new standards, and its value will only continue to increase as stricter environmental regulations are introduced. Already compliant with RoHS (the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive), these substrates are also ahead of impending regulations such as WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive) and REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals).
DISPLAY COMPONENT OF THE YEAR
Gold Award: Corning Incorporated's EAGLE XG™ is the industry's first LCD glass substrate that contains no added heavy metals and halides, resulting in manufacturing and disposal processes that are much more environmentally friendly.
Silver Award: The PhlatLight LED from Luminus Devices uses patented photonic-lattice technology with an embedded sub-wavelength microstructure that radically influences the way LEDs emit light.
To date, customer response to EAGLE XG glass has been very positive. Since its launch last year, customer adoption has far exceeded Corning's expectations, with pull for the glass coming from throughout the value chain. As a result, Corning has worked quickly to keep pace with demand, ramping up production in all Gen sizes at all facilities.
Silver Award: Luminus Devices – PhlatLight LEDs
PhlatLight™ light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are an advanced solid-state light source based on Luminus Devices' patented photonic lattice technology. PhlatLight LEDs have an embedded, sub-wavelength microstructure that radically influences the way light is emitted from LEDs. Luminus has leveraged its expertise in photonic lattice technology to develop the proprietary PhlatLight product family for use in a variety of applications, including projection TVs and other advanced high-definition displays. This step forward has earned PhlatLight LEDs the 2007 Display Component of the Year Silver Award.
PhlatLight technology originated at MIT, where a group of scientists identified a new way to coax more photons out of an LED, based on the concept of photonic lattices. In conventional LEDs, photons generated inside the chip propagate laterally. Most of them never get extracted from the chip; rather, they get absorbed within the LED and are converted to heat. Only a small percentage of the photons reach the front surface of the LED and are emitted as light.
The idea behind PhlatLight technology is to optimize light extraction by suppressing this lateral propagation of photons inside the chip. The photonic lattices direct the photons to thefront surface of the LED, emitting substantially more light and in a narrower, collimated beam that is more readily collected and delivered to its target. The photonic-lattice technology in PhlatLight products is what sets them apart as an entirely new category of LEDs.
To make this technology commercially viable, Luminus developed a novel method of manufacturing PhlatLight LEDs in a high-volume cost-effective manner and created its own state-of-the-art manufacturing operation. All PhlatLight products are produced today in Luminus's facility in Massachusetts.
For rear-projection-television light engines, each PhlatLight chipset consists of a single red, green, and blue device tailored to the optical properties of the light engine with enough power to illuminate the entire screen with the desired brightness. The chipsets are designed for optimal thermal, electrical, and mechanical performance and for reliable long operating life. This enables high-output solid-state light sources that to date had not been feasible. PhlatLight devices can be made in any shape and size, which means they are precisely tailored for each particular application.
For other advanced display applications, the use of PhlatLight chipsets brings the advantages of energy efficiency, long lifetime, instant-on, and overall improved image quality. In addition, because PhlatLight technology is an LED, this backlight can produce displays with a wider color range and deeper color saturation. LEDs can also be used to help eliminate motion blur, color breakup, and other common color artifacts. They are also safe and environmentally friendly because they do not contain mercury or any other hazardous materials. Furthermore, because they consume less power, they save energyand reduce air pollution, and because they displace larger conventional lamps, they cut down the amount of waste in landfills from discarded bulbs.
Today, PhlatLight chipsets are enabling commercialization of microdisplay systems with a solid-state light source. PhlatLight technology is currently used in projection TVs offered by Samsung and NuVision. Luminus's latest chipset, the PhlatLight PT120, is currently being mass-produced and used in projection TVs with screen sizes as large as 61 in. Luminus's PT39 chipset is being mass-produced and used in LG Electronics' HS101 pocket projector, the brightest LED front projector in production.
The winners of the 2007 Display of the Year Awards offer an important lesson to businesses around the world, regardless of the industry: In order to succeed in the 21st century marketplace, products will be asked to do more than ever before. In addition to performance and innovation, customers will increasingly favor products that can fill a larger role and/or need in society, be it economic, environmental, medical, or any other. The 2007 Display of the Year Award winners reflect this changing dynamic; SID andInformation Display magazine are proud to honor their efforts. •