by Stephen Atwood
It was just a short 2 months ago when we all gathered in San Antonio for the annual meeting that brings everyone in the display industry together. As you are no doubt aware, many people were not able to make the trip to Display Week 2009 for personal or business reasons because we were in the middle of a very rough economic downturn worldwide. (If you happen to be re-reading this editorial several years from now, I hope you are appreciating the contrast between the better economy you are hopefully enjoying and what we were dealing with back in 2009.) Throw in a worldwide epidemic of the H1N1 virus and there was no shortage of challenges involved in either holding or attending the conference.
Similarly, most companies are challenged right now just by keeping the doors open and salaries paid. But as much as we are all struggling with the present, Display Week was clearly about the future and provided a much-needed outlet for everyone's creative sides to emerge. From big companies to small start-ups, innovation and optimism were everywhere. If this event is a reflection of the face of the industry, then what I saw was an industry full of new ideas, constantly adapting to the marketplace, and looking way beyond 2009 with high hopes for the future.
To give you a good picture of what Display Week 2009 was like, we asked a team of freelance writers, all names familiar to those of you who read ID regularly, to canvass the show and give us reviews of the most interesting things they saw and heard. These are in many cases their own opinions based on years of experience in their fields, and very enlightening as a result. SID President and regular contributor Paul Drzaic covered three technology areas: E-paper, reflective displays, and OLED technology. All manner of flexible displays were covered by Robert Zehner. Alfred Poor tackled the complex field of projection technology, where this year's small was the new "big," as well as the incumbent world of LCDs, where big was still "big." (Our own Jenny Donelan, with assistance from SID President-Elect Munisamy Anandan, provided a portion of the backlighting content for the LCD report.) We were somewhat astonished to see that over 25% of the exhibitors at Display Week were somehow involved in touch-screen technology. This almost escaped us and prompted a late invitation to Geoff Walker, Product Marketing Manager for NextWindow, who graciously got on-board to help us cover this rapidly growing part of the industry. Working with this team and compiling their wonderful summaries was an honor for us. I hope they add valuable context to your appreciation of the industry, whether or not you made it to San Antonio.
We also bring you this month a very interesting behind-the-scenes story about last year's opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Summer Olympics. If you had looked closely at the numerous and wonderful special effects going on during the ceremonies, you might have seen that projection technology played a major role and that there seemed to be an awful lot of projectors being simultaneously choreographed for the presentations. In fact, there were 147 DLP projectors on-hand, all made and installed by Christie Digital Systems of Canada. We were able to get the company's Principal Engineer, Terry Schmidt, to take the time to write about the entire process of installing those projectors, as well as aiming, testing, and choreographing them into a live show viewed all over the world. When I first discussed the article with Terry, I had no idea how significant an undertaking the entire effort was, and while I do not want to steal his thunder, I do want to emphasize that this was a monumental logistical effort that could not have been achieved by many others. It shows the tremendous skill and experience that SID members like Terry Schmidt and their companies bring to our industry. As the world watched on television, the brilliant artistic vision of the Chinese organizers was realized through the power of projection-display technology. It's really unfortunate that this project did not get greater ink at the time of the event, but maybe now through the pages of Information Display the work can be chronicled for the record. Congratulations from all of us to everyone involved in this great demonstration of projection technology.